Thorsen Cabinet Update

I’m slowly chipping away at this cabinet I’m making.  I really wish I had more time to work on it, it’s really inefficient to get an hour or two in the shop once a week.  By the time I “get in the groove” and have my brain engaged I have to stop.  Oh well, welcome to “McGlynn on Complaining”.

Here’s where I am:  The major woodwork on the cabinet is finished.  The cabinet carcass is finished, sanded and has been sprayed with water to raise the grain (in preparation for the water based dye I’m planning to use).  I have to round over the inside edge of the cabinet opening and re-sand that and a few details that got marked from gluing on the top of the cabinet.  The door is done, it just needs the mortises for the ebony plugs and some small details.

(Nearly) Finished Carcass

(Nearly) Finished Carcass

Finished Door

(Nearly) Finished Door

My next step was to finish the back and hang the door.  So, the back first.  I measured the inside width of the cabinet, and put my math skills to the test.  I wanted four slats in the back, with about a 1/8″ gap between them, so I subtracted 3/8″ from this total.  I divided this by four, to give the visible width of the slate, then added an extra allowance to each slat for the overlap (3/4″) and the depth of the rabbet on the sides.  From there is was just work to mill the stock to 1/2″ thick, rip it to width and cut the rabbets for the shiplap.

I decided to hang this using keyhole hangers mortised into the back.  In the past I’ve used some stamped ones from the hardware store, but for this project I wanted to use the ons from Sanderson Hardware.  What I liked about them is that the screw holes are offset so they end up going into the sides of the case, not just the back slats.  I ordered them on-line and three days later they were in my mailbox.  Look at what I found when I opened the package:

Inside the package from Sanderson Hardware

Inside the package from Sanderson Hardware

That’s nice, so I opened this package and finally got the goods.  The packaging is really nice, the parts are beautiful, and I love that it includes an extra mounting screw and also screws to hang it on the wall.

Hangers from Sanderson Hardware

Hangers from Sanderson Hardware

Installing them was pretty straightforward, and a great opportunity to do some simple handwork.  I laid out the long side of the mortise with my marking gauge, and knifed in both ends of the mortise.  I used the marking gauge to scribe the depth baseline on the edge, then I used a chisel to cut a bevel around all three edges — being careful not to split out the back side.  I’ve done that before, it’s too easy to splinter the back wall.

Cut a bevel on three sides to the baseline

Cut a bevel on three sides to the baseline

Once I had the relief cuts in, I used the chisel to chop the mortise almost to depth, and then pare it as close to final depth as I dared.  I finished the bottom of the mortise with a router plane, taking really light cuts.  I used an awl to make the screw holes, and the centers of the keyhole which I drilled and chopped to clear the head of the mounting screw.

Finish the bottom of the recess with a router plane

Finish the bottom of the recess with a router plane

Hanger fits perfectly, screw holes and a tiny mortise to clear the hanger screw and this is finished.

Hanger fits perfectly, screw holes and a tiny mortise to clear the hanger screw and this is finished.

Hanging a door in a cabinet makes me nervous.  I had problems with this one, the rails on the door ended up slightly inset from the ends of the stiles (having made that mistake I know how to avoid it next time), so my door gap is a little too wide at the top/bottom.  I got the sides fit nicely and the door hung and functional, but I’m not 100% satisfied with it.  Next time I’ll engineer the door to be just oversized so I have to shave it frown to fit.

I’m not thrilled with how the door is designed to hang in the cabinet in the first place.  It requires that the door have a double-depth mortise so that when it’s closed both hinge leaves fit (less whatever the door gap is).  But it should work OK, and look fine — it just doesn’t feel like an elegant solution.

By the way, I’ll strip the clear finish off of the hinges and apply a dark brown patina before I install them in the finished cabinet.

Hinges fit into a double-depth mortise

Hinges fit into a double-depth mortise

One trick I picked up form the video is worth repeating here.  Getting the hinges located in the carcass could be a problem.  I used a marking gauge set to the distance from the hinge barrel to the center of the mounting screw.

Marking gauge set to the distance the mounting screw needs to be from the front edge of the cabinet

Marking gauge set to the distance the mounting screw needs to be from the front edge of the cabinet

Then I made a wood spacer that represented the distance from the screw to the bottom of the cabinet — including the gap at the bottom of the door.

Spacer for screw height, including the door gap

Spacer for screw height, including the door gap

Then I used the morning gauge to scribe the inset line, and knifed in one screw location.  With that done I could locate a screw in the top hinge and then deal with any remaining gap and alignment issues.

Marking the screw height

Marking the screw height

I had to futz with the screw locations a bit, cut the hinge mortises deeper and ended up needing a .020″ shim in the bottom hinge to get the door to hang square.  And I still have too big of a gap at the top.  The other three sides are even at .040″, the top is at least twice that.  Grumble, grumble.  When the cabinet is assembled and finished I’m hoping it won’t be too noticeable.  It’s obvious in this picture because it’s backlit.

Door hung

Door hung

Installing the catch and handle were the last of it.  Unfortunately, after waiting two weeks for the handle it arrived on Thursday but because our mailbox is a half mile from the house, there wasn’t anyone there to sign for it.  I’ll have to go pick it up on Monday.  I did get the latch installed, and with the back off of the cabinet it was pretty simple to get it properly aligned.  These double-ball catches have no allowance for misalignment.  I installed the catch on the door first, then clamped a stop block to the cabinet and closed the door against that.  With the cabinet-side of the catch clipped to it’s mate I could accurately mark the location on the cabinet side and mount it.  I’ll patina this too, and install it with brass screws in the finished cabinet.

Door catch installed

Door catch installed

Before I do the ebony plugs in the door I want to make a metal frame to hold the stained glass.  For it to look right there needs to be a solder seam visible all around the door.  You could do this a number of ways, my idea is to make it out of 1/8″ copper flat bars welded together.  I’m just starting on this part of the job now.  All of the bars will get scribed and cut to follow the cloud lift design in the door.

Beginning to build the copper framework for the glass

Beginning to build the copper framework for the glass

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Thorsen Cabinet Update

  1. Have you thought of gluing a piece of veneer at the top of the door to close up the gap? With the overhang and the door being in the shadow it shouldn’t be that easy to see.

    • I did think of that, and if the rails were the full width I’d absolutely do that. But I think it would look too weird with the stiles butting into it. I may cut a thin sliver and see how it looks anyway. I thought about fitting a strip to the top of the door opening too, that might be more successful.

  2. Excellent explanation of how to install the cabinet hangers! Couldn’t have said it better myself and great pictures to boot! Thanks for a great post.

    • Thanks Bob. Awesome product and service on these hangers, I’ll be using them on everything from now on!

  3. Nice work on the cabinet hangers and hinges. I need to get a router plane.

  4. Dallas Rysavy

    Joe, I appreciate your projects, sketch ups and posts. Keep up the great work. I will be interested in seeing how you solve the ‘gap’ problem…seems I have the same issue when I try hang doors.

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