Hand Tools Archive

Re: Planning the lingerie chest II

Ellis Walentine
Derek: The lid is planned to be a breadboard construction to minimise movement. Any comments?

Ellis: Depends on how the mirror will integrate with the lid. Mirrors are rigid, and breadboards are all about floating. Frame and panel might be better, but you can design your way through this one.

I was thinking of a solid top, and therefore breadboard ends to ensure that there is no cupping (what I meant by "movement"). In my mind a breadboard lid looks less busy than a frame-and-panel.

Agreed. I meant to suggest that you need to secure the mirror somehow that it won't be subjected to shrinkage or expansion pressures, perhaps an applied bezel?

Derek: The drawer rails are 1/2" high and will be hidden behind each drawer front. The top of each drawer front lies flush with the underside of the rail, and then drops to cover the rail below. The rail then doubles as a drawer stop.

Ells: I'd consider splitting the difference, so you don't end up with spaces at the tops of the drawers that are obviously straight through to the interior of the drawer/case. With the right tolerances, it really shouldn't be noticeable.

Again, my thoughts run to "clean" lines. I'd prefer to keep the drawers coplanar at the top.

Perfectly understandable.

Derek: At this stage I am undecided whether to curve the drawers as this may cause it to be too busy (too many curves). If they are, they will have a very shallow convex (curve to the front). It is difficult to visualise this, and so I will leave that aspect to later.

Ellis: The design comes first. If this will be a really important piece for you, don't hold back on the curved fronts. But, then, consider how the fronts how they will be built and how they will integrate with the drawer bodies. Will you laminate them or bandsaw them. If they will be directly joined, then how will that happen? If you plan to make separate drawer boxes, will the fronts be bandsawn in front to the curvature and flat in the back to engage the boxes?

Ellis, I agree with you. It has always been my intention to add curved fronts. The only reason I hesitate is that Lynndy questioned it. I do believe that a very gentle curve will balance the view from the side.

I value my wife's design feedback, but sometimes I have to explain the wisdom of doing things a little differently. I am thinking of the overall bearing of this piece of furniture, the slopes and curves and how they will define the volume of the space. This piece will have essentially flat sides (flat in the front to back plane, your panels slid into grooved legs), so you should consider your curves in that context. I think it would be lovely either way, but personally, a slight curve might add a little sensuality to the character of the piece. I recall seeing a little lingerie chest by a guy named Michael Cullen when he was a student of Krenov's. It was shaped like a pillow. Blew me away.

I plan to bandsaw the drawer fronts. The curve is to shallow to go to the effort of laminating. The plan is to dovetail flat tapered sides, which will be coped to fit the curved inside of the carcass, and then plane the outside of the drawer face to a curve. I am thinking of leaving the inside straight rather than bandsawing and scraping this to a complementary curve - comment?

I'd do it that way in a heartbeat.

Here is a rough side elevation I made to show how the dovetailing might proceed ..

Derek: The side panels are expected to be 1/4" thick and rebated into the curved side rails. The interior of the side panels will be reinforced by the side rails for the drawers.

Ellis: Consider the flimsiness factor, and the tonal quality of knuckle on 1/4" panel. I personally would want the side panels to be at least 3/8" thick, or more. If you're trying to avoid another laminating step, I'd reconsider. The drawer rails won't keep the sides from sounding tinny.

Earlier I had suggested 3/8" as well. I would prefer that as it would accommodate a wider tongue for a groove. My concern is that the panel needs to flex enough to slide down the curved frame's groove. I will test this out before it is built.

The alternate method is to laminate thinner panels into a curved thicker panel. That is also doable. Your thoughts?

Makore heartwood is classified as moderate for bending. The limiting radius for unsteamed bends in 1/8" material is 6 1/5", which is quite tight. I would think you could form those long, shallow curves rather easily with 3/8" stock. Might not hurt to spritz them with water and try to limber them up a bit over a hot pipe. A little experimentation is probably in order.

Derek: These are also needed to determine how to use the wood I have. I would like to use the Makore. I fear it will not be sufficient. Either I will need to find more - which will be difficult, especially since the boards I have are from the same tree - or I need to change to a different wood. My thought is that I will mix the Makore with Jarrah. It should compliment each other really well as the tonal colours are the same brown-red. The drawers and panels could be Makore, with the frames and rails in Jarrah, or vice versa. Comments?

Ellis: Not sure how the two will interact, but you can get into visual trouble using two woods of similar color but different texture. Sometimes it pays to go with a more dramatic contrast, on one dimension or another, either hue or value or texture.

My thoughts here were that Jarrah might be used with the drawer fronts, where I could use something with a little figure. Alternately, it could be used with the frames, and then I would use a darker wood than the Makore for contrast. What I meant by similar tonal colour was that they share a brown-red. The Makore is lighter than the Jarrah I have.

Hmm. I wish I could see actual samples side by side. I have worked both woods in the past, and the jarrah was darker and grainier than the makore. I like the idea of having the case be makore and the drawer fronts be jarrah, but that's only my personal preference. I wouldn't want the strong contrasts on the sides. But, at least they're both on the same hue range, which I consider an important design consideration. You can always tone things to suit, but I have the feeling you prefer the natural wood color. So do I, unless there's no other good way to get the visual results I want.

What a beautiful piece this will be.
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