Hello and welcome to my blog! This post completes a series in which I’ve detailed the build of a wall hanging media cabinet made in American black walnut. This final post will cover the process of building moveable shelves for the case interior to complete the building stage, readying it for installation.
I’ve planned adjustable shelves for this cabinet to accommodate a variety of electronics which may be installed, either right away or down the road. Luckily electronics are getting smaller as time goes on, so it is unlikely that the shelves will need to be moved, but best to plan for all foreseeable situations.
I’ve cut and thicknessed the panels a while back, and happily they remained perfectly flat even without support. I had originally intended to use them as door panels, but thought better of it when the option was made available to use wide stock for the door panels. I altered their size just slightly for this new purpose. Trimming them to width using a plane.
After bringing them down to size, the next step was to cut a rabbet around their perimeter. An old english plane that I restored comes in handy for such a purpose.
The panels are set aside and work begins on the rails, first grooving them to accept the panels then cutting tenons. The tenons will be haunched, but I’ve left them at their full width for the time being.
Once the panel can be partially assembled, marks are transferred to the stiles which are then grooved to accept the panel and mortised to receive the rail tenons. I’ve planned haunched tenons and my approach to cutting them is taken in steps, first determining their length and transferring the baseline mark to the stile.
After setting their length and marking the base line, I use a kebiki gauge to complete the layout.
The stiles, having been grooved, required certain care in mortising. I found a strip of plywood to fit into the groove to use as backup and cut the mortises from the outside in, first drilling a hole then chopping the waste toward the hole. Care had to be taken to line up each cut exactly as I had zero room for error, the tenons were sized perfectly to the grooves and the grooves were exactly the size of my chisel.
Once the mortised stiles were placed back onto the assembly, I could transfer marks to my tenon and then cut the haunch. The reason for retaining a haunch is two-fold, it aligns the stile to the rail over the full width of the rail and also allows for a full length groove in the stile so that a stopped groove can be avoided. Stopped grooves being the bane of all woodworkers.
After rip cutting the tenon to width, I then crosscut to remove the waste and set the height.
Once a full assembly could be made, I determined that the shelf needed a batten support in its center. I decided to cut dovetailed battens to fit into the panels, I’ve detailed the process required quite recently in the door building post. A batten was cut and fit into each panel, then stub tenons were cut to fit into the stile.
Prior to reassembling the shelf I cut chamfers around the inside members of the assembly, aiming to accentuate the difference between panel and frame to minimize the visual effect of the expansion gaps at the panel sides.
After assembling the panel, the next step was to remove the protruding horns from the stiles and trim back the tenons until flush. The stiles are always left long until the assembly is complete, the additional length helps keep the stile in tact while mortises are cut.
I was able to make use of a tool that has sat on a shelf until recently. I have recently set it up for use and I am happy to find that it works wonderfully, the blade which is 30-40 years old and made by Kikuhiromaru cuts exceptionally well. This kanna is called the ‘Naga-dai-Kanna’ and typically used by cabinet makers who use them in conjunction with a shooting board arrangement. The naga-dai-kanna is a welcome change from the iron body planes I’ve been using.
The corner detail, showing the expansion joint and corresponding chamfers.
Finally the stiles are finish planed on the back side of the panel. Care was taken to make the height of the stile taller than that of the rail which is thicker than the panel. I wanted to make a 3/4″ thick assembly, but ensure the finished shelf would be lightweight.
The finished assembly is now installed into the case. I made up a drill template from plywood and used it to drill holes for the support sleeves. The support sleeves are installed using a wooden handled driver to press-fit them into place. The press-fit, with respect to wood, is very light, but enough to keep them in place.
The sleeves are tapped into place.
The panel is held in place by steel pegs which insert into the sleeves. They’re easily moved to next set of sleeves to accommodate larger electronics placed either top or bottom. I’ve left a space behind the shelf to allow wires to pass by.
A small recess was cut into the rails, setting the pins into the rail to prevent back and forth movement.
With the cabinet now complete, I’ve been slowly shellacking the case and parts. I work shellac onto the surface much like one would wipe on an oil finish, when it starts to build I move on. It will lose the extreme luster after a day or two and I can reapply additional shellac to build the surface. I usually stop right as it begins to look like a film finish.
I mix shellac using alcohol and shellac flakes. I enjoy the look of super blonde on most woods, so I keep that on hand.
I hope that you have enjoyed following along with this build and I very much look forward to your comments.
I’ve installed the cabinet and have photos of it in place.