Alcove Furniture WIP (Week 1)

This post is going to follow the WIP (work in progress) of a built-in alcove project from the drawings to installation and completion.

Once reaching stage three of the Commissioning Process I can place an order for the timber, sheet stock, hardware and finishing materials. First to arrive is the sheet stock. 4 Oak veneered and 4 MDf standard.

The first step, and possibly the most important, is to draw up cutting lists for the components and mark out any necessary rods (full size drawings/templates) before dimensioning the sheet stock.

There’s no hard and fast way of doing things but I like to rough cut my panels with the rail saw to a workable size before accurately dimensioning them on the sliding panel saw. I find it’s easier on the back! Some pre cut panels can be seen next to the vice in the background. (BTW the radiator doesn’t usually stand on the bench! 🙂 )

Once dimensioned and labeled up (remember this is going to be a BIG jigsaw, so best to avoid any headaches later on!) the panels have grooves routed to accept their backs.

Once grooved I biscuit joint the panels. These handy little loose tongues help to strengthen the construction by increasing the glue area as well as assisting with locating the joints and edges.

The cabinets are dry fitted and temporarily screwed together to check the fit and act as a reference for the doors and shelves etc.. Later on we will be disassembling to finish and finally glue before installation.

All the cabinets are stacked up and ready to be used for referencing the rest of the project. The Left alcove cabinets are on the right and vica-versa (go figure!). You can see some cabinets have plain backs, these are going to have a custom paint finish – the beauty of bespoke! There is also a cut out in the small cabinet’s back, the AV media cabinet with all it’s cable runs.

Insert tea break somewhere around here 🙂

Next up are Shaker style doors. These are cut on the table saw with tongues and grooves (T&G’s) shaped on the router table. 75mm stiles and rails jointed with stuck T&G’s and a 9mm centre panel.

All glued up (even the back panels as there’ll be no movement concerns in the MDF). A quick measure across the diagonals checks for square… another cup of tea?

Once cleaned up I run a chamfer around the arrises (edges). These doors are being fitted on soft-close concealed hinges, so 35 mm  holes are cut into the door stiles to receive the hinges before fitting to the cabinet cheeks. Did I mention that this project is bespoke? Should you prefer traditional butt hinges we can fit these too.

Next up are the door frames for the glass display case. For a stronger construction and to allow for the glass rebate these are machined out of Beech. I usually use Poplar wood but choose the beech as it was already in stock and with it’s tight grain is nicely suited to the job.

First off is to check the boards for twist, wind, cupping defects etc. before roughly selecting and marking out the components.

The boards are then cut to manageable lengths before machining to thickness.


Facing the boards flat.Squaring the edges.

Checking the edges for square and getting an average thickness before dimensioning the boards to the final 18mm thickness.

Running the boards through the thicknesser.

The prepared boards are ripped along the grain to 75mm and trimmed to length for the door stiles and rails.

Cut to length the stiles and rails are laid out and marked for faces, rebates and Domino loose tongue joints.

Domino joints cut. Note the arris chamfer runs before glue up. I like to emphasise the joints but we can conceal them too.

After glue up a rebate is run around the inside of the frames and the corners are chopped square with a sharp chisel to allow the 4mm toughened glass to be let in.

A quick clean up with the block plane to remove any light saw marks before cleaning up and making ready in the shop for week 2.

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