Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Greatest Curly Maple & Walnut Cabinet You'll Ever See


Once upon a time (more specifically a couple of months ago), Rob got a call from a fellow who had stumbled upon some photos of his Maple Burl Cabinet and wanted one for his own home in California. No problemo Walter, we're on it!

Back in my first weeks as an apprentice at the Lohr Woodworking shop, the guys and I took a trip down the road to a cemetery that had a fallen maple tree. We brought along our collection of chainsaws and the Alaskan chainsaw mill and turned that fallen tree into an assortment of insanely figured slabs. Perfectly timed, here we find ourselves three years later with the maple slabs perfectly dried, kilned, and ready for use. The colors, curly figure, and grain patterns found inside that maple log were truly breathtaking and could not be better used that to be showcased as solid wood door and cabinet panels for generations to come.

After deciding which portions of the book-match pair of slabs would serve as door panels, side panels, and the cabinet's top respectively, the slabs were cut down and milled. In order to maintain the book-matching aesthetic throughout the piece, we left the boards as thick as possible and Rob resawed the pieces destined for door and side panels so that they could be opened and presented as [nearly] mirror images of one another.


Lucky for present-day us, past us had done most of the work for the carcase a couple of years ahead of schedule. In the early stages of designing our third-level advanced woodworking course, Jeff and Rob were contemplating making the project of the course a variation of this particular cabinet.

Fun fact- On my very first day here, I was put to work cutting and fitting some of the joinery for this carcase I was the 'perfect guinea pig' for the prospective course project. Can you tell by my bizarre saw-holding technique that I had never done any woodworking before that day? But, check out those sweet carcase pieces! I had nothing to do with those, that was all Rob, but I did do a stellar job butchering some tenons in 2012.

Ultimately, we designed the third-level course to focus on veneer cabinetwork but, all my hard work (completed in an anxious, I-have-no-idea-what-I-am-doing, first-day-jitters mindset) came in handy three years later. With just a few tenons to fit, a few plows to cut, and a rail or two to shape with a curve, we were off and running and ready for panels. The entire carcase is made of solid black walnut and held together with mortise and tenon joinery. There are plows cut along the inside edges to accept the maple panels.


The rest of the cabinet came together in small, intricate stages. I went to work to cut gains for the pivot (aka center) hinges into the carcase and the doors. When those were done, I hung the doors and fussed with them until they presented an even reveal. For those that have never hung doors before, just know that it's an adventure every time. [Shameless plug: Watch Rob's Craftsy class to learn more about our strategy for doors and cabinetry]

Rob took on the Greene-and-Greene style breadboard end table top. The electric figured maple top is ensured a lifetime of flatness because of its end pieces of a perpendicular grain direction, elongated screw slots to attach it securely while allowing for wood movement, button-style plugs for traditional Arts & Crafts functional detail, and signature Lohr-style spline insert to accent the tongue and groove joinery. 

We both tackled the bottom board and shelf bits as they needed to fit just right into the carcase as well as include tongues that extended through the mortises in the side rails of the cabinet. When they were fitted, we cut notches through the tusk tenons that extended outside the cabinet so that we could wedge pins down into them and lock the shelf and bottom boards into place. The cabinet is designed with knock-down construction for easy movability, therefore the pins were doing what they implied in holding the whole piece together.

With a burned-in brand to the bottom, she was ready for finishing! All the parts of the cabinet were treated with BLO, left to dry thoroughly for a week, and then a clear coat finish was applied. The breadboard top was coated with five coats of Waterlox to provide a durable surface able to be used and abused as furniture should. The cabinet was sprayed with lacquer to provide an even, not-too-shiny, protective coat to the base and it's inside shelving.



And as soon as it started, it was done. We spend some time taking some photos of the piece before we were off to the packing and shipping center to send her to her forever home. A huge thanks to Walter for commissioning us to craft this stunning cabinet for you! We hope you enjoy owning it as much as we enjoyed making it. An equally as huge thank you to Rob for designing such a sweet cabinet and letting me help you make it.

We have lots more commissions coming up the pipeline so keep your eyes out for new blog posts throughout the winter! Now, I'm off to Florida because it's cold here. But seriously, don't expect a new blog post in the next week because I'll be soaking up the sun.

Happy Holidays from me & the entire (3 whole people) Lohr Woodworking team!

2 comments:

  1. Thank you SO much for taking time to bring us into the shop with y'all . . . and speaking from experience, if anyone who's reading this hasn't watched Rob's Craftsy class on doors, DO IT!! It's well worth your time . . . and don't forget the sunscreen, Larissa!!

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