Building the Cabinet

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Robert Sfeir

I designed a liquor cabinet. It was inspired by the Monticello Bookcase. It’s two pieces, the top will hold liquor and the bottom wine and glasses. The style is a cross of shaker with mid-century modern. The plan is to have clean lines, but also show some of the joinery for the case. The joinery will be a mix of half blind mitered dovetails for the top, and through mitered dovetails for the rest of the case. The top cabinet will have a door that flips open so it can serve as a drink prep station, and the bottom cabinet will have sliding paneled doors.

While the boards have been glued and prepped for a while, I spent the past couple of weeks agonizing with the pattern of the dovetails. I didn’t want evenly space tails, I wanted something with a little more flair, because why not, and because I wanted to learn how. Every piece I build I try to find something to teach me something new. The challenge here is to not only have a dovetail pattern but the pattern needed to match the stacking cases.

Today I finally got to the shop to lay down the tail with the final design I liked. But to be sure, I laid out a piece of butcher paper on top of the side of the cabinet and drew the tails to scale, and stared at them for a bit to make sure I wasn’t going to hate them.

Once the tails were drawn, I split the long board I’d built for the sides at 16″, then I proceeded to square off the ends to the reference face.

From there it was a matter of marking all the tails across the boards. I decided to gang cut the 4 boards together, taking care that I had the reference edges and faces in the correct order. A mess up here would mean tails that don’t align when flipped back together.

Once everything was sawn, it was time to remove the waste for the pins.

Once that was done, I squared up and cleaned up all the tails to be sure that they were nice and square so that there are no surprises when I transfer the pins to the mating board, and to reduce the finessing I’ll need to do to fit the boards together.

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