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Queen Anne Style Cherry Armoire (Work In Progress)

author-gravatar craftingwood May 05, 2017

This is an armoire in a Queen Anne style, similar to the offerings of Pennsylvania House back in their hayday.  I designed it entirely including the mouldings, which are made using hollows and rounds.  It was built using all hand tools.  Cherry is the primary wood with poplar as the secondary; a bit of scrap white oak was used for high wear parts (drawer rails) but only beacause I had it from the last project.

It is separable into two pieces for moving with a split waist moulding that (hopefully) hides the joint.  We'll see once the cabinet is done.

The brass is all from Horton Brasses.  I've beenvery pleased with their quality.  It is finished with garnet shellac rubbed out with paste wax to a satin sheen.

One third the way done!  To make it easier to move, the armoire is two separate pieces.  I've completed the lower chest of drawers and am starting on the cabinet.  Since it is such a large project, I decided to post what I've done so far.  The chest and drawers are pretty standard construction.  Dovetails blind of one eye for the chest corners, drawbored mortise and tenon web frame with dust panels set in dados for the upper drawers.  Nailed on plinth and waist moulding.  Ogee bracket feet.  Dovetailed overhung drawers with glued in drawer slips to hold the bottom.  The following build photos focus on some of the aspects that I dont see much on this sub.

This is the plan.  I evaluated the dimensions of lots of similar pieces and then designed this to fit my needs and to use pleasing ratios of the dimensions, a la By Hand and Eye.  Inside the cabinet will be three rows of drawers totalling seven drawers and two shelves.

A view from the rear with the back removed.  You can see the web frame for the upper drawers.

And with the back.  Attaching the back with cut clout nails was the very last step.  Having full access at the rear was very helpful for fitting the drawers, especially the kickers.

The back was built oversize, planed down to a perfect fit, then rebated.

Cutting the plinth moulding.  It starts with rebates and a chamfer.  This was my first project using hollows and rounds.  I read Mouldings in Practice from LAP and it did a great job of demystifying their use.  Each moulding was prototyped in poplar before going to cherry.

Round over the chamfer into the round.

Cut down the rebates into the cove.

Smooth it out.

Plinth installed.

Lower waist moulding in progress.  Again, a chamfer to guide the hollow and a rebate to guide the round.  The waist will be in two parts.  This one is attached to the chest and a 1/2" quarter round will be attached to the cabinet.

Waist installed.

Prototyping the feet.

I've posted the build of my feet, but I basically followed this walkthrough:

Here I have laminated poplar to cherry to beef up the ankle and traced my profile on.  I had some 1/8" PVC sheet that was great for making patterns.  It cuts with an exacto knife.  I took my paper drawing, poked through the key points, redrew on the pvc, and cut it out.  Same for the other two mouldings. 

Plow plane hogs out as much as it can.  A jack plane reduces the remaining areas.

The widest round I have is 7/8".  It worked to define the shape but left it fairly faceted.  

Scrapers and sand paper finish the sticks.

Cut out the parts.  The rear legs end square and get a dovetailed bracket, the fronts are mitered.

Wide miter shooting board that I made just for these.

The key to the wide miter shooting board are the ends.  So I build a new narrow miter shooting board first.

Cutting out the profile.  I chose to miter then profile; see the LAP article for a discussion of the tradoffs.

Hidden dovetails dont have to be pretty to be strong.  Pretty dovetails are slow dovetails.  Do the best you can in a quick manner.

Clamping the front feet is mostly impossible.  I had excelent miter fitup dry, but they became a bit gappy due to not great clamping.  The gaps got filled in pretty well by the finish though.

Up close you can see the gaps, but they aren't blaringly obvious from normal viewing angles.

Here you can see the glue blocks.  The feet don't touch the ground so that sliding the chest won't damage them.  This was one of the few times modern tools were the best method.  A brad nailer is a much more accurate way to attach the glue blocks than trying to drive normal nails without damaging the show faces.

For the overhung drawers, drilling out the corners of the halfblind pins helped tremendously with the subsequent chisel work.

Not too shabby.

I dovetailed the four sides together, then cut the moulding and finished the fronts.

Cutting the drawer front moulding

Pretty standard stuff for the drawers.

A bit about how I build drawers.  I like thin drawer sides because they look nice, give more usable space, and take less wood.  Thus I can resaw 4/4 and get a ~7/16" drawer side/back and a ~5/16 piece for the bottom.  The bottom pieces just need one clean face and dont need to be flat; they just need to be able to be bent flat. Here, the wider piece has a flat surface, though the camera angle makes it look a bit curved.  The thin piece is held flat at the far end; you can see how much bow and twist the thin piece has.  It doesn't matter.

The middle board is that badly twisted and bowed board.  By forcing it into a close enough position when doing the glueup, the panel was close to flat.  Then the groove in the drawer slips and the nails into the back hold it in a flat plane.

The bottom of drawers don't need to be pretty, especially when you have dust panels separating the rows.  There is no need to clean this up and make it thinner.  It will never be seen.

Glueing the kickers.  Yes this is cross grain; no I am not very worried.  These are nailed and glued.  They are small compared to the chest, so the chest will win and these will go where the chest wants them too.  Maybe one day I will have to pare them down in the middle if the chest shrinks and the bow down towards the drawers.

The finish is garnet shellac.  For some reason it was very touchy.  I had set the drawer on a clean tshirt on my bench to glue the drawer slips in and just set weights on the slip as clamps. The weight on the drawer sitting on a fold in the shirt impressed the knit patter into the shellac.

But fear not.  Because shellac is redisolvable, I buffed it a few times with a 1/2 lb cut of shellac soaked into 0000 steel wool.  Just like new.

Finally the brass.  This is a semibright chased brass pull from Horton Brasses.

1 comment

Holy crap this is an impressive project! Horton Brasses sure does make high quality brass hardware don't they?

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