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Walnut And Bubinga Buffet

author-gravatar houstonjc Dec 28, 2018

I built this walnut and bubinga buffet to match the dining table and liquor cabinet in my dining room.

Edit:. I'm proud to take 2nd place in the 2018 Year in Review contest.  A big thanks to Katz Moses for the prize; I used an older version of his dovetail jig on the project, and it's great.  Also thanks to the Wood Whisperer.  90% of what I know about woodworking came from Marc, and I'll forever be thankful to him for the inspiration, knowledge, and confidence to do this.  Thanks of course to Sean for giving us a platform to share our work and collaborate.  Cheers.

Done just in time for Christmas is this walnut and bubinga buffet.  I used mostly hardwood for the project (walnut, bubinga, and maple for the drawers) as well as walnut plywood for the side and back panels.  Joinery is primarily mortise and tenon, with some rabbet joints for the shelves, and a few pocket holes for the interior vertical panel (the pocket holes will be well hidden).  For finish, I used a home-mixed shellac for interior components, and an oil based poly for the exterior.  I normally try to avoid stain, but I did apply a mild stain on the walnut to match the chairs in the room.

The legs have a pretty significant curve inward, and the lower rails on all sides include a craftsman-style curve.  I borrowed these design elements from the dining table legs that I built last year (shown below).

The top was made from three solid pieces of walnut, with knot holes included.  I filled he knots with tinted epoxy, and sanded them smooth.

Below you can see the curved stretcher on the table, which influenced the curves at the bottom of the buffet.

 I was not please with the plywood I used on this project.  Even with only light 320 sanding, it showed witness marks from the glue used in the plywood.  I tried sanding through the marks on a piece of scrap, but ended up burning through the veneer.  If I were to do this scale of project again, I would either use shop made veneer, or I would buy thick veneer to use.

The bubinga panels are continuous from right to left, and are bookmatched from a single board.  As with the drawers, I chose the darker material for the center of the case, with lighter material above and below that.  The doors are simple frame and panel doors assembled using mortise and tenon joints and a groove for the panels.

I chose a step-down approach for the piece.  The front of the top, legs, frame and drawers are all inset from one another.  This was to give the piece some visual interest, but was borne from a mostly practical concern.  I was worried about my ability to make my drawers perfectly square and coplaner to the front of the piece by insetting them 1/4" from the frame, i was able to hid very minor imperfections in the drawers.  This will mean that there is some exposed walnut that the rails will ride against when opening the drawers, but only time will tell how much wear damage this will do to the finish.

I used Brusso hinges for the doors, and champagne-colored hardware for all of the pulls.

I experimented with my version of "speed dovetailing", which means spending about 1 to 1.5 hours per drawer.  That left some gaps, but I was overall pleased with my pace and the results.  I elected to leave any gaps that remained.

I cut all dovetails by hand, but used the Katz Moses jig for them all.  I gang cut the tails.  I then clamped the heck out of them to try to force them into square (they ended up being very close).

This was my first time rubbing out shellac with steel wool and wax, and I was amazed at how smooth everything ended up.  All drawer interiors were prefinished prior to assembly.

Here's the webframe construction I used.  I mortised the frames into the front of the case, and rested them on cleats glued to the back of the case.  After building drawer boxes, I then installed the right-hand drawer guides, using playing cards to shim them out to ensure the drawer fronts were flush with the front of the case.  Once they were dried, I put the boxes into the opening, and installed the left-and drawer guides.  This helped to take the boxes (which weren't perfectly square), and still make them run well.

I mirrored my liquor cabinet (below) with a 3" bevel on the underside of the top.  This ties the two pieces together really well.  I "cut" the bevel away with a #4 plane.

I included an adjustable shelf to increase storage flexibility.  It was made from 1/2" walnut plywood with a 3/4" solid wood front edge.  I found that it sagged too much, so I then glued a 3/4" x 2" strip under the shelf for its entire length.  This helped out quite a bit.

One of my favorite features is the integrated wine shelf, which can hold 21 bottles.  I started with a sheet of plywood for the shelf, which I ran across the saw to create  a series of parallel grooves.  I then milled and cut small ribs to for the grooves.  I tapered each rib, rounded it over, and sanded until they were pillowed.  I then rabbeted the solid wood on the front to accept the plywood panel, and assembled.

Here's the case early in the construction process.

You can see the use of pocket holes on the vertical divider here.

Some of the raw material.

Here she is in her final home in the corner of the dining room.

Dining room is complete.  I made the buffet, table, and liquor cabinet.  I outsourced the chairs, but you never know; I may tackle those myself at some point in the future.


Wow.. Simply amazing! Fantastic work on all pieces. You are very talented.

Thanks, Sean!

@Sean  said:

Wow.. Simply amazing! Fantastic work on all pieces. You are very talented.

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