Cutting Rebates and Raising a Panel

author-gravatar Timmy2Hands Jun 21, 2016

I'm moving right along with this box build.

In this part I will work on cutting the rebates (rabbets) in the bottom panel and adding the raised panel detail to the top panel.

Before I go any further, now is a good time to add some finish to the inside of the box.

I'm using Watco Danish Oil in natural. I apply it with a clean cotton rag, wait 20 minutes, add another coat, and another after that. This maple is really thirsty. Three coats in an hour and then I wipe off any excess.

The Danish oil really brings out the grain without changing the color too much and is really easy to work with. make sure not to get any on the end grain where we need to apply glue later.

Danish oil needs at least a couple of days to really cure, So I'll move on to other things while this dries

It's time to cut the rebates on the 5/8" thick panel that will become the bottom of the box. This rebate will be 1/4" wide and 3/8" deep on all four sides of the panel. There are many ways to make this cut, this is the way I chose to attack it.

First thing is to set a marking gauge to 1/4". This is the distance that the rebate is wide and also the thickness of the tongue that will be left to fit into the grooves we cut into the box sides. I mark the face of the board on all four sides.

I also mark all four edges of the board using the opposite face as my reference. So now I have lines 1/4" in from the edges and 3/8" down from this face. I use a chisel to enhance my knife wall for the end grain cut.

I use my cross cut tenon saw to make this cut, being very careful not to cross my depth line.

I make this cut on both ends.

You can see here that the saw does not get all the way up to the knife wall and that's OK we will clean it up in a bit with our shoulder plane.

I turn the board 90 degrees and use my bench hook as a stop so that I can chisel out the rest of the waste.

These pieces pop off very easily with just a light tap with the hammer.

I use the "half the distance rule" here. My first chop is half the distance to my line, my next chop is again half the distance to the line, and so on until I'm close enough to put my chisel right in the knife line without worrying about any splitting.

Keep an eye on the grain during this operation, you don't want it split down past your depth line.

Once the bulk of the waste is removed I take a couple of passes with the shoulder plane to clean everything up and ensure the rebate is flat and square.

Once both of the end grain sides are done I can move on the the long grain sides.

I'll be using a Stanley #78 Rabbet Plane for this cut. Much like I did with the plow plane earlier I lightly grip the handle in my vise to get better access to the bottom of this plane and set the fence and the depth stop for the cut I'm making. I begin at the far end of the board and take longer and longer cuts moving back toward the other end each time. Once the plane reaches the depth stop it will no longer cut and we're done.

Again after each of these cuts I like to take a couple of passes with the shoulder plane to clean things up.

Now I'm left with a bottom panel that has a 1/4" wide x 3/8" deep rebate on all four sides, and it leaves me a 1/4" x 1/4" tongue all the way around to fit into the grooves of the box sides.

Now I can move on to the raised panel detail on the box lid panel. Again I'll be using two planes for this operation, one for heavy cuts, and one for smoothing.

I'm working off of this end of the bench because the dog holes are closer together down here and I can get a better grip on the piece with two clamps.

I started with the same marking gauge set to 1/4" and ran a line on all four edges 1/4" away from the face. I then drew a pencil line on the face 1 1/2" away from each edge. Now I just need to work down at an angle until those lines are connected.

I always start with the end grain sides first. There is a greater chance of chip-out working across the grain, and if it happens I'll still have the opportunity to clean it up when I cut the long grain side.

Check your cut often and try to keep the edges straight and level.

Once both ends are done, rotate the piece 90 degrees and cut the long grain side.

You will know that you are done when the chamfers meet right in the corner.

So the lines we put on this piece are really just guide lines. Don't be too upset if you have to go past them a little bit to get the edges of the cut straight, or you have to trim a bit more to get the edge all the way down into the bottom of the groove. This is all normal stuff when fitting a panel. As long as your lines are crisp and straight, nobody will ever notice.

Well, I think that all of the joinery cuts are finished and we are getting very close to glue-up.

This is really starting to look like something nice. This is the point in every project where I really start getting excited to see what it will look like with finish on it, but we still have quite a bit of work to do.

 For now though, I'm gonna sweep off the bench and head inside.

Thanks for following along. If you have any questions about the tools or techniques I'm using feel free to leave a comment below.


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This is such an impressive build. I've learned a lot reading these posts so far.

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