Friday, April 29, 2016

A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (54)

Today was the day: glue up of cabinet 1. This is where months of work can be ruined in less than an hour, so I was naturally a bit on edge.

Prior to gluing, I masked off where required, and used a gouge to make a pair of slight hollows on the side of each dovetail pin:

I did the same on the sides of the tails. The dovetail joints are a tight fit, so the hollows ensure that there will be some glue trapped within and it won’t nearly all get squeezed out by assembly. When I use glue, I try to do so judiciously, not just slathering it on everywhere. My goal is an absolute minimum of squeeze out, and I only apply glue to places where the grain-to-grain bond is a sound one. I keep glue off of end grain insofar as possible.

I was doing this glue-up solo, and therefore needed the maximum glue open time I could obtain. This ruled out hide glue and aliphatic (PVA) glue. Resorcinol would have been an option, however shop temperature is below 70˚ to that was out. I opted for a System 3 epoxy product, T-88:

This 2-part adhesive gives 45~60 minutes of open time, and cures slowly. Slow-curing epoxy is the strongest epoxy, but I mostly was after the long open time. As it turned out, the shop temp of 55˚ or so made the set slower yet, so a full hour proved to be the working time. The drawback to this epoxy is that the clamps need to be left on overnight and a full 24 hours is required for the initial cure, with the cure continuing for a further couple of days beyond that.

Still, when the epoxy was mixed, I was uncertain how much time I had or what might eventuate, so it was full steam ahead. I filmed the whole thing, but after I was done I discovered that the camera position was such that the top of the cabinet was out of view. That was too bad, but “learn as you go”. So, I’ll do another video, with a better camera angle, when I put cabinet #2 together in the near future.

When the dust had settled, things had gone totally as planned, the cabinet was together and looking good:

I took a walk outside and sat by the bank of the river for a while to relax.

I was of course wanting all the joints which were just connected, some 32 mortise and tenons, plus the dovetails, to be drawn up nice and tight with no gaps. And that was the outcome - whew!

Here’s one junction:


Another one:

Another rail-meets-carcase side:

A few photos now to show some of the longer joint interfaces, where the fits came out as I wanted and a minimum of glue squeeze out. This is the junction of the upper shelf panel and rail to the carcase side:

The inside of the upper carcase corner:

One drop of squeeze out along that junction is definitely something I can live with.

The opposite upper corner - again, one drop of squeeze-out:

Shelf and rail meets right side carcase wall:

I managed to stand the beast up - with the clamps attached it was especially heavy:

Another view:

The back side:


As the day drew to a close, I had the upper shelf assembly glued and joined onto the second cabinet:

I intend to be slightly more organized for the next glue up - lessons learned - and hope to produce a video to boot. Stay tuned for more, and thanks for visiting.

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