Tuesday, December 29, 2009

There are two basic styles of doors used in furniture; slab and panel, but there are several variations to choose from in these styles

Slab doors are just that, a slab of wood. They are usually a piece of solid wood, plywood, medium density fiberboard, etc. They can be plain or have some details to them, but they are usually used in lower quality furniture or in European style cabinets.

Panel doors consist of styles (vertical pieces), rails (horizontal pieces) and a panel of some type. A panel can be wood, glass, plastic, metal, cloth or pretty much any material that can be suspended between the styles & rails. Let’s look at some of the more popular panel styles for furniture.

Flat panel doors are the most basic of the family. The panel can be as simple as a piece of ¼” veneer plywood, although these tend to sound flimsy when they close. A better choice is to use a thicker panel. These require relief cuts to fit into the groove, but they do give the door a more substantial feel.

Raised panel doors as the name states, has the field of the panel raised from the edge. When designing your door panels there are several patterns to choose from. You can use a straight, curved or ogee patterns to name a few.

Cathedral Doors are another version of a panel door. While these can be flat panels, they are more often seen raised. The top rail is changed to incorporate a curve, or curves, giving you an additional decorative element.

These are just some basic facts about door designs used in furniture making. There’s no way I could cover everything in one quick article, so feel free to contact me if you’d like more information.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The chest that couldn’t be repaired – or could it?

I was recently contacted by a customer who had a cedar chest she wanted repaired. It was her mother’s hope chest that has been in the family for over 60 years. She didn’t want it cleaned up or refinished, she wanted it re-veneered. She spoke with several woodworkers about the job and they all said the same thing. Because of the curved top, it couldn’t be done. Then she called me.

I went to their home, looked at the chest and said “I’ll do it”. I must say the chest looked a little worn and had a few repairs that needed to be un-done.

The first step was to remove the old veneer. Some areas just flaked off, while others need a hot air gun, a putty knife and lots of patience.

Once that was done I used a chisel and a palm sander to smooth out the surface. There were several digs and tears in the cedar that needed to be repaired. A little wood filler and some final sanding and it was ready for the next step.

Using a mahogany veneer and contact cement the new face was applied. Special care was used on the curved top and the book-matched front. Some light sanding and it was time to re-assemble the chest.

Some custom mixed stain to match the original chest and I finish it off with several coats of urethane. Finally it was delivery day. Both mother and daughter were overwhelmed with the finished piece, especially after being told several times that the job could not be done.
Some pieces are too far gone to repair, but often times the repair is a matter of finding the correct craftsman. In this case the furniture was structurally sound and just needed some cosmetic work. A family now has a second chance to enjoy an heirloom piece.