Finally something I haven’t already covered on the blog

Often when choosing a subject for the blog, I sound like a broken record (we can use that expression now, because people are using vinyl again) – spoons, carved oak, chests, boxes, chairs. Birds. After 7 years, it’s pretty rare when I have a woodworking project that I haven’t covered before on the blog. I tend to make the same things over & over. Mostly. But I know I haven’t made one of these cupboards in all that time, so here goes nothing. These are simple affairs; a combination of a carcass like a six-board chest, but with a joined front. Here’s one I did 12 years ago, when we worked on PBS’ Colonial House.



For the new one, I had worked the oak frame up last week, then took it to the shop to saw out & fit the pine ends, shelves and back. I have some nice wide pine boards to use, here I’m ripping the sapwood off, to bring it down to 18″ wide. I tend to do ripping like this, at the workbench, upright. 2 hands. Easy to see my line this way, and I like not being hunched over.

2 handed sawing


then I marked out the cut-outs for the feet. These are just based on looking at several board chests, but aren’t specific copies of any one foot pattern.

you do it like that


The resulting end board.



This photo goes backwards in time; I’m rabbeting the inside face of the front stile, to insert the edge of the end board. rabbetThis cupboard will have a central door, opening on wooden pintle hinges. Here’s the mortise for a muntin; and to the left of it, a hole bored for the pintle the door will swing on. To the right, a panel groove.


The other muntin with a rabbet planed in it, to stop the door from swinging into the cupboard.



I cut notches in the inside faces of the ends, for shelves at the bottom & halfway up the height of the cupboard. I rarely make these, so don’t have a router plane. I just make two saw kerfs, and pare out between them with a chisel. You can see I lean the chisel this way & that, to come down to the saw kerf, then I’ll remove the peaked middle. Not as neat as a router plane…


Here’s the cupboard front and one end leaning side by side while I worked on the other end.

front & one end


Then I bored pilot holes, and nailed the front to the edges of the ends. You can either assemble the front frame around the door, or insert the door afterwards. Because I haven’t made the door yet, I chose option B. All in all, a little bit of joinery, a few rabbets, and a bunch of stout nails.

assembly begun

Later today I got the shelves in, and cut out the board for the top. I’ve had to change the way the back will fit, because I cut one shelf 1″ too short! So had to switch some stock around. I had zero extra pine boards. Friday and next week I’ll finish this up & show you what happened.


20 thoughts on “Finally something I haven’t already covered on the blog

  1. I like the cupboard you made 12 years ago. I can’t wait to see this when it is finished. I wish I could attend one of your courses (I don’t know if there are any, but I am sure they don’t take place in Europe).

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Good luck!

  2. Helloooooo Peter,

    I’ve been getting your blogs for about a month. Didn’t know you were such a naturalist.

    I enjoy your woodworking techniques. Just watched your “wainscot chair” DVD for the 3rd time.

    You really “hack out” some parts. In some of my attempts, I had a hard time to convince the

    Guild members that some what rough was OK. They just seem to like 150 grit sandpaper !!

    It is always interesting to see you do the work with minimal tools. That is really just like

    it was back in history. They didn’t have Rocklers to run out to and get the latest in tooling.

    I once read about a novel (really read it ! ) that had a setting in the 12-13th century. The mason

    did layout of work on boards skimmed with plaster. Scratched the drawing as geometric

    forms. If a mistake was made, just washed it lightly, let it dry, and draw again. Unique !

    Our modern day craftsmen like photocopiers, pencils & paper. That just didn’t exist in history.

    The use of tools down to the “bare bones” interests me. So, I am developing an interest

    in Wm. & Mary and earlier ! There’s Hope. Lookout, competition is coming !! Ha, ha.


  3. Peter, really enjoy your work as well as blog. Just curious as to pentle hinge for the cupboard door. Once the face frame is constructed, what is the technique for getting the door on the pentles?
    thank you for what you share with us…….


    • Ahhh. Patience, that’s next week. It’s simple, really. One wooden pin sneaks up into the bottom of the door, so you tilt it in, and then the pin drops down into the rail. You’ll see.

  4. Very impressive work. Just some basic newbie questions:

    Is the use of pine for sides and oak for the front a common Period choice?

    Was all final smoothing done with planes in this period? I see one side has a knot or two. What was their technique for voiding tear-out on the far side of the knot? Approaching from both directions? If they did get some tear-out, what did they do to smooth that out – if anything?

    • Gregg – let’s see. Few of these board/joined combos surivive from early New England. But some of those are oak/pine, some are oak/oak. In old England, it’s usually Oak/Oak.
      final smoothing – planes – yes. Around knots, light shavings, sharp planes. Differing angles of attack. expect some torn grain. live with it. Saw marks on feet. Get in there w a chisel & pare them. that’s what I do, no idea what joiners of old did…

      • Thank you very much for the reply.

        So I take it that if one views stuff made from that Period, you will occasionally come across tear-out and everyone lived with it…

  5. Sorry one other question:

    What, if anything, did they do to smooth the saw marks after the feet were sawn out?


  6. Hi Peter!

    Nice looking cupboard! Giving me all sorts of ideas! Of course, I should probably finish the chest from last summer at Roy’s first! Alas. Hopefully this weekend…..

    Speaking of which, enjoy the holiday weekend and watch out for any stray bunnies carrying baskets!


  7. Ya know, you can listen to a good song, over and over. It never gets old and you always pick up some little nuance. Of course, ya get old enough, every song you hear is new…it’s great! After reading some of the earlier comments, I’d just like to say that for a guy who works with an axe, you do really nice work.


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