Cupboard assembly; part-something-or-other

Tab A into slot B

The upper and lower cases are fully assembled, but not connected. That comes later. Here’s what’s happened lately. I forget which came first. Let’s say it was the lower case. That might be right. In all the test-fits I must have tried about every way to put this together. I finally decided to make it simple. After the main body of it was pinned (a couple of weeks ago) what remained was the upper and lower drawer frames, connected by the turned pillars. Previously I had pictured this as a full unit. But what I finally did was attach the upper drawer’s stiles and rails – then insert the pillars and the shelf they sit in/on – then knock on the bottom drawer frame – that’s what’s happening in the photo below. To make that happen, I trimmed the bottom tenons on the pillars so they just engage the shelf and not those lower stiles. It still works – they’re trapped now.

final assembly

Before the lower case’s top can be pinned on, the soffit needs to be installed. It is a narrow thin piece of oak about 40″ long x 5″ wide. Sits on top of the rail above the recessed drawers and is beveled to fit into a groove in the overhanging lower rail of the top drawer. Then I’ll nail it down to the recessed rail. The one in the photo below is a reject. It’s actually twice-rejected. It was the shelf under the pillars – but it got too thin at one end and there was a gap between the pillar and shelf. So I replaced it, thinking I could make the soffit from it. But the holes for the pillars’ tenons show – so one of tomorrow’s tasks is to rive and plane a thin clapboard-like piece of oak to be the actual soffit.


Here’s where you see the soffit, when you drop something on the floor and happen to look up under the top drawer.

soffit above carved drawer

The upper case had fewer wrinkles. First I had to check my 20-yr-old notes for the tenon on the bottom of the rear stiles. 1/2″, set back 1/2″.

I knew what I needed then

I left that joint til assembly so it didn’t get knocked about in the shop. It’s only 3/4″ long, my notes weren’t perfect, they left that bit out. But it only needs to fit into the top boards of the lower case to keep the upper case from shifting about.

stub tenon

Then putting together the oddball shape. I pinned an oak strip to the bench to shove the case against to bring it together.

get in there

Then pinning the joints.

pinning the back joints

I started putting the oak floor boards in the upper case, but I don’t see any photos of it. So I’ll add “shoot floor” to the list.

(pt 24 Essex County cupboard project 2021)

9 thoughts on “Cupboard assembly; part-something-or-other

  1. Does glue go on the m and t joints or are pins without glue used. This would seem to help lower the stress level in wrestling this beast together.

  2. Such a huge job, particularly when this nutty or ambitious maker tinkered with his format over and over. He must have spent huge amounts of time on layout, then gave pieces to journeymen and apprentices to fabricate. I’d love to examine the Currier cupboard again, after twenty years.

  3. I have been wondering about the assembly process for a while now. It has so many parts, angles, and shapes, I figured your options, when it comes to order of assembly, would be really limited. I am more relieved than I expected, to see it coming together. I didn’t realize I was stressed about it.
    I get a little thrill of excitement when I see a blog post notification in my email inbox. Thanks again for sharing your projects with us.


    • Michael – That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a while. I’m sorry to hear my cupboard assembly was stressing you out. Glad you’re relieved. It’s clear sailing from here…so rest easy.

  4. Peter,

    Wonderful work – such a puzzle going together!

    I see you’re adding color to the red/white oak of the cupboard. You mentioned using black paint for the turnings; could you describe what/how you’re doing to tint the oak? Maybe earth pigments in linseed oil? Application methods?


    • John – I guess I mentioned the red/brown color somewhere, but not here it seems. Right now, it’s a thin wash of milk paint – not really a 17th-century approach – but will dry in short time frame. Oil is very slow to dry. Plus I have to glue stuff onto the oak and testing stuff showed the glue holding over the milk paint wash. A coating of linseed oil once it’s all done will change the tone & finish. You’ll see.

      • was there an alternative to milk paint that was used more frequently in the 17th century, out of curiosity? i was always under the impression that was the paint of choice but it seems i may have been mistaken!

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