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The Complete Illustrated Guide to Furniture & Cabinet Construction
Step-By-Step Presentation of Basic Furniture Construction Techniques

By Andy Rae

A graphic, step-by-step presentation of basic furniture construction techniques

Expert woodworker and writer Andy Rae takes the construction of furniture and breaks it into components -- from boxes, cases, doors and drawers to shelves and feet. He explains all the techniques used to build them, so you can choose the ones that are best for you. Then he shows you how to put the pieces together to make great furniture.

You'll acquire a working knowledge of woodworking materials, a higher control over your work and tools and an understanding of basic design principles.

  • Graphic, step-by-step presentation of key techniques and methods
  • Visual maps, cross-references and indexes make information easy to find
  • Covers the many woodworking methods and tools available
  • Modern, up-to-date coverage of tools and techniques
  • Part of a three-volume encyclopedia of woodworking


"After 20 plus years of practicing the craft, I still search daily for new ways of working. Once you discover something that works, call it your own and stand by it."

-- Andy Rae


The Complete Illustrated Guides Introducing a new series of books in the tradition of Tage Frid. All the techniques and processes you need to craft beautiful things from wood are compiled into three comprehensive volumes: The Complete Illustrated Guides. Highly visual and written by woodworking's finest craftsmen, these three titles -- Furniture and Cabinet Construction, Shaping Wood and Joinery establish a new standard for shop reference books.

Excerpt:

Assembling Cases

Get it right the first time with the right tools and the proper clamps and clamping technique

by Andy Rae

When you're ready to assemble your furniture, you usually have only one shot to get it right. Once the glue is spread, there's no turning back. Glue up a cabinet out of square, and you'll pay dearly later in the construction process because your error will accumulate so that fitting subsequent parts becomes a nightmare. To get it right the first time, it's vital to have the right assembly tools on hand and to use the proper clamps and clamping technique. After all, who hasn't glued together what was a perfectly fitted miter, only to find the joint slipping out of alignment as you placed pressure on the joint? Learning and practicing the correct approach to assembly will save you untold hours of frustration.

The dry run
One of the best techniques I've come to learn about assembly (and learned it the hard way, meaning I had to make many mistakes first) is to always -- and I mean always -- do a dry run of any assembly. This means assembling all the parts without glue. Make sure you use all the necessary clamps you'll need and check to see that you can confidently close all the joints. In effect, you're practicing the entire assembly sequence.

And 9 times out of 10, you'll discover during a dry run that something is missing or you need more clamps in a specific area to bring an assembly together. Or perhaps you'll need to rethink the glue-up process and break the assembly sequence down into smaller, more manageable parts. It may take more time, but investing in a dry run is well worth avoiding the horror of applying glue, only to find that you can't quite put the parts together as planned.

Assembly tools and jigs
There are innumerable jigs and tricks used in assembly. All are aimed at making the process of putting together multiple parts easier, more accurate, and ultimately less frustrating. There's nothing worse than spreading glue only to find you don't have the right tools or setup ready to go. Here are some essential assembly aids that make glue-ups go a lot smoother.
 
An adjustable pinch rod allows you to compare inside diagonals quickly and to any depth. If they match, the case must be square.
 
An adjustable pinch rod allows you to compare inside diagonals quickly and to any depth. If they match, the case must be square.
 

Reading square with a pinch rod
It's vital to square up a case or opening immediately after assembly--before the glue dries. One way to check for square is to read the diagonal measurements from outside corner to outside corner with a tape measure. When the two measurements are equal, the opening is square. But clamps often get in the way, it's practically impossible to get a reading on the back of the case, and reading the outside corners won't tell you whether the inside of a deep case is square. A more accurate method is to use a pinch rod.

Pinch Rod
Pinch Rod
 

A traditional pinch rod is simply two sticks, sharpened at one end, that you pinch, or hold together, in the center. The modified version shown at right adds clamping heads that make things a little easier and more precise. Set the rod to the length of one of the diagonals; then check the opposite diagonal inside the case. Push the sticks into the case to read the entire depth. Keep adjusting the rod (and the case) until the rod fits equally between both diagonals.

A squared-up board cut to the width of the inside provides an easy way to square up a case.
 
A squared-up board cut to the width of the inside provides an easy way to square up a case.
 
A box full of shim materials comes in handy during glue-up.
A box full of shim materials comes in handy during glue-up.
 

Squaring a case with a board
As an aid to assembling a case square, cut a piece of plywood to the exact width of the case opening, making sure adjacent edges are square. Before you clamp the case joints, clamp the board inside the case, lining up one edge of the board with the case sides. Voila! No more twisted or out-of-square openings.

Shims and blocks align parts
It's a good idea to keep on hand a variety of shims and blocks in varying thicknesses, from playing cards, squares of plastic laminate, and strips of leather to 1/4-in.-, 1/2-in.-, and 3/4-in.-thick blocks of wood. These spacers help align or position parts during glue-up, and they're great for protecting the surface of your work. In the photo at right, small squares of MDF align the clamp heads over the center of the joint, while plastic shims prevent the pipes from dinging the surface

 

Simple plywood risers elevate the work for easy clamping.
 
Simple plywood risers elevate the work for easy clamping.
 

Riser blocks raise the work
Gluing up assemblies often means having to get underneath the work to attach clamps or other parts. The simplest answer is to raise the entire assembly on blocks of wood. But finding stock thick enough can be a pain. Just as strong, and easier to make, are sets of riser blocks made from 3/4-in. plywood glued and nailed together. Blocks about 5 in. high by 2 ft. long are sufficient for almost all your glue-ups.

A piece of tape comes in handy as a third hand when positioning clamping cauls.
 
A piece of tape comes in handy as a third hand when positioning clamping cauls.
 

Clamping cauls
Like blocks, cauls made from scrap material can prevent dings in your work. More important, cauls distribute more clamping pressure across a joint, allowing you to use far fewer clamps when gluing up. For broad gluing surfaces, use bowed clamping cauls.

For narrow joints, scrap plywood or leftover sticks of wood work fine. The trick to getting the cauls to stay where you want them until you add the clamps is to tape them temporarily in place.

A wedge-shaped block helps seat dovetails in their sockets.
 
A wedge-shaped block helps seat dovetails in their sockets.
 

Dovetail tapping wedge
In many cases, you don't need to bother clamping dovetail joints, especially on small box constructions, such as a drawer. To assemble and fully seat the joints without damaging the pins, tap over the joint with a wedged-shaped block of dense wood. The shape of the block allows you to position it over the joint regardless of the size of the tail.

Introduction:

Making furniture is one of the most satisfying ways to pass time: The schiiick of a plane iron on wood; the dizzying aroma of freshly sawn sugar pine or East Indian rosewood; the endless array of color, texture, and feel of woods from around the world; the tense but joyful final assembly, when all work and toil come together in a conclusive burst of completion. What excitement! This is the fine -- and fun -- art of woodworking. The reward is beautiful furniture.

To experience this excitement, you'll need to have a degree of control over your work and your tools, command a working knowledge of your materials, and understand some basic design principles. Unlike most other crafts, furniture making and cabinetmaking demand vast knowledge -- and attentiveness. You must know what tools and techniques to use and how to arrange the correct sequence, or order, of events when using them. You should listen with attentive ears and eyes to the material you're working and choose wood wisely, allowing for its eccentricities. With its countless pieces and parts, cabinetmaking involves a high level of organization, and organizing your work and your shop space are part and parcel of the craft. By combining all your skills, you can make any type of furniture your dreams conjure up. You're limited only by your imagination. I hope this book will provide you with a starting point for these skills. With practice, many small joys are waiting for you. They're worth seeking.

Above all, be patient. It takes time to master some of the smallest things. There are tricks and shortcuts, of course. They come with experience, and many are shown in the pages ahead. More important is the awareness that comes from trying many approaches and finding one that works for you. In a very real sense, woodworking is a personal journey. That's because there is no right or wrong way of making furniture. What counts is what works. After 20 plus years of practicing the craft, I still search daily for new ways of working. Once you discover something that works, call it your own, and stand by it. You'll have found something that will make your woodworking more pleasurable. And your fine furniture will reflect the results.

Table of Contents:

Introduction

How to Use This Book


Part One Tools and Materials

SECTION 1 Shop Necessities
Shop Space and Fixtures
Mobilize Your Workshop

SECTION 2 Woodworking Machines and Tools
Basic Handheld Power Tools
Favorite Edge Tools
Fundamental Layout Tools
Sharpening Gear
Clamps

SECTION 3 Working Wood
Buying and Preparing Solid Wood
Flattening a Board by Hand
Smoothing with Edge Tools
Good Sanding Techniques
Keeping Parts Flat
Plywood and Other Man-Made Boards
Mixing Materials
Laying Out and Cutting Plywood
Making Your Mark
Choosing and Using Glue

SECTION 4 Designing Furniture
Understanding Wood Movement


Part Two Box and Case Construction

SECTION 5 Basic Cases
Inside Case Parts
Securing to a Wall

SECTION 6 Shelves
Shelf Joinery
Open Shelves
Shelf Options
Dressing Up a Shelf

SECTION 7 Nails, Screws, and Other Fasteners
Nails and Screws
Hardware Solutions

SECTION 8 Assembling Cases
Clamping Problems

SECTION 9 Cutting and Attaching Moldings
Working with Moldings

SECTION 10 Drawers
Drawer Construction
Tray Construction
Drawer Interiors

SECTION 11 Drawer Hardware
Drawer Slides
Computer Hardware
Drawer Pulls

Part Three Doors

SECTION 12 Building Doors
Doors with Panels
Solid Doors
Glass Lights

SECTION 13 Fitting and Hinging Doors
Installing Basic Hinges
Specialty Hinges
Shopmade Hinges
Hiding Doors

SECTION 14 Door Pulls and Hardware
Pulls and Handles
Locks
Catches and Bumpers


Part Four Bases, Feet, and Stands

SECTION 15 Bases
Toekicks
Installing Cabinets

SECTION 16 Feet
Feet and Casters

SECTION 17 Stands
Making Stands

Part Five Frame Construction

SECTION 18 Legs and Aprons
Strong Joints
Aprons and Rails
Legs

SECTION 19 Chairs and Stools
Chair Joints
Chair Backs
Chair Seats
Hitting the Floor

SECTION 20 Face Frames
Making Face Frames
Corner Units

SECTION 21 Frame and Panel
Making Panels
Back Strategies


Part Six Tabletops and Work Surfaces

SECTION 22 Making Tops
Top Construction
Top Options
Leaves and Ends

SECTION 23 Attaching Tops
Allowing for Movement
Hardware Solutions

Sources

Further Reading

Index

Hardcover, 9-1/4 X 10-7/8 in., 320 pages, with color photos and drawings.
Published 2005

ISBN 978-1-56158-402-4

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Furniture & Cabinet Construction - Hard-cover - Taunton Press - RC-T070534 - ISBN: 1561584029 - ISBN-13: 9781561584024
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3 Volume SlipCase Set: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Woodworking - Taunton Press - RC-T070665 - ISBN: 1561586021 - ISBN-13: 9781561586028
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The Complete Illustrated Guide to Furniture & Cabinet Construction - Hard-cover - Taunton Press - RC-T070534 - ISBN: 1561584029 - ISBN-13: 9781561584024
Hardcover, 320 pages

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Free Super Saver Shipping

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3 Volume Set
Joinery
Shaping Wood
Furniture & Cabinet Construction

3 Volume SlipCase Set: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Woodworking - Taunton Press - RC-T070665 - ISBN: 1561586021 - ISBN-13: 9781561586028
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