Cabinet Doors

I have been building some doors for a built-in cabinet and bookshelf project.  Each corner of these doors are held together with something called a haunched mortise and tenon joint.  So what is that and who cares anyway?  Well, a joint is any place where two pieces of wood connect.  Joints can be super, duper simple (like nails) or crazy complex.  I almost always choose to cut joints that stay together without nails or screws.  Such joints are stronger, more durable, and make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.   Seriously, though, while there are simpler ways to build a door (biscuit joints, domino joints, screws, glue and optimism), I choose to use hand cut joinery for a number of reasons.  For one, it is important to me to carry on this centuries old technique.  Also, this type of joinery creates a strong door that resists wracking (distortion caused by changes in humidity and temperature).  So it a superior product that makes me feel good inside.  That’s a win-win.

I won’t go through the whole process of laying out and cutting a mortise and tenon joint.  But let me give you a walk-through.  Here is a mortise (hole) cut into a door stile.  I made this mortise using a drill press, a chisel, and a hammer.

door mortise

Here is the mating tenon, which I cut with a type of handsaw called a back saw.

door tenon

The tenon needed a tiny bit of cleaning up with chisel. (Don’t know why this picture look like a still shot from a dream sequence.)

trimming tenon

And here is the door fit together.  I used liquid hide glue to reinforce the joints.

door gluing up

This door is slightly over-sized.  Once the glue dries, I will take the clamps off and trim off those ears on the bottom.

Thanks for reading. Keep well.

Wonderful Variety

Fall is here and things in the shop have been busy.  Before I delve into what’s being built river in fall

check out this view of the river from the back of the property.  There is always something going on here.  Okay, on to the shop work. . .

I have been building a built-in unit.  This is a rewarding project that is giving me a chance to not only build but also repair drywall and paint.  (I began my work in building and creating working for my father as a house painter, so I am on firm ground with this type of work.)  In addition, I have also, been able to build the table top for this customer.  Here are some process photos:


Here I am making a template of the top of the cabinet so the counter top can fit exactly into the space.  Because the walls aren’t exactly square it would be folly to just build a rectangular counter top and hope it fits.  I then use this template to size the finished counter top.

table top test fit

And here is an image of a test fit of that counter top.  You can also see some in-process drywall work on the wall in the back.  Now that this counter top is confirmed to be the right size, I can take it back to the shop to be finished.

This built-in unit will have ship lap against the wall in the back.  I’ve already cut the ship lap and I am painting it while applying the finish to the counter top.  It is important to keep dust to a minimum while I am applying finishes, so not a lot of building can go until this step is done.

In addition to the built-in project, I also added a simple plane till to the shop.  Nothing too elaborate but I was glad for the opportunity to hand cut some joints.


The carcass of this till is constructed with hand-cut dovetails.  The shelf that the planes are sitting on is secured with a hand-cut dado joint and the ship lap in the back was also made without the aid of power tools.  I genuinely love working this way.  Anyway, that’s it for now.  Its time to get back to work.