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Building a Small Entertainment Center

Building a Curved Cabinet

The next step is to build the top. I want a finished thickness of 1 1/4 inches, so I'll use a piece of 3/4" F.X.P., and add a piece of ultra light M.D.F. around the edges. I also want the top to fit over the cabinet, hiding any gaps that could be visible while seated nearby. This requires attaching the "build up" strips, laying the top in place, and drawing around the cabinet. It's then a matter of cutting out the shape, taking care to cut it out. I used the scroll saw for this, but a band saw or jig saw would be fine.


With the cutout made, and the top test fit, I marked around the cabinet using a scribe, marking the desired overhang. I cut this with a jig saw, taking care to stay outside the line. I then sanded to the line. It is far safer to do it this way, then it is to try to cut it exactly on the line.

Cabinet edge build up Rough cut top

Satisfied with the overall apperance, I sanded to my lines, and veneered the edge with Ebony, using the same ironing technique. Deciding what to do with the top itself is another issue. I would prefer to do some sort of marquetry, while my wife would prefer something very plain. Kind of like when she's cooking hamburgers. I want a plain 'ole fashioned hamburger, but my wife wants to make some sort of Gourmet Burger, which when finished, looks noting like a hamburger, and certainly doesn't tast like it. So, with that in mind, a simple top it is.

Working with large pieces of satinwood is like working with the devil. (I think my wife knew that when she picked it). It is so brittle, if you look at it hard, it will split down a 10 foot piece, and splinter along the way, so fixing it is quite impossible. There are so many variations to the hardness of it along the grain lines, it's like working with a combination of three different woods, all mixed together. Each time I do something with it I swear it will be the last time. I wish I had a better memory.

Getting ready for the vacuum bag.  Testing the bag for leaks  Installing spacers under the top 

The vacuum bag requires a platen with saw kerfs cut into it, for the workpiece to sit on. This lets the vacumm to get all the air out of the bag. It's also good idea to ALWAYS test the vacuum bag BEFORE glung your pieces. After the glue has been applied, it's a very poor time to find out there's a problem. I installed a temporary spacer on the underside of the top to prevent the vacuum from either crushing the top, or at the very least deforming it, by creating a bow in the middle.

Normally, I trim the veneer to about 1/2" larger than the substrate, but a lack of time prevented it, this time around. I did use a platen on the top, which was precut to be slightly larger than the top. This prevents the edges from being crushed.

Having just come in from the shop, where I attempted to glue the layed up top, (a fancy way of saying the pieces were taped tgether to form a larger piece), it entire piece self destructed. It is now in about five seperate pieces. That's more than I started with! since the substrate was also glued, using uni bond 800, I did a quick and dirty field seam, stuck it in the vacuum bag, and drank two beers. Then I made a dash for the house to take a nap. I know when I'm having a bad day, and refuse to deal with it. I just don't need that kind of aggrevation. (at my age). After a few hours, I'll go out, pull the top out of the vacuum bag, and determine the extent of the damage. I may have to start over, but that won't happen today, that's for certain.

Veneer in the bag  Replacement veneer in the bag

Well, just back in from the shop, about 7 hours later. I pulled the top out of the bag and low and behold, it was fine. The quick and dirty joint looked real good, so no harm done. I want to do an ebony border of some sort, not quite decided on that yet but I do know the ends will have a circle of ebony. Once that's done, I'll decide if it needs anything more.

I set up a D - Handled router with an 1/8" mortising bit, on the circle cutting jig, and laid out the circle. Then making a few passes with the router I was able to clean it up with my paring chisels. Since it's now 11:30, I'll clean up the second circle and start the ebony inlay tomorrow. No Point in screwing it up now because I'm tired.

The top out of the bag, with circles routed into it for the border  Border area routed out  Border area veneer cleaned out with paring chisels


Back To pg. #1  Back To pg. #2  Back To pg. #3  Continued pg. # 5

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