Building a Cherry TV Cabinet with Hand Tools – Part I
JAPANESE HAND TOOLS
READ Part II of Building a Cherry TV Cabinet with Hand Tools
This little curly cherry TV cabinet presented good opportunities to use hand tools. The hand planed surfaces, half blind dovetail case construction and the fitting of the sliding doors are a few of the main areas that hand tools were not only more enjoyable to use but also better suited than power tools or sandpaper. As with any project there are always multiple ways to achieve the same results. The techniques described here have as much to do with the tools at hand as they have to to with any sense of being definitive.
The design is simple enough, a rectilinear box 43″w x 20″h x 16″d. The box consists of a top joined to the side panels by half-blind dovetails. The bottom and center partition are fitted with sliding dovetails. An arched toe board supports the bottom panel at the front. The case is enclosed in the front with a pair of sliding doors. The lefthand compartment has back panels, while the righthand compartment is left open in the rear to allow for AV wiring. The piece is constructed from 5/4 deeply figured cherry which ended up 15/16″ thick.
The primary panels were milled and joined in standard fashion using typical machinery, leaving components an extra 1/8″ wide and 1″ long. After glue-up I thicknessed the panels to a nominal 1″ on a drum sander.
At this point the real fun began. I sharpened two hira kanna, Japanese smoothing planes, a 55 mm Ishihisa and an old 65 mm kanna that I picked up on eBay. In the first video below you will see me planing both faces of the panels with the 55 mm kanna. My main objectives are to clear away all the sanding scratches and get a good feel for grain direction. Most surfaces required three medium passes to achieve this.
Planing with Hira Kanna – Part 1
Once the grain direction was established and the surfaces planed clean of sanding or other signs of machining I switched to a 65 mm smoothing plane tuned up for finishing work. The sole of the dai is virtually flat with only a couple of thousandths of concavity and the cutting edge is predominately straight along its edge with only a slight easing at the ears to allow for smooth transitions between cuts. I shoot for making full length passes that cut the full width of the blade, taking as light of a cut as I can, working progressively from one edge of the panel to the other. I keep the surface clear of shavings while checking for ridges left by prior cuts.
Planing with Hira Kanna – Part 2
Ideally the grain direction is consistent over the entire surface but this is rarely the case. Figured woods can be particularly deceiving as to the correct planing direction but this material by and large planed quite well. Only the top panel had to be turned around and partially planed from the opposite direction. At this point the Intereor surfaces were done and the the exterior was ready for final clean up after assembly.
The case construction consists of half blind dovetails where the sides meet the top. In this post I cover fabricating the dovetails in full detail with ample photos and discussion of the process from laying out to sawing, chiseling and final fitting.Jay Speetjens’ Two Pines Trading Co. specializes in Japanese hand tool instructional videos, classes and more.