Sunday, March 9, 2008

Stickley Music Cabinet, Pt. 1

I've wanted to make this Stickley Music Cabinet ever since I ran across one at an Antique shop a few years ago. This piece is something that has no equivalent in today's world, it is designed for a time when making music was a daily form of entertainment. It is made specifically to hold sheet music. I like the size of the piece, tall and thin without seeming out of proportion, I like the slight curve on the top edge of the sides, and I like the simplicity of it along with the detail of the through mortises. I also like the solid door that will hide the clutter inside. If anyone is looking for a stereo cabinet for a component system this would be perfect. The original had at least ten adjustable shelves and a keyed lock. The cabinet is 20 inches wide, 16 inches deep, and 46 inches tall, I'm only going to make 4-5 shelves but they will be adjustable. What I'm going to use it for is to store board games and various things that clutter up my living room.
Not having plans for this but knowing the dimensions this cabinet is simple to make. It is a simple box with the top and bottom being joined to the sides with through tenons. There is a kick board at the bottom that appears to be inset by one half of an inch. The sides protrude from above the top a few inches and there is a back splash that rises one half of an inch above the sides. Not being able to find any pictures of the back I'm going to go with a shiplap back which would be period appropriate for this piece. I guess a plywood back would be fine too especially if you are making it as a stereo cabinet and need to cut a slot for ventilation and cords to run through.
The first thing I did was to make a template out of 1/2 inch MDF, I plan to cut the mortises with my plunge router so I layed out the slots to fit a 3/4 inch router bushing. After drilling the ends of the slots with a 3/4 inch forstner bit I use a jigsaw to cut out the rest and then clean it up with chisels and files. I cut the relief for the base on the bandsaw and clean it up on the oscillating spindle sander and with a sanding block. I don't really need the template to be full height so I make it only 24 inches tall, I'll route the bottom then move it for the top.
Choosing some nicely figured boards from my stock I cut them to rough length and square the sides, I glue them up making sure that each piece has one clear side. Once the glue has dried overnight I scrape off the excess glue then run them through the drum sander to flatten the panels. I then use the template to transfer areas to be removed to the boards for the sides, taking care to choose the best sides for the exterior, marking the inside and front.

Placing the side panel inside up I drill two counter sunk screw holes at the level of the bottom shelf. These screws will hold the template in place while the bottom shelf will hide the screw holes once the unit is assembled. Clamping the template/panel combination to my work table I easily route out the mortises taking it in a few passes with a 1/2 inch straight cutting bit.
With the template still attached I switched to another router with a 3/4 inch pattern cutting bit this is when having a couple of routers comes in really handy. I have a Porter-Cable 690 motor in my router table, a P-C laminate trimmer for light duty, and two Dewalt 618 combo kits that get the job done. I usually keep one of these setup for my dovetail jig and use the other for everything else but this method seemed the most efficient set-up for this project.
Flipping the panel around I again drill two counter-sunk screw holes on the midline of the top shelf. I use the pattern bit for the slight curve on the top front edge, then the same bushing guided set-up for the mortises. I then repeat these steps on the other panel. With all the routing done I use a 1/2 inch chisel to square up the mortises. The top and bottom shelves were glued up at the same time as the side panels, I cut these to size (16x20 3/4 inches) and sent them through the drum sander but I ran out of time today so I'll have to leave them for next weekend.
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
William Morris


Anonymous said...

12 March 2008


Regarding your choice of a shiplap back for this music cabinet:

I've seen a number of photos of bookcases of this fundamental design (and, as you will know, of Robert Lang's plan of No. 719) with a shiplap back, but since you've used a photo from Dalton's, you might want to check

from Dalton's "sold archive" for another photo of a (No. 70?) music cabinet that appears to have a frame and panel back.

Looking forward to how this project develops.


Phil Lang

Brad Ferguson said...

Thank you Phil,
I hadn't seen that picture and you are correct it does seem to have a panel back on it, thanks for the help.