The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking

The Fine Art of CabinetmakingJames Krenov, The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking, Linden Publishing, 2007

Ask yourself: How fine a piece am I making, what soft of person am I hoping will want it? Will he or she notice the difference – and care? And finally: do I care? The answer should be yes. So be consistent. Do nice work all the way; front, back, bottom, and sides. Everything on a level which feels right. It’s as simple as that: one who has pride wants to keep it.

If we really care what we make, regardless of the price tag, we could not find a piece in a showroom with two doors unaligned, legs unleveled, dovetails broken, sawdust left in a drawer and bottom side of the bottom unsanded.


Laptop Desk

My daughter is a fan of computer game. She has a somewhat bulky laptop and play on her bed. Contrary to the name, placing the laptop on top of her lap is not the ideal position. It is not stable on her lap and there is no room for a mouse.

The ideal dimension is determined as W25″ x D16″ x H10″. The top shall be a solid wood panel and no structure is allowed underneath the top not to interrupt her legs to stretch out. Four table legs shall be attached to four corners of the top and two base rails shall be used to hold the legs. For the top rails, there are two options to overcome cross construction. The one is bread board and the other is sliding dovetail. However, I decided not to use those constructions. For this size of table, I don’t need to worry about the cupping and load bearing. The only thing I have to consider is racking resistance. I can handle this with some clever joinery.

The rail-leg joinery is mitered box joint. It has a nice look miter on the side, and two box fingers provide enough glue surface. It is also self aligned, so a little bit easier than usual miter joint to glue up. The top-leg joinery is one-side-open through mortise and tenon. By using contrast colored wood, it provide a nice look with strong joint.

Laptop Desk - ExplodedLaptopDesk

Wood: Walnut & Hard Maple, Finish: Varnish Oil

Bedside Bench

One of the convenient furniture item in bedroom is a bench. When I try to change cloths or socks, sitting on mattress is a bit awkward.

There are variety of bedside bench designs, but the structure itself is quite simple. One piece of long board with four legs is enough to make one. Some of them have elongated legs above the seat to make armrest. Others have storage space underneath the seat that looks like a blanket chest.

The simplest design is the one with two gables instead of four legs. With mitre joints, we can make a clean look bench. To make this clean look, however, we have to overcome two structural problems: sagging and racking. If the thickness of the board is not enough, the seat shall be bent and the mitre joint probably not be strong enough to resist to racking.

One way to overcome those two problems, if we want to use relatively thin board, is to use a stretcher right underneath the seat. Locating in the middle of the seat, this stretcher is out of sight but provides enough strength to support sitter’s weight.


Wood: Ash & Walnut, Finish: Varnish Oil

Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible

Sophie Lovell, Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible, Phaidon Press Inc., 2011

By omitting the unnecessary, says Rams, the essential factors come to the fore: the products become ‘quiet, pleasing, comprehensible and long-lasting’. However to arrive at products with this quality the designer has to travel a very long and difficult path filled with question, trials, discussion and experimentation. The product may be simple but the path taken to create it is highly complex for the ‘true’ product designer.