The meeting last Wednesday had several new faces and there were small discussions going on around the shop before the main event. Once we started, the new faces introduced themselves and gave a little bit of background about what they did and what interested them enough to show up for the meeting. As Jamie mentioned, this was our seventeenth meeting and we've had a core group of 15-20 folks that have shown up consistently. I know I'm not talking just about myself here but the very nature of wood working is pretty solitary unless you're in some sort of commercial shop. The solitude of it is what appeals to me (and probably many of you) but it's good to get out and mingle with others -- that's what makes the Sin City Woodworkers such an interesting group!
So on to the main event of the evening. Larry Yule gave a demonstration on making cabinet boxes using the European, frameless style. As he pointed out, that system evolved after WW II to replace everything that had been destroyed.
Standardization was the key and the system is based on 32mm. Larry used a biscuit joiner which most of the members were familiar with but obviously not every one was. In a nutshell, this machine cuts a elliptical slot (half a football) in the two pieces you want to join. This can be face to face, face to edge, or edge to edge. The biscuit is a piece of compressed beech that expands when the glue wets it -- that gives you the joint. Once glue is applied you can either clamp, screw, or nail the joint together and basically you're done.
If you research it or talk to any number of woodworkers you'll find a range of opinions about the strength and merits of a biscuit joint over any others like mortise and tenon, doweled, pocket screw, domino, and on and on. Essentially, the biscuit joiner is a pretty simple and forgiving way to assemble cabinets, face frames, and picture frames; like any other tool it has its' place in your shop.
Larry started out by showing how he attaches the nailing strip to the cabinet back. He unintentionally demonstrated how it's best to mark which surface needs to be slotted but, with his skills and experience, also showed how to rectify that little mishap!
Next was laying out and cutting slots needed to put the sides together. With European style cabinets there isn't a face frame so that wasn't a consideration. Eliminating the face frame results in less time to make the cabinet and also lets you utilize more of your wall for cabinet space.
Ever seen House Hunters International when they're in Europe?, the kitchens are tiny! A new technique to some of you was how he laid out the biscuits on the cabinet components. He used what's called a "Story Stick". Instead of using a tape measure to make the same measurements he simply laid the required measurements out on the stick and transferred them to each component. Easier, quicker, and eliminates errors.
Assembly couldn't be easier, having a willing helper, a special glue applicator, a mallet, and lots of clamps is essential.
There's a lot of glue that needs to be applied and clamped and with the heat we're experiencing now speed is of essence. In a couple of months from now Larry will demonstrate how to make a face frame cabinet -- that'll cover the two main ways cabinet boxes are constructed. I'm sure we all gained some knowledge from Larry, as usual he invited other members of the group to come up and get some hands on experience using the joiner -- great job Larry!
I'm going to end this blog the same way I seem to end all of them -- come on guys, show us what you do and share your techniques with the rest of the group. It isn't an easy thing to do but once you get into it it's pretty rewarding. Plans for our next meeting include a computer demonstration on using Google SketchUp for drawing your project plans as well as applying composition ornaments to your work. These haven't been finalized yet so if you feel the urge to share your knowledge let Jamie know.