Friday, March 20, 2015

When a Mockup is Useful

I meant to just slap the doors on and be done with this vitrine mockup.  Instead, construction of this piece continues to educate me.  The lesson:  there are better ways to ensure the doors are perfect.

One of the challenges with the design of this cabinet is the glass panel floats between the two doors.  At least it does the way I am building it.  This means the glass panel (which is dead square and can't easily be changed) fits only when the doors are hung dead-nuts-perfectly-square when hung.

These aren't.

I was hoping that the problems would be resolved when I tuned the hinges.  The problems have to do with the fact that I didn't check ANYTHING for square when constructing this.  I thought it would save a bit of time.

I was wrong.
Not sure if you can tell from this angle, but the doors are not in a straight plane with each other.
The bottom door, the way it is hung now, has the left side hanging down a bit from where it should be.  The rabbet I sunk in this door needs to be exactly even with the rabbet on the side, in order for the glass panel to fit and look right.  If this door is rotated a bit so the rabbet is flush, the bottom left part of the door sticks out past the cabinet an unacceptable amount.
This part of the door hangs down, the hinge side is right on.
This theoretically wouldn't be a problem, as these European pocket hinges allow for lots of adjustment after installation.  The deal breaker is that once they are sttraight on top, the bottom isn't straight.
For example, the top door.  The rabbet is adjusted perfectly, but you can see the door is not straight on the cabinet.  Pay no attention to the glob of paint that ran down the front and dried right in front of the camera lens!
I will fiddle with them a bit more, but I think I just need two new doors.  Lucky thing they are nailed together with the cheapest material I could find!

It sounds like an opportunity for a blog post on the strength of panels constructed with clinched nails!

My plan is to build the door panels a little oversize.  After I mount the door straight, I can then cut off the extras and sink the rabbet so it will fit the glass dead perfect.

The problem with this plan is that the cross battens on the door also serve to clamp the glass in place.
It turns out I really didn't have a good picture of how the door captures the glass panel.  This is the best I have.  Notice the right side, there is a rabbet on the large panel, and the battens go right to the top of the door.  The glass rests in the rabbet, and the battens just hold the glass.
I could try making the batten a little shorter, and attaching some kind of block to capture the glass, but you'll notice I cut some notches in the shelves on the front of the cabinet to house the battens (see the first photo).  This obviously isn't ideal, but I didn't realize I needed clearance for those battens until I was test mounting the doors.

So, I think the solution is to sink that rabbet with a plow plane.

Unless anyone else has a better idea, I'll probably get a chance to do this on Monday.


  1. I'm not quite sure if i got your point.
    But wouldn't it be better to set the glass into grooves instead of rabbets and leave the battens away.
    And if you think this won't be stable enough to have some side rails?

    1. Hi Stefan, thanks for the comment.

      I think I was not very clear in explaining the problem. Essentially, the doors are not square with the cabinets.

      I did initially consider setting the glass into a groove, but I liked the simplicity of the rabbet instead. Also, I thought that it would be easier to get the glass panels to meet when the doors closed this way. I think if it was set in a groove, the glass panel would be pulled away from the glass in the cabinet, leaving an unsightly gap. But, I am sure there should be a way to compensate for that.