Crafts­man-style Mag­a­zine Cab­i­net

A use­ful, beau­ti­ful thing.

Popular Woodworking - - Contents - BY JIM MCCON­NELL

A use­ful, beau­ti­ful thing.

In 1905, Gus­tav Stick­ley pub­lished plans for this mag­a­zine cab­i­net in The Crafts­man mag­a­zine as part of an on­go­ing home train­ing course in cab­i­net­work. He claims this to be a use­ful piece in any liv­ing room where loose pa­pers and mag­a­zines are apt to ac­cu­mu­late. Hav­ing built sev­eral now my­self, I couldn’t agree more. It’s the per­fect piece of fur­ni­ture to sit be­side a fa­vorite read­ing chair or to show­case a few trea­sures in the liv­ing room, and it is far more ca­pa­ble of wran­gling the stuff of ev­ery­day life than any end ta­ble or mag­a­zine rack I’ve ever had.

Al­most any wood will work. Oak is a clas­sic crafts­man choice, but maple or wal­nut would also look great. Stick­ley specif­i­cally sug­gests in his orig­i­nal plans that a soft­wood may be de­sir­able which prompted me to build a ver­sion of this piece a few years ago from home store pine. For this it­er­a­tion I chose ma­hogany with black­wood keys as a sub­tle nod to Greene and Greene fur­ni­ture—an­other branch of the arts and crafts tra­di­tion.

Just One Jig

Ev­ery cru­cial an­gle in this pro­ject is 3° off of 90° and to keep all of that straight, be­gin by mak­ing a sim­ple jig with two strips of 1/2" MDF and two scraps of 3/4" pine. Clamp the two pieces of pine to­gether. Mark and plane an iden­ti­cal 3° slope into the boards and then glue or screw them to the MDF strips leav­ing a 1" slot be­tween the strips for a router tem­plate bush­ing that can be used later to rout the shelf da­dos. You don’t want any play here, so use the guide to get this spac­ing right. Dou­ble check the an­gles with a bevel gauge dur­ing as­sem­bly. If you get this jig di­aled in, the rest of the build is easy.

Start with the Sides

Be­gin by pre­par­ing the stock for legs and rails. The legs are 2" x 1 1/4" x 44" long. If you are mor­tis­ing with a chisel, be sure to leave the legs over­long un­til the mor­tises are made to avoid end grain blowout. Choose leg stock care­fully, for straight grain and process it so that the grain runs di­ag­o­nally through the leg (bas­tard cut) to present

even grain on all four sides.

Take care that ev­ery­thing is flat, square, and prop­erly thick­nessed be­cause these eight pieces will pro­vide the struc­tural bones for the rest of the piece. It’s also never too early in this pro­ject to be­gin think­ing of com­po­nents in re­la­tion to their fi­nal ori­en­ta­tion, so ar­range the legs as they will be po­si­tioned in the fi­nal con­struc­tion (front, back, left and right) pay­ing at­ten­tion to grain, pat­tern and cha­toy­ance. Mark the four legs with a mar­riage mark. Lay the legs side by side and mark the top, bot­tom and mor­tise lo­ca­tions across all four pieces.

Mark and rout mor­tises in the legs with a plunge router and edge guide. Each of these mor­tises will be 11/4” deep, 3/8” wide and 4" long with the top mor­tise be­gin­ning 11/2" from the top of the leg and the lower mor­tise be­gin­ning 35" from the top of the leg. The mor­tises are cen­tered on the leg but, when rout­ing, be sure to ref­er­ence the guide on the same face (out­side or in­side) to elim­i­nate any dis­crep­ancy.

Mark the tenon lo­ca­tions from the bot­tom edge of the side rails start­ing 1" in from each end. Us­ing a square and a bevel gauge set to 87° carry the line around the rail with a mark­ing knife. The trape­zoidal shape of the rails should be clear. Mark the ends for a cen­tered 3/8" tenon. Us­ing a shal­low 1/2" pat­tern bit, line the rout­ing jig up with the base­lines of the tenons and clear the cheeks of the tenons with a router us­ing climb cuts un­til the fi­nal base­line pass. Flip the rails over and clear off the other cheek. Mark and saw 1/2" shoul­ders on the top and bot­tom of each tenon. These cuts will need to be an­gled in at 93° (from the top of the rail) and the end of the tenon an­gled to match the shoul­der so that the tenons seat in the mor­tises squarely at 90°. Round the edges of the tenons with a chisel or rasp to match the routed mor­tises. The re­sult­ing tenons should be roughly 3/8" x1" x4". Fit the tenons to the legs and make any

nec­es­sary ad­just­ments. Re­peat for the other side and dry fit all of the com­po­nents to make sure that both sides match and that both sides lay per­fectly flat on one an­other.

Pre­pare stock for balus­ters (7/8"x 7/8" x 30" over­long) and tape them to­gether with blue tape in groups of three. Us­ing a mark­ing knife and square, mark tenon shoul­ders around the three balus­ters 3/8" from the bot­tom. Clamp the rout­ing jig square across the base­line. Us­ing the same shal­low pat­tern bit, re­move 1/4" from the top and bot­tom of the balus­ter tenons. Place the tenons against the as­sem­bled side and mark for the top tenon. Re­peat the tenon rout­ing re­mov­ing any ma­te­rial in ex­cess of the 3/8" length needed for the tenon. Un-tape the legs, ro­tate each leg 90° and re-tape. Us­ing the jig and router again, re­move 1/8" from the shoul­ders. The re­sult­ing tenons should be 3/8" x 3/8" x 5/8". Round the ends of the tenons.

Clamp the two sets of rails to­gether so that the bot­toms of the top rails and the tops of the bot­tom rails are both fac­ing up (the out­sides are fac­ing one an­other). Then, mark the rails for mor­tises. The first mor­tise is cen­tered and the other two are lo­cated on 1 1/2" cen­ters on ei­ther side. Rout cen­tered 5/8" thick x 3/8" wide x 3/8" long mor­tises with a plunge router.

Mark mor­tises for the keyed tenons in the side rails. The mor­tises are 3" x 3/4" and cen­tered on the rails. Hog out waste on the drill press and clean up with a chisel. Be­cause this is a knock-down de­sign and all parts will be fin­ished be­fore fi­nal as­sem­bly, the keyed tenons on the top and bot­tom shelves should move freely, though not slop­pily, through the mor­tises in the rails. Keep a scrap the same thick­ness as the shelves handy for test­ing.

After the balus­ters are fit and the rail mor­tises are cleaned up, Dry fit the en­tire side as­sem­bly to spot any po­ten­tial ad­just­ments that need to be made be­fore glue-up. At this point the two sides should be iden­ti­cal. Dis­as­sem­ble and break all edges of the legs, rails and balus­ters with an apron plane.

Be­fore glue-up, lay out all parts in a log­i­cal or­der as they will go to­gether. Start with the balus­ters. Ap­ply glue to the balus­ter mor­tises and fit them be­tween the side rails. Ap­ply glue to the rail mor­tises and the cheeks of the tenons be­fore slid­ing the cen­tral as­sem­bly into the mor­tises in the leg. Add glue to the mor­tises in the sec­ond leg and slide it on top. Check for align­ment be­fore adding clamps. Mea­sure from the top rail to the bot­tom against both legs to as­sure they are par­al­lel, and make sure that tenon shoul­ders pull up tight. A long clamp across the top and bot­tom rail span­ning the length of the balus­ters keeps ev­ery­thing in place as fi­nal clamp­ing pres­sure is ap­plied. Glue up the other side in the same man­ner and set aside to dry.

Fool-proof An­gled Da­does

Once the glue has fully set, rout the da­does for the shelves. Each dado ends 7/8" in from the out­side edge of the front and back legs. The top and bot­tom dado are in line with the mor­tises for the keyed tenons. The bot­toms of the oth­ers are lo­cated 9", 17", and 25" above the top of the bot­tom mor­tise. The height of the shelves slowly in­creases to­ward the bot­tom, and though the dif­fer­ence may seem min­i­mal, these in­cre­men­tal changes in tan­dem with the wider base cre­ates a more vis­ually bal­anced piece.

Align the jig with the front leg and rout the shelf da­dos on the in­side of each side as­sem­bly. Square the ends of each dado with a chisel. The da­dos for the bot­tom and top shelf are about 3/16" deep and routed flush with the side rail. Set the router a hair shal­low and bring them to depth with a router plane or chisel. The other da­dos are 5/16" deep in the legs, just in­side the balus­ters. Use a sharp chisel to break all the dado edges so they don’t chip out when the shelves are in­serted and re­moved.

Slip in the Shelves

Plane the shelf ma­te­rial to 3/4" thick. Cut it to rough length (18" for the top and bot­tom, 13 1/4" for mid­dle shelves). Shoot both ends of the top and bot­tom shelves and one end of the mid­dle shelves (you will bring these to length later). Notch and fit the top and bot­tom shelves to the mor­tises in the rails. Clean up any saw marks on the tenons. With the top and bot­tom shelves fit­ted and clamped tight, use a mark­ing gauge to make a base­line for the key mor­tise. Dis­as­sem­ble and mark for the key mor­tises.

The mor­tises for the keys are 3/4" wide but they are also an­gled on the in­side of the outer wall cre­at­ing a mor­tise that an­gles in to­ward the sides. They are also off­set 1/16" in to­ward the rails so that the in­side of the key mor­tise sits in­side the rail mor­tise al­low­ing the keys to pull ev

ery­thing up tight. Hog out the waste with a Forstner bit and clean up the mor­tises with a chisel.

The keys are sim­ple wedges made to fit the mor­tises. Start with thicker keys (front to back) and plane them down so that when they are driven an equal amount of the key sits above and be­low the mor­tise. Shape the bot­tom and top any way you like. A round-over is ap­pro­pri­ate, but I rather fan­cied the band-sawn look on the African black­wood, so I broke the edges with an apron plane and left the tex­ture on the top and bot­tom. Per Stick­ley’s orig­i­nal in­struc­tions, don’t drive the keys so hard that it breaks out the end grain of the tenon. A few taps past fin­ger tight is suf­fi­cient.

Mea­sure the ex­act depth and length of the other shelves from the da­dos and trim them to fit. The end grain will be vis­i­ble, so shoot or sand the grain to a fin­ished state.

The rout­ing jig comes in handy one last time. Clamp the guide firmly to the posts and use a hand­saw to trim the tops and bot­toms of the posts to length and par­al­lel with the floor. Trim one side and then use that to mark the other. Cham­fer the edges and clean up the saw marks with a sharp block plane.

Do any nec­es­sary fine-tun­ing and break all the outer edges with a block plane. Go over all the sur­faces again with 220 sand­pa­per and ap­ply fin­ish. There’s no rea­son to strive for a mir­ror film fin­ish here. I sug­gest a var­nish or oil fin­ish that will wear well if you in­tend to dis­as­sem­ble and re­assem­ble the piece. Tung oil or Dan­ish oil built up over sev­eral coats is a won­der­ful choice.

And that’s it! Find a place for this mag­a­zine cab­i­net in your house where life is apt to ac­cu­mu­late and then get on with liv­ing.

James Mccon­nell is a writer, pho­tog­ra­pher and hand-tool en­thu­si­ast based in North Carolina.

1 First, make a jig. All of the cru­cial an­gles in this build are 3° off of 90°. I used scraps of pine and MDF to make the jig. Get this jig di­aled in per­fectly, and the rest of the build is much eas­ier.

2 I'm us­ing a router for most of the mor­tises. I use a 3/8" straight bit with a fence to cut the long mor­tises in the legs.

5 Dry fit the parts for the sides of the mag­a­zine cab­i­net. The goal is to have two per­fectly iden­ti­cal sides.

4 Then, cut your tenons to fit the mor­tises. You'll need to round the ends of the tenons to fit the mor­tises – a chisel makes quick work of it.

3 Mark out the an­gled tenons. Then, use a router and your jig to hog out the waste for the tenons

6 Use the fit­ted sides of the mag­a­zine stand to mark the tenon shoul­ders on your balus­ters.

7 A straight edge from your jig on the tenon shoul­der line, and use a 1/2" pat­tern bit to re­move 1/4" of ma­te­rial from two sides of the tenon.

8-9 Ro­tate the balus­ters and re­move the rest of the waste. Then knock off the corners with a chisel to fit the rounded mor­tises in the rails.

11-12 With all of the mor­tises cut for the cab­i­net sides, add glue and as­sem­ble, start­ing with the balus­ters.

10 The mor­tises for the balus­ters are routed in pairs (one top rail and one bot­tom rail).

Arts & Crafts Mag­a­zine Cab­i­net

13 Cut the tenons for the top and bot­tom shelves, then make your mor­tise. Drill out the bulk of the waste, then square the mor­tise with a chisel.

14 Use the router jig, spaced to fit the thick­ness of the shelves, to rout the stopped da­does for the five shelves.

15 Square up the ends of each stopped dado with a chisel.

19 Do a dry fit with the top and bot­tom shelves and make fi­nal mea­sure­ments so you can cut the rest of the shelves to size.

18 A router plane helps clean up and fine-tune the depth of the stopped da­does.

17 Use a chisel to square up the stopped da­does for the shelves.

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