Start with the SIDES


The four legs you see above are made from 8/4 hardwood. They are tied together front to back with equally thick rails. As you see, the legs and the rails have grooves that hold rabbeted hardwood panels securely in place. Legs are the foundation and often the cornerston­e of cabinet projects. So getting the details right on the legs will go a long way towards smooth sailing for the rest of the project.

LEG GEOGRAPHY. The front and back legs are mirror images of each other. Detail ‘a’ shows the

I routed the grooves at the router table. You don’t want the grooves to show at the bottom of the legs. And you don’t want to weaken the wall of the mortise for the upper rail. So you’ll have to make a plunge and stop the groove at both ends. The box at the bottom of the previous page shows you how to do this. Then you’ll need to square up the ends of the grooves. All of the mortises on both faces are done at the drill press, then squared up as well.

TAPER THE LEGS. The main drawing on the previous page shows the subtle tapers that are on the inside faces of the legs. Over at the table saw, a simple sled with cleats supporting the leg will make the tapers uniform on the legs. Follow this up with your plane or sandpaper to smooth the surface. Now you’re ready to tackle the rails and panels.


As you see in the drawing to the right, the rails that hold the panel in place, and bring the legs together, are thick, no-nonsense rails. The tenons in the upper rails are square and easy enough to do at the table saw.

The tenons on the lower rails start out the same, but notice in detail ‘c’ that they’re mitered. Since they’re adjacent to the tenons on the front and back lower rails this compromise allows the rails to fully seat in the mortise .

I cut the overall shape of the tenon in the same manner as I did on the upper rail. But, to make the miter, I clamped the rail in my vise at the workbench and trimmed the end with a hand saw.

When making cuts like this, I’ll switch up the choice of saws to use for the task. I’ve got a cabinet on the wall of my shop that houses a generous complement of hand saws. I chose my trusty Dozuki saw for this job. It’s a well-known member of the family of Japanese hand saws that are available. And it’s the most similar to a western backsaw.

There’s one thing left to do on the rails — the grooves for the side panels. You can rout those over at the router table. Then turn your attention to the panels.

PANELS ARE NEXT. The main drawing above reveals that the panels are glued up from two 3⁄8"-thick cherry pieces. I planed 1⁄2" material to thickness for the panels.

I used cauls and light clamping pressure to help keep the panels flat during the glueup.

But if they do have a curve to them when the clamps are removed, not to worry. After you cut the rabbets in the edges, and move on to assembling the sides, the grooves in the legs and rails will flatten the panel.

GLUE UP THE SIDES. Gluing up the sides calls into play the standard operating procedures. Check for any squeeze-out and clean it up with a warm, wet rag.

With that, you can set the cabinet sides out of the way and focus on making more rails, stretchers, and drawer guides. The mortise and tenons you’ve done here are a great warm-up for what’s on the next few pages.

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