As I wanted to practice woodworking frame-and-panel technique and my kid's bedroom needed a furniture I decided to design and build this sort of cabinet scaled down for kids.
It's a simple design and it is inspired from the famous Matthias Wandel's children's table.
I used some traditional joinery (mortise and tenon, dovetail).
It features tapered legs, 2 large 13"x55" shelves and a large 16"x59" top.
This build is quite accessible for weekend-woodworkers as I am. I used simple woodworking tools that most of us usually already have. For the tools I haven't I went to a profesional shop and borrow their tools ;)
All this to say: don't be afraid to start and make this!
To keep cost low I made the legs, frame and stiles out of pine solid wood, the panels and shelves out of 1/4" birch plywood and the top out of pine slats scavenged from an old bed frame.
- 9ft of 2"x2" for the legs
- 7ft of 1"x2" for the dividers
- 38ft of 1"x3" for the rails and stiles
- one 4'x8' sheet of 1/4" plywood for the panels and shelves
- a 16"x59" solid wood panel for the top (about 1" thick)
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Step 1: Cut the Legs
From the 2"x2" stock, cut the 4 legs to size (see Sketchup model) and taper the end of each legs on 2 consecutive sides.
Step 2: Cut the Stock for the Rails, Stiles and Dividers
- From the 1"x2" stock cut the 6 dividers to size
- From the 1"x3" stock cut to size:
- 8 front and back rails
- 2 back stiles
- 6 side rails
Step 3: Cut the Grooves an Tenons
For each required piece, cut the grooves for the panels on the rails, stiles.
Make sure the panel fits not too loose and not to snug either.
Cut the tenons to the same thickness as the groove width, on the rails and stiles.
Cut some tenons on the dividers.
Step 4: Slot Mortises and Holding Blocks
In order to hold the top firmly with the rest of the cabinet, keeping a bit of freedom for wood expansion, I used the technique from Matthias: mortises and blocks.
In this step, cut the slot mortises into the 4 top rails: 2 on each side rail and 6 on front and back rails.
Cut 16 holding blocks from scrap-wood.
Step 5: Cut Dovetail
To prevent the top front rail to separate from each side I used dovetail joints.
Cut a dovetail on each ends of the top-front rail. Cut dovetail slots on 2 of the legs, making sure you locate them on the correct tapered face.
Step 6: Cut the Grooves and Mortices on the Legs
The legs need the grooves as well since they also serve as stiles. The mortices are for the front rails.
Step 7: Cut Shelves and Panels
From the 1/4" plywood sheet cut the shelves and panels to the size. I used some painter's tape to prevent tearing since the plywood I used has a very thin birch veneer.
In order to achieve a beautiful result you might want to plan ahead:
- you want to have the grain in the same orientation for all the visible panels
- you want to have matching patterns, or continuous patterns between adjacent panels
From the shelves, cut the corners to allow the legs.
Step 8: Cut Rabbets for the Shelves
In order to hide the end-grain of the plywood I decided to cut rabbets on the holding rails.
Step 9: Dry Assembly
To adjust all the joints and make sure there will be no surprises during glue-up you want to do a dry assembly first.
Step 10: Apply Finish
It is easier to apply the finish before assembly, nevertheless make sure you protect the faces that will be glued or the glue won't stick.
I'm using clear polyurethane.
Step 11: Glue the Parts Together
This is time for glueing.
- glue the back first, making sure your panels are at the correct spot. I'm using a simple jig (a piece of MDF) to keep the alignment of the stiles.
- glue the front frame using the back as a reference
- glue the side rails and the dividers on top of the back
- glue the front frame to the rest
Step 12: Make the Top
I decided to recycle some boards I've got from an old bed's slats.
Since I'm just a weekend-woodworker I don't have all the heavy tools so I went to a profesional woodworking shop to plane and square the board, then I glued them together to form a panel.
Once the glue was dry, I cut the panel into 3 pieces that I then glue back together because the boards wasn't long enough. The width obtained by glueing the 3 pieces together was enough to cut the top from.
Then cut the top to size and round the 2 front corners. I routed all the edges but the 2 at the back.
Using a belt sander try to clean/even the joints.
A lot of fine sanding is necessary to prepare the surface before applying the finish.
I used dark stain and 3 coats of clear polyurethane to finish the top.
Step 13: Assemble to Top to the Cabinet
Having the top and cabinet upside down, locate the 2 pieces together and mark the place of the holes for the holding blocks.
Using the proper drill bit and stop, pre-drill the holes for the screws, then screw the holding blocks to the top.
Step 14: Put the Shelves
Put the cabinet back onto its feet.
Simply slide the shelves into their spot. Sometimes the plywood tend to curl a bit, you can use CI glue to hold it down where necessary.
Step 15: Conclusion
I am very proud of the result, it is exactly what I expected. I love how it looks and my kid enjoys it very much!
With the time, some of the mortice and tenon joints came apart a bit and if I had to make this piece of furniture again I would definitely change those joints.
I would also glue the plywood panels to the rails and stiles since plywood has almost no expansion (I learned that later), it might help reinforcing the assembly.
I hope this Ible will be useful for you.
Please don't hesitate to put your comments below!
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