For many years we’ve had our TV hanging on a wall in our living room. It was a practical solution, but it has long bothered me, always a bit of an eyesore. A big blemish of technology saying to any and all “look at me, I’m the most important being here”.
I had considered moving the TV to another room, making a wall cabinet, even hanging a picture over it. But in the end, not being an absolute monarch in my family home meant that most of my suggestions were never going to receive assent.
In addition to the TV, we also have an Xbox with its plethora of controllers and headphones which end up littering the couch arms. I would frequently cringe when a visitor got confused between a coaster and a gaming console when looking for somewhere to place their drink. It too needed something.
After many ideas and mental plans I settled on a simple box, which would hold the speaker bar beneath the TV, and offer some storage too. The hope was that by spanning the entire length of the wall, it would draw some of the focus away form the TV, and add some much needed warmth to that view.
And so it was off to the races. I had a lot of 120 mm x 35 mm construction Tasmanian Oak which I could use for the main structure. The plan, was to make the main carcass with proud dovetails on the corners, with the narrower dividers (produced by re-sawing the 35 mm stock in half(ish) ), holding firm with proud tenons protruding by a couple of millimetres top and bottom. The three boxes on the right would have sliders behind which the mess could be contained.
A pleasant benefit of having my outfeed table on wheels is that when needing to break down big stock, I can just separate my table saw and outfeed table a little, and I have a nice gap to cut between.
I quickly ran into an unexpected close-call. My dovetail saw doesn’t have a very deep cut, and only just, by standing on its tip toes was able to cut the tails in my end pieces. Phew! Other than that, they were not unlike most other tails, just thick. I did stop and touch up my saw which helped it along somewhat. In hindsight, I think my poor saw was probably just getting its tiny teeth clogged with so much material.
Onto the pins. Hmmmm, normally I would hang the stock vertically in my vise, but at 2.7 m long, that was never going to be practical. I did consider clamping the stock to an upstairs balcony, but dignity wouldn’t allow my to do something which I assumed would just look ridiculous. In the end I clamped the board at an angle in my vise, kneeled on a stool and, sore knees and muscles be dammed, got on with it. It worked surprisingly well.
I really didn’t fancy chopping out the pins, as there wasn’t enough room on my bench, so would have needed to do it on a less than solid surface instead. I recall hearing Frank Klausz talking about using a trim router to clear the waste in a hurry, so thought this was as good an opportunity as any to see how it worked for me. Other than ridiculously messy (I have no dust extraction at my bench), it worked surprisingly well with a spiral bit.
Now that the dovetails were cut, it was time to chop the mortices through which the divider’s tenons would protrude. The plan called for two mortices for each divider per side, at 13 mm square. I really don’t mind chopping mortices, and find that they go fairly quickly. This however was really time consuming, as the square didn’t allow me much length to get to depth. I started by drilling out the centre of each mortice with a 7 mm bit, then using my 12 mm mortice chisel, expanding to size. Square holes really weren’t that simple a task. In the end I managed it, but how a hollow chisel morticer would have made the job easier.
The final part of the case was routing the channels in which the sliding doors would run. I can assure you that I double and triple checked that I was routing the correct face and side before starting each one. To much work had gone into it to make a silly mistake at this point.
Time for the glue-up. It always impresses me no end when things go together as planned. I did need a degree of clamp gymnastics to pull the two ends in however, as I certainly don’t have any 3 m clamps lying around. But the glue-up was a success and the cabinet was done.
The final stage was to make the sliding doors. I decided that I would do a frame with kumiko panels, which wouldn’t totally hide the contents, but rather just obscure it a little. I had already done several kakuasa-no-ha patterned panels for other projects, so decided to try something new with this one.
Well, one new sled, two new angle shaving jigs, 429 individually cut and shaped pieces of wood later (not counting the failures and discarded tests), I was finally done. One would think the monotony would drive one mad, however I would get into a rhythm, and knock out sixty to eighty pieces in a go. Shaping the different angles on the edges of the tiny pieces with a chisel was actually rather therapeutic.
The only worrying part for me was making the lattice frame. Each strip could have as many as thirty cuts, and I find that repetitive use of the table saw is the most dangerous because of the ease with which one goes into auto pilot. Much like the newly introduced minimum pit stop time in Formula 1, I forced myself to go slowly and do a mental check after each cut. Even then, I still added some tactile stops on the rails of my sled, so that I would feel myself getting too close to the blade. I still have ten fingers, ten toes and one nose, so must have been successful.
Everything was sealed with several coats of shellac and finished with wax. It is hung and I am really pleased with the result, and best of all, so is the rest of my family.
Hang on, where is a boat hanging on the wall you ask? Well, the door frames are Tasmanian Oak, with our favourite Radiata Pine for the light coloured timber. The dark wood? I have no idea. But it’s more special then the rest. We made some wonderful friends with a couple who were refitting their yacht in Tasmania during the national travel restrictions. They used our workshop for their wood work and repaid us with many a laugh and great conversation. They have long since continued their travels, but in cleaning up several months ago, I found an old piece of timber they had pulled out of their boat, left on a shelf where they kept their timber stash and templates. And so it is that Mirrool (or part of her) now hangs on our wall, reminding us daily of distant friends.