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Best Fitment Over 2 Years


James Harrison

Fine Woodworking

Project Details

For this project I was tasked with assembling a kitchen, including an Island with a solid oak bench top and a waterfall end and oak veneer panelling as the main feature.

Making these timber items required a range of skills, some of which I was very familiar with and others involving skills I was stildeveloping.

From start to finish I had:

* Assembled and set up cabinetry in the work shop

* Manufactured a solid oak bench top with a waterfall end

* Manufactured oak veneer panelling

* Assisted with on-site installation


The process and challenges.

Cabinet assembly and set up is where I was most confident with this job, as it is what I have had the most experience with.

The majority of the kitchen was straight forward but where the challenge came in was with the solid oak breakfast bar and waterfall end plus the oak veneer back and side panels on the island – both took me out of my comfort zone!

I have had previous experience working with timber but crafting the solid oak top and waterfall end was something that really put me to the test!

Working with solid oak brings its own challenges, as it can have a tendency to bow, can come with defects like knots, pockets in the grain or splits that might not be seen till the timber is machined. It was my job to work out how much timber was needed by going off the plans given to me. Once I had my cutlist, I sorted the timber and chose the best boards, cut them oversize and dressed them. After choosing the best position for each board the next stage was biscuiting the sticks to keep alignment while laminating them together. Laminating was done in three parts. The bench was laminated in two halves to begin with; this then kept them at a width small enough to fit through the thicknesser once glued. Once the two halves had been redressed they were then glued together flush top and bottom with each other to give the full width of the bench. Titebond 50 was the glue used as it is a very hard setting aliphatic glue that would help add strength for a longer lasting product and is also easily cleaned up with water while it is still setting.

There were some challenges with laminating as there was a lot of surface area to apply glue with not a large window of time to get it all together before the glue begins to go off.

Mitres were then cut right at the point of the two parts that were separated. The mitres were joined together by using dominos to give the mitre strength and keep alignment, glue and clamps running down and along to hold the join while the glue dried. This glue up was also challenging as I hadn’t glued a mitre together on this scale before. It was important to constantly check that the waterfall end was kept at a right angle and that there were no gaps in the join as each clamp was put on and tightened. All that was left after this point was to dock the far end to the correct length and to cut a notch out of the outside edge where the front of the island side panel is. This was achieved by using a panel saw and chisels. There was some challenge in this as it was close to the end and one wrong mistake while cutting with the saw could result in ruining that part of the bench, so precision and care was needed to carry this out. The bench was then placed on top of the island panels and the final checks were made before giving the final sand in preparation to be sent for polishing along with the oak veneer.

The design called for a planked oak look with mitres to join the back and side panel, and also a mitred edge at the front of the side panel. To achieve this I ripped two end matched sheets of planked veneer boards to the right height for the cabinets. They also had to be correctly ripped in the right places to ensure that once I joined the mitred panels, the planked strips would line up exactly to give the panel a more consistent and authentic look to match the solid oak bench top. The extra effort and design that went into just these panels adds to the overall aesthetic of the island. To finish these I had to address where pieces of grain had come loose from the glue on the MDF. To fix this I cut slivers of oak veneer the same colour, then glued them in the empty spaces to make it look like there was no missing piece at all.

Once this was done the panels were given a final sand before being sent away for polishing.