Recently I was tasked with building a media console. It was going to be painted. Now, normally I don't paint furniture, it's just not my style, but the client wanted it painted. So, I said only if I get to build it the way that I want to build it, they said, "Of course." This is a story about that.
I started off by breaking down some roughs on eight-quarter poplar material for the legs. I cut a few pieces to rough length and started milling them four square.
First, a flat face on the jointer, then plane a parallel opposite face at the planer, joint and edge at the jointer. And with thick stock like this there can be some internal stress that can pinch a table saw blade, so I break them down to rough width at the bandsaw, rejoint the edge, and finally ripped the stock down to final dimension at the table saw.
In my table saw, I usually keep the Amana Prestige 10-inch 40 tooth alternating bevel general purpose blade.
It has an Electro-Blu Non-Stick coating that results in extended blade life. It's just a great all-around blade.
With the stock cut square, I could cut them all to the same length using a stop block at the miter saw. I knew I wanted this piece to sit up off the ground, so I laid out some tapered feet and headed back to the table saw.
For the tapers I used a tapering jig which made repeatable cuts pretty painless.
And with the tapers cut I could prep some more stock for the side panels of the console. Joint, plane, joint, rip, repeat. I found that for similar parts I can be efficient with my clamp usage and clamp both panels at the same time remembering not to add glue to the pieces I want to keep separate.
Now, poplar is relatively soft, so after the glue-up I needed to clean up the dents left from the clamps on the edges. A sharp smoothing plane makes quick work of it and while I was at it, I thought I'd do some surface prep on the faces of the panels too. It's very satisfying.
With the legs done and the panels dry and surfaced, I glued up each leg panel assembly, some pieces of quarter inch scrap act as spacers on the clamps to bring the panel inset from the legs just a bit.
With the side panels drying, I needed a way to connect the two sides. I pulled down some more poplar from the rack and started breaking it down and milling stretchers.
I wanted to use mortise and tenon joinery for the piece because of their strength, and even though this piece would be painted, I like my furniture to last. It would be easy to add fasteners or apron brackets or corner brackets or anything like that, but I'm traditional so mortise and tenon is the way to go for me.
I cut some scrap down to make a Jig, the jig consists of a piece of ply to act as an edge guide, a long piece the distance from the edge that I want my mortise, two spacer pieces, the width of the diameter of the router template bushing I was using, and another piece to sandwich it all together, all held together with CA glue.
To cut the mortises I used the Amana 3/8" Up-Cut spiral bit with the Spektra Extreme Tool Life coating, in conjunction with a router template bushing.
Now here is a great tip, lay down a piece of blue tape on your mortise piece, put another piece of blue tape on your jig, put CA glue on one piece and accelerator on the other to make an instant bond for your template.
Route the mortise out with shallow passes until you reach your final depth, then just peel off the tape when you're done. No muss, no fuss, it just works well.
With the mortises cut to their final depth, I trim my stretchers to length, taking into account the one-inch tenons on the ends. To cut the tenons I'm using my Amana Super Fine 8-inch Dado Set. This too has that Electro-Blu coating for extended blade life. With a sacrificial fence screwed to the miter gauge, I cut a zero-clearance kerf, so I know exactly where the blade is cutting. I like to cut my tenons to fit my mortises rather than the other way around.
With using a router to cut the mortises, you end up with a "square peg in a round hole" situation, so I round off the corners of the tenons with a chisel and sneak up to a snug fit on the cheeks of the tenon with a shoulder plane.
After I dry-fit the base assembly, I cut a small rabbet out of what will be the back to accept a back panel later.
Then it was time to glue it all together. I added glue to the mortises in one side panel and slid the tenons in, then I slid the other side panel onto the tenons on the other side. It was a little stressful getting all eight mortise and tenons fitting together at the same time, but once it was snugged together, the base set perfectly flat, which is a really great feeling.
With the base sitting in clamps, I got started on some doors. I grabbed some of the leftover leg stock and resawed it into quarter inch, quarter sawn pieces. Again, this piece will be painted, but the quarter sawn stack should stay really stable through humidity changes and resist warping.
Then I cleaned the pieces up at the planer. I wanted to add a little visual interest to these doors, so I decided to give them somewhat of a V groove panel. For this, I used an Amana Carbide Tipped 45-degree Chamfer Bit to add a small chamfer to the fronts of all the pieces that would become door panels. A small bead of glue along the edge and light clamping pressure to ensure the panels don't flex, makes a really nice panel.
Another quick tip, a plastic drinking straw makes an excellent tool for cleaning out squeeze-out in hard to reach places. After that I could prep some stock for the stiles and rails of the doors.
For the joinery on the doors, I'm using the Amana InStile & Rail Mission Style adjustable router bits set. This pair of door-making bits are adjustable so you can fine tune the size of the groove for your panel to sit in, which is really great, especially in this situation when I was making my own panel stock.
After cutting all the grooves in both the stiles and the rails, I swapped the bit for its counterpart to cut the tenons on the end of the rails to match the thickness of the panel stock. This makes for a rattle-free door.
A quick sanding of the panel, and it was time for door assembly. The panel floats in the groove on the inside of the door and glue is only applied to the ends of the rails and clamped.
This is what my doors look like.
On to the bottom shelf of the cabinet. On the inside of the bottom stretchers, I glued and screwed a cleat along the length. Then prepped more poplar giving it that same chamfer as the door panels and installing it with brad nails. The idea here was to allow for expansion and contraction instead of gluing the bottom shelf in.
Then with that, the base was ready for paint. I'm using a paint sprayer in a makeshift booth I set up in my shop. I used a Valspar product called Furniture Paint in Cable Knit Sweater.
It was time to start working on the top for the case. For the top I chose to use ash.
Like most processes in my shop, the routine for this was the same, rough cut to length, face joint planed, edge joint and rip.
I will say keeping your milling process machines in peak performance makes things like tabletop glue-ups pretty uneventful with tight seams.
More glue and clamps, and once that was dry, I added a 45-degree chamfer to the bottom edge of the top. For surface prep, a card scraper is the key here, especially in ash, which is pretty hard comparably. Then I applied three coats of a wiping varnish.
Since this was a media console, I wanted to address the media component factor. I made a quick design of what I like to call the surprised Martian and cut it out three times on a piece of quarter inch ply on the CNC to allow for ventilation as well as cord management.
While the robot was doing that work, I turned my attention to how I would attach the top. For this, I used what they call Z-Clips. I used a biscuit joiner to cut slot kerfs along the inside perimeter of the top, and these clips allow for expansion and contraction as the seasons change, so the top should never split.
I attached the back panel, then turned the cabinet around to install the hardware.
We decided on using barn door cabinet hardware, which was pretty self-explanatory to install.
With that, I could call this media console done.
Although, I wouldn't have thought of this piece on my own. I really liked how it turned out. It was a good exercise in operating outside my own design motif, and really paying attention to quality of detail outside of wood figure and characteristics. Really paying attention to shape and scale over grain continuity and figure.
So, there you have it. The media console complete with mortise and tenon joinery, barn door hardware and a solid ash top.
I think it turned out quite nice. Thanks for watching.