So this is the LATE, VERY LATE continuation of a gun display cabinet build. In Part 1, I laid out the initial cuts for the large pieces that make up the upper and lower cabinet boxes.  Here are the detail of putting the boxes together.

Initial S2S thickness, plane alternating surfaces to reach final desired thickness of 3/4″

The first step is to plane all the pieces to the same thickness. They are pretty uniform already, but there are still some minor warps and cups and planing will get some of that out. I bought 4/4 lumber – that means the lumber should be 1″ thick. But as you can see on the left, it was only ~0.82″ thick. That’s because what I got is called S2S, ‘surface 2 sides’, so it’s already been planed on the two surfaces; for S2S lumber, the final width must be >= 13/16 in. Since I wanted the final width to be 3/4″, I didn’t have a lot to play with to “grind it out” to borrow a phrase from Forged in Fire, so in the end there was still some warp, and more importantly some cupping. That makes edge joining a bit less clean and lining up top and bottom boxes a bit more challenging. But that’s what I get for using cheap wood.

1) line up your boards and mark biscuit locations 2) using alignment marks, make slots on each side 3) insert biscuits and glue, 4) clamp it up. PROFIT! Well it needs some finishing and cleanup first.

With everything planed down to 3/4″, it’s time to get the sides assembled. For the top box (where the long guns will live), since the boards I got are wide enough for the depth of the box, it’s simple – just cut each piece to length, accounting for the rabbet joinery  when cutting the top and bottom pieces. For the bottom box – display for handguns and cabinet for e.g. ammo etc storage – it’s a bit more complicated since I need to edge join two pieces for the full cabinet depth and also cut some angles for the display portion. Here, I choose to use biscuit joinery. With biscuit joinery, you just cut slots in the edges of the boards to join and insert pre-made (or you can make your own) ‘biscuits’ in the slots. With a careful selection of pieces and alignment, a generous application of glue, and some finish work, you can make strong, nearly invisible, joints. To ‘tighten’ up the joints, I used some wood glue and saw dust mixed together to fill in gaps in the joint. The sides get a lot of sanding and, since there will be the ‘angled’ display, an angled cut, to make the final sides.

Tighten up the edge joints, cut the angles, nice freaking cup there on the right, eh? That will end up making the whole piece slightly mis-aligned, but I’ll hopefully be the only one to notice. It will fester and taunt me, causing sleepless nights.

Top left to bottom right: Gluing up the edge ‘banding’ on the plywood shelves. Close up of the joint. Close up of the angled cut on the trimmed up top shelf, and all 3 shelves (middle, bottom, top) trimmed to final size.

For the bottom, I also need to build 3 ‘shelves’. One for the bottom, one for the middle (which will, together with the bottom, form the storage cabinet), and one for the top that will merge into the angled cuts on the sides and support the top cabinet box. Of the 3 shelves, given the wood I have in my hand, two (top and bottom) will be from plywood and the middle from edge joined poplar (using biscuits, just as described above for the sides of the bottom box). The top ‘shelf’ will be almost entirely covered by the upper cabinet, so doesn’t need to be ‘pretty’, similarly for the bottom shelf, it will be mostly concealed. The middle shelf, on the other hand, will be visible since it’s for display and will have a glass door – that’s why I used ‘real’ lumber there. Of course for the top and bottom plywood shelves, the edge will be exposed, so I needed a way to ‘cover’ up the plywood. On can use glue-on edge banding, but I elected to take some hard wood in hand and make my own banding. I did that using specialty router bits to route a groove in the the plywood and a matching tongue in the hardwood to generate enough glue surface for a strong bond. Again with some sanding, the plywood and banding can merge almost seamlessly – less seamless here since I used some pieces of red oak I had left over for the edge ‘bands’. Once everything was glued up and solid, just trim the shelves to size, including a matching angle for the top shelf. Again account for the depth of any rabbets and dadoes when cutting the shelves to size so that we reach the correct final width of the box.

OK, so all the parts are together, now to put our wood into the boxes. The first step is to layout the rabbets and dadoes. For the top box, just need to make a rabbet on the side pieces with a depth of 1/2 the thickness and a width equal the thickness of the top and bottom pieces. In addition, need to make a rabbet to hold the 1/2″ plywood back. I’ll often use 1/4″ plywood for backs but given the large size and attachments for the barrel rest, I used 1/2″ here.

With the rabbets cut for the top cabinet….

… it’s time to glue up the top box

While the top box is relatively easy, we all know getting into the bottom box takes a bit more work. I need dadoes for the top and middle shelf, a rabbet for the top shelf, and the 1/2″ rabbet around the back for the plywood insert. So I lined up the back pieces to draw out the lines for the dadoes and make sure they line up. I used the router for all the cuts rather than the table saw dado blade, so it was a little more of a pain to get the width right so that the shelves fit snugly. I set up the fence for the first cut, but the shelves were a little too snug – better than too loose at this stage – so just tweak the fence over a fraction and shave a bit more off until one has a good fit. Do a dry fit, make sure it’s mostly square – it is mostly, but the cup means it’s a bit out – this will translate to the top not being perfectly symmetric on the bottom when I finally connect everything. With everything set up as best I can, do the glue up on the bottom.

Top left to bottom right: The layout for the rabbets and dadoes on the bottom side pieces. The dado cut setup. The dry fit, check for square. Then glue up.

That’s that for this installment. It’s looking OK, but still a lot of work to do. Next will be constructing the doors and the ancillary pieces – rifle butt and barrel rests, hinge selection, finishing work. Glass.  Hint – Don’t make the doors too thin. When you make the doors thin, it’s very tough to find easy hinges to use. I have most everything done already except the hinges and glass, so maybe it will be a smaller break between rev01 and rev02. Until next time.

Together at last! Well, not really, just resting together in a reasonable facsimile of what will be.