Box-on-Box Tansu Chest

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Box-on-Box Tansu Chest
Box-on-Box Tansu Chest
A modern take on a centuries-old design
Designer/Builder/Writer: Matthew Teague
T
his stack of modular cabinets (or boxes) filled with drawers and sliding doors draws inspiration
from tansu cabinets commonly found in peasant and artisan homes of 18th and 19th century Japan.
Though most originals are simple cabinets that served utilitarian ends,
they’ve come to be admired for their unique forms and joinery. This modern
version serves as a woodworker’s take on the Japanese tansu called Kaidandansu, or stair chest; in place of heavy iron corners, hinges, and hardware,
I’ve used all-wood joinery, as well as wood drawer slides and pulls.
My favorite part of this design is its flexibility—while the cabinets
seen here stack in a stair-step pattern, numerous other arrangements
are possible. I’ve also added a hardwood base to hold the
boxes off the floor and to add styling. While bases were
seldom used on the originals, it helps anchor the pieces
and pulls them together in one coherent design.
I selected walnut for the box frames and quartersawn
white oak plywood for the panels (sides, top, bottom, and
back). When buying materials, choose hardwood
plywood and hardwood drawer fronts that make
for a good grain and color match.
For the number of boxes shown
here, I used about
6 board feet of
quartersawn
white oak for the
drawer fronts. While
I like the contrast
of walnut against
the white oak, the
design works just
as well when built
from the same
wood .
Overall dimensions (as shown): 57"w ×151/2"d ×611/2"h
26 w o o d c r a f t m a g a z i n e Feb/Mar 2009
A
B
Mill the groove in two passes—with opposite faces
ROTATE the stock over and groove the bottoms of the
against the fence—to guarantee that it’s perfectly centered
on the stock.
door rails using the same table saw settings.
Start with the hardwood frames
1 JOINT AND PLANE hardwood stock for the box and
door frames to yield the number and type of boxes you wish
to make. (See Figure 1, and the Cutting Diagram and Cut
List on page 37 to determine your needs.) Though 4/4 stock
can be used, I resawed 8/4 flatsawn stock at the table saw
to yield stable quartersawn stock. Whichever you choose,
avoid boards with sapwood on both faces; if sapwood is
present on only one side, hide it on the insides of the boxes.
And be sure to joint and plane a little extra stock to use as
test pieces when cutting joinery. Because the five boxes are
modular stacking units, machine all of your frame stock to
identical thicknesses.
2 CUT THE FRAME STOCK to width at the table saw
referring to the Cut List. I used a magnetic featherboard to
keep the stock flush to the fence, producing rails and stiles of
consistent width.
opening photo: doug rowan
project photos: matthew teague
3
SQUARE UP ONE END of the box rails and stiles (a, b,
c, g, h) as well as one end of the parts for the door frames
(JJ, KK, NN). To ensure that all like parts are trimmed to
consistent length, clamp a stopblock in place on the miter
gauge extension. At this point, leave the rail stock for the door
frames about ½" longer than the finished measurements in the
Cut List.
4 MILL PERFECTLY CENTERED ¼" GROOVES ½" deep
on one edge of the frame stock using a table saw blade. Raise
the blade to ½" and align the fence ¼" away from the blade.
Cut one side of the groove on the inside edge of the rails, stiles,
and door frame parts. Without moving the fence, rotate the
stock around and take another pass with the opposite face
against the fence as shown in Photo A.
5 GROOVE THE DOOR RAILS (jj) on the opposite edge
as shown in Photo B. These grooves will receive the splines
(LL), allowing for the sliding doors to ride on the grooved
runners (K).
6 CUT STUB TENONS on all the rails (C) that make up the
box side, top, and bottom frames. To determine the rail length,
don’t rely solely or the measurements given in the Cut List.
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C
Cut the tenon shoulders on the rails using a single
blade with the fence set to the length of the tenon. Use a
miter gauge to guide the stock over the blade.
Consider putting your tape measure aside and using a scrap
piece as a story stick. Because all panels should be perfectly
square, gauge the length of rail stock by using a piece of scrap
stock that fits into the grooves on the front and rear stiles.
Start with the test stock a little long, then trim it to length
and until you achieve a perfect fit. As before, use a stopblock
clamped to the miter gauge extension to ensure that all rail
stock is cut to consistent length. Once satisfied, cut all the top,
side, and bottom frame rails to the same length.
7 NOW CUT THE TENON SHOULDERS on the test stock
using a single blade and the marked story stick. (See the
Joint Detail in Figure 1 for reference.) To achieve consistent
shoulders, I use the fence to establish the tenon length and the
miter gauge to guide each workpiece squarely over the blade.
After cutting a piece of test stock to confirm the setup, make
cuts on both the faces and edges of the rails. Make sure the
stock stays firmly against both the miter gauge and the fence
as you cut, as shown in Photo C.
8 ATTACH A TALL AUXILIARY FENCE to cut tenon cheeks
with the stock held vertically. With a tall fence clamped in
place, make a quick tenoning jig by simply screwing a guide
rail to one edge of a piece of square stock, making sure it
w o o d c r a f t m a g a z i n e 27
R
3/8"
x 1/2"
rabbet
P
C
S
T
Mitered
add holding block
V detail
Fig. 1 boxes
S exploded views
AA
C
C
1/ 2
1/2
x 1/4" rabbet
Mitered after
panel assembly
D
111/2"
x 1/4" rabbets
B
C
1/4" grooves
1/2" deep
131/4"
F
A
Mitered
E
F
C
131/4"
B
D
85/8"
O
Q
B
51/2"
D
D
C
A
R
A
3/8"
x 1/2"
rabbet
P
T
1/4"
C
Four drawer option
P
C
1/2"
A
B
F
23/8"
JOINT DETAIL
3/8 x 1/2"
rabbet
C
F
A
14"
A
F
85/8"
B
111/2"
D
121/4"
51/2"
Y
1/4" grooves
1/2" deep
11/4"
Mitered
C
S
Mitered
V
S
Filename: #27 WC Tan
R LeMoine
12-20
Mitered
Y
(Fig. 1) SMALL BOX
AA
1/2
x 1/4" rabbet
Mitered after
panel assembly
D
1/2"
A
grooves
1/2"
deep, centered
K
3/8"
1/4"
groove 1/4" deep
Mitered
5/16"
C
A
LL
26" for (DD)(II)
I
1/4"
28"
13/4"
111/2"
rabbet
1/ 2
B
C
111/2"
KK
F
DD
JJ
K
261/2"
131/4"
CC
FF
JJ
C
J
G
KK
MM
x 1/4" rabbets
271/4"
14"
H
I
EE
HH
G
51/2"
MM
T
251/2"
D
JJ
KK
CC
H
3/8 x 1/2"
9/16"
BB
C
C
1/4" grooves
1/2" deep
13/4"
1/4"
1/4"
K
B
F
C
Filename: #27 WC Tansu chest 4A
3/8 x 1/2"
R LeMoine
rabbet
12-20
T
D
C
LL
(Fig. 1) MEDIUM BOX
II
EE
T
28 w o o d c r a f t m a g a z i n e FF
HH
Feb/Mar 2009
G
111/2"
3/8
1/2"
x
rabbet
C
1/2"
1/4"
grooves
deep, centered
271/4"
C
G
261/2"
I
N
JJ
H
M
28"
H
L
251/2"
I
G
LL
JJ
K
111/2"
271/4"
G
LL
OO
T
H
111/2"
C
I
271/4"
I
H
K
253/4"
OO
JJ
M
JJ
111/2"
3
G
NN
NN
C
x 126
/2" /8"
rabbet
3/8
NN
T
C
261/2"
K
28"
L
C
271/4"
I
263/8"
C
G N
H
H
3/8
x 1/2"
rabbet
1
11 /2"
C
NN
I
G
NN
JJ
T
H
NN
JJ
T
LL OO
I
K
C
G
253/4"
OO
28"
3/8
x 1/2"
rabbet
C
(Fig. 1) LARGE BOX
JJ
JJ
LL
Fig. 3 DRAWER EXPLODED VIEW
1/4"
groove 1/4" deep
1/4"
1/4"
dado
deep
1/4" from end
1/4" x 13/4" slot
1/4" deep
31/8" for (S)
61/8" for (AA)(FF)
1/4"
P
x 1/4" rabbets
1/4"
11/8" hole
3/8" deep,
centered
O
5/8"
1/2"
1/4"
3/4"
dado
deep
from end
113/4" for (Q)(W)(Z)
26 " for (DD)(II)
Filename: #27 WC Tansu chest 6
R LeMoine
Q
12-20
113/4" for (R)
26" for (EE)
R
21/2" for (Q)
17/8" for (W)
43/4" for (Z)
5" for (II)
53/4" for (DD)
3/4"
11Filename:
#27 WC Tansu
R LeMoine
12-20
P
S
13/4"
T
123/8" for (S)(AA)
261/2" for (FF)
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113/4" for (O)(U)(X)
26" for (BB)(DD)(GG)
31/8" for (P)
23/8" for (V)
chest53/68"" for (Y)
51/2"" for (HH)
61/4" for (CC)
123/4" for all
drawer sides
w o o d c r a f t m a g a z i n e 29
D
E
Register a shop-made tenoning jig against a tall
fence to cut the tenon cheeks. As you align the cut, make
sure the small offcut falls to the outside of the blade.
Attach a stop on the panel-cutting sled’s fence, and
holds the stock perpendicular to the saw table as shown in
Photo D. Make a test cut on scrap stock, creeping up on
the cut. Check your progress by dry-fitting the stub tenon
in a grooved stile. Alternately, you could use a store-bought
tenoning jig (Woodcraft #144755, $84.99). Aim for a snug
fit that can be put together with hand pressure only—any
tighter and you risk splitting the stiles.
plywood at the center of each panel. You’ll waste a little
plywood, but the end result is worth making a few scraps.
Then, cut the needed number of panels (D, I) to width.
Prepare panels to fit the box frames
1 SET UP YOUR TABLE SAW FENCE to rip the plywood
panels to width. Because the panel width should match
the length of the rails (including tenons), use a piece of the
rail stock to set the fence. If you work in a small shop or
alone, consider having your supplier—your home center or
lumberyard—rough-cut plywood to size for free or a small
fee. It’s worth the few extra bucks to avoid wrestling large
sheets across the saw. To achieve a book-matched look on the
exposed faces of the panels (especially those most visible—
the front door panels, for example) I align the seam of the
then batch-cut all identically sized frame panels before
moving to the next size .
2 BUILD A PANEL-CUTTING SLED like the one shown
in Figure 2. Or, go with a miter gauge and long extension
instead. In either case, you’ll need an accurate method for
cutting panels square and to length. If you do build the panel
cutting sled, it will come in handy later when you cut the
miters on the assembled box frames.
3 PLACE THE PANEL-CUTTING SLED on the saw and
crosscut the panels to length plus ½". Hold the panels firmly
against the front fence as you pass the stock across the blade.
To determine the exact length of the panels, dry-fit the
frames and measure the depth to the bottom of the grooves
on the top and bottom rails. As you did when determining
the rail length, use scrap stock as a story stick. Then cut the
box-frame panels to finished size, as shown in Photo E,
using a stopblock. You can also cut the door panels, but leave
them about 1" oversize for now.
BUILD A PRECISION PANEL CUTTER
To make the sled, mill a piece of hardwood stock to fit snugly
Fig. 2 panel-cutting sled
in the miter slot and serve as a runner (or buy an aftermarket
miter slot guide like the Kreg Jig and Fixture Bar, 30",
3/4x2x36"
26"
#145830, $23.99). Then cut a piece of ½" plywood for the
front fence
base. The sled I use is 26×36", as shown. The exact size
1/2" plywood
1/4"
2
isn’t critical, though it shouldn’t be larger than you can
36"
manage comfortably. If you’re using a wood runner, align
the plywood so that it sits about an inch beyond the blade,
slide the runner into the miter slot, and screw through the
11/2x21/4x1315/16"
plywood to secure the runner. With the runner in place,
removeable end stop
2"
determine the exact cutline by raising the spinning blade
and cutting through the plywood. Attach a straight wood
Guide sized to
1
#8 x 1 /2" flathead
fit miter slot
fence to the outside front edge of the panel-cutting jig, as shown
wood screw
on table saw
in Figure 2, using a framing square to help align it perfectly square
3/4x25/16x161/2"
to the blade. Secure the fence in place with countersunk screws. Make
removeable guide fence
53/16"
helps lock workpiece in place
a test cut in scrap and check the results against a combination square; because
the fence isn’t glued in place, it’s easy to remove a screw and make adjustments
#8 x 1" flathead
wood screw
as necessary.
30 w o o d c r a f t m a g a z i n e Feb/Mar 2009
F
Rabbet the four inside edges of the plywood frame
panels with a portion of the dado head buried in a
sacrificial fence.
G
Add glue along the length of the groove in both stiles.
Then set the two rails in place on one of the stiles. Slide the
panel into place and install the last stile.
4 INSTALL A DADO BLADE in your table saw, attach a
sacrificial fence to the saw’s fence, and cut rabbets ½" wide
and ¼" deep on the inside faces of the panels. The rabbets
on the panels should equal the same measurements as the
rail’s stub tenons; use one of the rails to set the dado blade
height so that your panels match up with the frame grooves.
Adjust the fence so that its distance to the outside of the blade
matches the length of the stub tenons on the rails. Then, butt
the edge of the panel against the sacrificial fence, face down
on the table, and mill rabbets on all four edges, as shown in
Photo F. The panels should fit snug in the grooves, with the
rabbet tight against the inside edges of the frame.
tip alert
Assemble the frames and
miter their ends
H
Pull the edges of the frame assemblies tight against
the fences on the jig to ensure that they set up square. Note
that corner clamps are used to keep the frames flat.
1 DRY-FIT THE FRAMES AND PANELS to make sure all
joints close up snugly. Next, using the clamping jig, add glue
a light coat. I wipe on Waterlox and let it sit for five minutes
to the rail tenons and the
before wiping the panels dry. Finishing the outer sides of the
grooves on both the rails
A self-squaring clamping jig
assemblies would be wasted energy—you’d wind up sanding
ensures flat, square glue-ups.
and stiles and assemble
Make one from a piece of flat
it off.
the frames and panels on
sheet goods with square fences
the jig as shown in Photo
3 ANGLE YOUR TABLE SAW BLADE at exactly 45°, and testscrewed into place. For the one
G. (Because you’re using
in Photo H, I used melamine
cut a scrap panel to check the setting. Next, add a rear fence
stable plywood, you can
cut to 17×31" for the base.
with screws and stopblock to the panel-cutting sled to lock
(Glue can’t stick to a melamine
glue the panels in place to
the panel in place. You’ll need to screw down a stop at two
surface.) Then I screwed two
strengthen the assembly).
different locations—one for the short panels and another
clamping fences to the base
While the large panels have
for the long ones. Now, miter-cut each of the short panels as
edges at one corner, using a
to be
framing square to align them.
glued
create a tansu entertainment center for A flat-panel TV
up one at a time, the 14×14" panels can be
glued up in pairs using the jig. Position the
clamps so all of the joints close up and the
panels pull up flush against the jig’s fences
as shown in Photo H. If the corners rise
up off the bed of the jig, add clamps to
keep them flat.
2 PREFINISH THE INSIDE FACES of the
assemblies to make it easier to remove glue
squeeze-out at clamp-up. You only need
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w o o d c r a f t m a g a z i n e 31
I
J
Pass the frame assembly through the angled blade
using a panel-cutting sled with stops screwed to all three
sides to guarantee an accurate and safe cut.
Position the panels’ mitered edges point-to-point,
making sure they’re perfectly flush. Then add strapping
tape perpendicular to the joint.
4 LAY OUT THE FRAME AND PANEL GLUE-UPS and
decide which faces you want exposed, and which edges
you want oriented toward the front of the boxes. Mark the
position of each panel clearly. Next, mill rabbets for the box
backs (E, J, L) using a dado blade on your table saw.
Glue up the boxes
1
Place the mating frame-and-panel
assemblies for each box inside face down on a flat surface,
After applying glue, roll up the panels, closing up each
joint as you go. Once the end miters come together, add a
few more pieces of tape to firmly bond the final joint.
shown in Figure 1, guiding it past the blade as shown in
Photo I. After one end is mitered, rotate the panel around so
that the point of the miter abuts the end stop and miter the
other end. Using 2X stock or a double-thickness of plywood
as a stop prevents the mitered edge from riding up over the
top of the stop. Cut the short panels first, then place two
of them miter to miter on the sled to determine the stop
location for the long panels.
three boxes as A dining server
butting the outside corners
Use strapping tape instead of
of the mitered edges. Then
clamps whenever gluing up
tape the miters together at
mitered assemblies. It’s plenty
top, bottom, and center with
strong, and prevents joints from
lengths of strapping tape as
slipping out of place.
shown in Photo J. Three
lengths of strapping tape provide plenty of clamping power to
close up the joint. Because the bulk of the joint is long grain
to long grain—like the boards in a tabletop—splines are not
necessary.
tip alert
K
2 BRUSH A THIN COAT OF GLUE ONTO to the surfaces
of the mating miters. (Because the insides of each panel have
been pre-finished, the glue squeeze-out wipes off easily with
a damp cloth.) Then roll up the box as shown in Photo K,
making sure the tape stays in place. Once the end
pieces come together, add three pieces of tape to
tie the last corner together. Set the box on a flat
surface and check for square by measuring opposite
diagonals. If it is out of square, hand pressure is
usually enough to close up the long diagonal.
3 ADD BAND CLAMPS if necessary. In all but one
box, my boxes went together square using strapping
tape alone. In one case I used band clamps as shown
in Photo L to help close up an ornery joint. For
this reason it’s a good idea to keep a couple of band
clamps on hand.
32 w o o d c r a f t m a g a z i n e Feb/Mar 2009
L
M
Tame ornery joints with band clamps, applying only
Use A plywood spacer on both sides of the box to
moderate pressure to close the miter joints.
position the glides. Glue and screw them in place.
N
O
tEST the drawer sides in their drawer openings. Trim the
dry-fit and Test each individual drawer in its opening
sides as needed.
to make sure it fits before applying glue.
Build and install the drawers
or take two passes with a single blade. Test the groove width
against the ¼" plywood you’ll use for the drawer bottoms.
Note: Each box contains drawers of different sizes. The top
drawers in each box have wider sides, fronts, and backs than
the drawers below them to prevent them from drooping when
open. The lower drawers have narrower sides, fronts, and backs
to accommodate the glides.
tip alert
1 CUT THE DRAWER GLIDES (F) for the small and
medium boxes to the dimensions in the Cut List. Angle-cut
the ends and drill countersunk holes for the screws. Then glue
and screw the white
Use scrapwood spacers to locate
oak glides to the
and install drawer guides. By cutting
sides of the boxes as
the largest spacer first, you can trim
shown in Photo M.
it down incrementally to position the
To ensure that the
drawer glides below it.
each pair of glides is
perfectly aligned, position them using spacer blocks set to the
dimensions shown in Figure 1. If adding the optional shelf,
make and install the supports (M) now.
4 RAISE THE BLADE to cut the drawer backs (q, w, z, dd,
ii) to width. This cuts the drawer backs to the width of the
sides minus the grooves for the drawer bottoms.
5 CROSSCUT THE DRAWER BOX sides, fronts, and backs
to finished lengths, using the drawer box openings and Cut
List as guides.
6 CUT THE NEEDED DADOES AND RABBETS in the
drawer box sides and front where shown in Figure 3. Again,
you can set up a dado blade or take two passes using a single
blade. For strong drawer joints, make sure the dado is no
more than ¼" wide and ¼" deep.
7 DRY-ASSEMBLE THE DRAWER BOX sides, fronts,
and backs. Then set the dry-fit drawers into their openings
to make sure they slide snugly and smoothly, as shown in
Photo O. Determine the sizes of the drawer bottoms (R, EE)
and cut them to size.
2 RIP STOCK to size for all of the drawer boxes. Refer to the 8 GLUE AND CLAMP the drawer box parts together, with
dimensions in the Cut List and Figure 3 as a guide. Then fit
the drawer stock to each drawer opening as shown in Photo
N. Mark the parts for reference.
3 CUT GROOVES in the drawer sides and fronts to accept
the drawer bottoms, where shown in Figure 3. Use a dado set
www.WoodcraftMagazine.com
a self-squaring clamping jig like the one used to glue up the
frame-and-panel assemblies earlier. Four clamps are usually
sufficient. Once the front, back, and sides are assembled, slide
the ¼" plywood drawer bottom in place. Sizing the plywood
for a tight fit helps square the assembly.
w o o d c r a f t m a g a z i n e 33
Fig. 4
9 DETERMINE THE LENGTHS of the false drawer fronts by
marking them off the actual cases and then crosscut them to
finished lengths. To determine the widths of the false drawer
fronts (S, AA, FF), begin by ripping them a hair wider than
the dimensions in the Cut List. Then use double-faced tape
to temporarily affix the drawer fronts to the drawer boxes and
test the fit by sliding each drawer into its intended opening
in the tansu box. At the table saw, trim each drawer front for
a perfect fit with an even 1/32" reveal on all four sides. When
satisfied, drill pilot holes and screw the false fronts to the
drawer boxes. Number the false drawer fronts and remove
them. Then decide what type of pull you’d like to install. (See
“Pull Choices: One To Make, One To Buy” below.)
door exploded view
1/2"
JJ
1/4x 3/4x105/8"
spline
1/4" grooves
1/2" deep
JJ
LL
1/4x 3/4x105/8"
1/4" grooves
1/2" deep
spline
105/8"
1/4" grooves
1/2" deep
LL
JJ
1/2"
1/4"
1/4"
105/8"
1/4" grooves
1/2" deep
1/2 x 1/4"
rabbet
JJ
1/2"
KK
1/2 x 1/4" rabbet
91/8" for (MM)
5
10 /8" for (OO)
MM 1/2"
KK
Add simple sliding doors and runners
Note: I use a runner-and-spline approach for the tansu’s sliding
doors. I’ve streamlined the joinery process so that I cut all the
joinery for the splines and the runners when I cut the door
joinery. Like the boxes, the doors are made from ¾"-thick
hardwood and ½" plywood. The hardware-free runners and
splines are hardwood as well: in this case, walnut.
1 GATHER THE
91/8" for (MM)
105/8" for (OO) 5
10 /8"
1/4" grooves
1/2" deep
KK
105/8"
1/4" grooves
1/2" deep
113/4" for (KK)
253/4" for (NN)
113/4" for (KK)
253/4" for (NN)
JJ
13/4"
JJ
¾"-THICK 1¾"-WIDE STOCK for the
door rails (jj) and stiles (kk, nn) that you cut when you
milled the box hardwood. (See Figure 4 and the Cut List
for reference). This stock should have ¼" wide grooves ½"
deep to house the rabbeted panels (MM, OO). Note that
the stock for the rail parts has these same grooves milled on
both edges.
KK
MM
LL
13/4"
LL
2 CUT TENONS ON THE RAIL STOCK using the setup and
techniques described for the box hardwood frames earlier.
To do this, determine the overall length of the door before
marking out the tenon shoulders on the rail stock. The overall
Pull Choices: One to make, one to buy
The handles on the drawers and doors of these chests can be
made quickly with only a drill press, a chisel, and a few scraps
of hardwood. Or, if you want, buy stylish metal pulls and save
Filename: #27 WC Ta
time. Note the sample above right (Woodcraft #836143, $2.89
R LeMoine
Filename:
#27 WC Tansu
ea.) I used ebony for the pulls because it complements both
12-20
R LeMoine
the walnut door stiles and the white-oak drawer fronts. To
12-20
make pulls (T), mill ¼×5/8" strips of ebony and crosscut them
1
3
to 1¾" long. Next, bore a centered 1 /8× /8" deep hole on the
false drawer front or 3/16" deep along the outside door stiles
using a Forstner bit. (Take care when boring the door stile to
avoid drilling into the plywood panel.) For each pull, center the
ebony over the hole and parallel to the top edge of a drawer
front. (Center it parallel to the outside stile edge on the sliding doors). Use a marking knife to mark out the position of the
ebony pull and chisel out the mortise to the full depth of the hole as shown here (Inset Photo). Once the ebony fits tight in the
mortise, add a few drops of glue to hold it in place. Note that the inserted pull sits slightly proud of the door surface. On the
sliding (by-pass) doors, plane the ebony enough so that the rear door handle won’t interfere with the action of the front door.
34 w o o d c r a f t m a g a z i n e Feb/Mar 2009
width of each door should be about 1/16" wider than half the
width of the box interior. Use a length of scrap stock to test
the fit of the tenon in the groove. Aim for a snug fit that goes
together with only hand pressure.
3 RIP THE PANELS (MM, OO) to width on the table saw,
matching the length of the tenoned rail stock. Next, crosscut
the panels to length using a miter gauge and fence or the
panel-cutting sled shown in Figure 2. To determine the
length of each panel, dry-fit the door frame, measure the
distance between the two rails and add 7/8" for the rabbetted
edges of the panels that fit in the frame grooves.
4 CUT ½" RABBETS ¼" deep on the inside edges of the
panels to fit the frame grooves. Make test cuts on a scrap
plywood panel, aiming for a smooth fit in the grooves on the
door stock. Once satisfied, dry-fit the door assemblies.
5 GLUE AND CLAMP UP the door assemblies. Add glue
down the length of the grooves on the rails and stiles. Fit the
stub tenons of the rails into the groove on one of the stiles
and slide the panel into place. Consider using the squaring
jig discussed earlier and apply the clamps across the rails
and stiles. Ensure that the door stays flat and square in the
process, clamping it down to the jig if necessary.
6 RIP ¼"-THICK SPLINE STOCK (LL) from a ¾"-thick
board. Test-fit the stock in the outside door grooves, then
measure and cut the splines to length so that they fill the
grooves between the stiles. Spread glue down the length of the
grooves and fit the splines in place. If you have a good, tight
fit, there’s no need for clamping.
7 SIZE UP YOUR DOOR RUNNERS (K), then machine the
runner stock to width and thickness as profiled in FIGURE 1
with the medium box. Note that runners should be at least
as wide as the thickness of the two doors, plus ¼" to allow
for a slight sliding room between the doors and a slight inset
between the front of the doors and the front edge of the
runners. Because the door height is ¾" less than the box’s top
to bottom opening size, I planed the runners to 3/8" thick. After
milling the runners’ thickness, set them in the box with the
doors in place. You want about 1/8" of play between the doors
and the top of the box. (When the splines rest in the runner
grooves, this should give you a 1/16" gap at the top and bottom
edges of the doors.) This allows for enough sliding room.
Now, label and cut the runners to length so that they fit snugly
inside the medium and large boxes.
8 USING YOUR DADO SET and dimensions in FIGURE 1,
adjust your saw fence and cut the front grooves in the runners.
Note that the front face of the ¾"-thick front doors are inset
1/8" back from the front edge of the runners. Once cut, test to
make sure the spline fits in the groove easily with no slop.
Next, with the front door resting in the runner groove, hold
the rear door to the front door, using a credit card to space
them apart. Now, mark the location of the rear groove. As
before, adjust the fence and cut the rear grooves to width and
depth on the table saw.
www.WoodcraftMagazine.com
P
Test-fit the sliding-door system (the doors and runners)
into the box to determine if the splines need trimming
with a hand plane.
Install the doors into the boxes
1 SET THE DOOR SPLINES in the runners and dry-fit
the door system in the box openings as shown in Photo P,
holding the doors and runners together as one unit. Doing
this lets you know how much the splines need to be trimmed
as you plane off the edge of the splines, the height of the
overall assembly reduces. Start by planing the lower splines
so that you have a matching reveal (1/16") on both doors. Once
you’re satisfied with the reveal at the bottom of the doors,
trim the top splines in the same fashion. Aim for equal reveal
at both the bottom and top of the doors. Make sure that at
least 3/16" of the spline protrudes from the door rail into the
groove. If you reach 3/16"
splines and the doors
stack ’em high for a bedroom chest
still don’t fit in the
case, begin planing
the runners on the
ungrooved faces.
2 CHECK THE
EDGES of the doors
against the box sides.
With the sized doors
and runners clamped
in place in the box,
check to see that the
door edges close flush
to the sides. If they
need adjustment,
scribe a line off
the side of the box,
remove the doors
from the box, and
then plane for a flush
fit. Make a few passes
and then check your
progress by clamping
the assembly back in
the case.
w o o d c r a f t m a g a z i n e 35
Fig. 5
base exploded view
1/2 x 1/2"
1/8"
chamfer
rabbet
1 / x1 / "
78
TT
QQ
SS
Mitered
UU
131/2"
551/4""
PP
23/4"
13⁄8"
TT
143/4"
RR
RR
PP
PP
1/2 x 1/2"
511/2"
QQ
rabbet
PP
QQ
10"
3 BORE THE HOLES and mortise the slots for the pulls
used here (see the sidebar), or use purchased hardware.
10"
1/8"PP chamfers
23/4"
23/4"
5 CUT THE BOX BACKS (e, j, l) to fit in the rabbets and
nail them in place.
chamfers
23/4"
ADD GLUE TO THE BOTTOM FACE of the lower
runner (K) and the top face of the upper runner (or screw
the runners in place in case you need to remove them
later). Set the door splines in place in the grooves on the
runners and slide the whole assembly into the front of the
box, recessing the runners 1/8" from the box front edge using
a combination square. Then slide both doors to the center of
the box and clamp the ends of the runners in place. Attach
additional clamps along the length of the runners. If the
center of the runners are not flush, consider using brads with
a nail set to pin them flush. After applying a finish to the tansu
boxes, add a little paste wax in the runners for easy sliding.
51/4"
RR
23/4"
1/8"
4
1"
3
563/4"
SS
notches
⁄8" mortise
⁄4" deep
3
QQ
78
Mortise Detail
5 CUT THE ½" PLYWOOD BASE BOTTOM (UU) to length
3 4jigsaw the corner notches to allow you to set
and width. Then
the plywood in place.
2 / "
6 SET THE TWO LOWER CHEST BOXES in place on the
base, center them, and cut and install the trim pieces (ss, tt)
used to contain them. The trim consists of a strip of 1/4× 3/8"
walnut with a 45° chamfer on the outer top edge. Install the
trim using a small bead of glue and 1" brads.
7 CUT AND ADD the optional shelf (N) from quartersawn
white oak. (see the Cut List.) To interlock the stacking boxes,
cut and fit 3/8×10 3/8×10 3/8" plywood into the top and bottom
box recesses. Finish the project.
Build a base to hold the chests
1 CUT AND PLANE enough stock to make four feet that are
2¾" square. Chuck a chamfering bit in your table-mounted
router and adjust the fence to cut a 1/8" chamfer on all four
corners. Now crosscut the stock to make four base feet (PP)
at 5¼" long. Return to the router table and cut 1/8" chamfers
around the bottom edges and two adjacent outside top edges
where shown in Figure 5.
2 NEXT, CUT AND PLANE enough 1" stock for the base
aprons and crosscut the front and rear aprons (QQ), and side
aprons (RR) to size.
3 CUT A ½" RABBET ½" deep along the top inside edges
of the aprons to accept the plywood base (UU) using a dado
blade at your table saw.
4 MORTISE THE FEET (PP) where shown in Figure 5 and
cut the mating tenons on the aprons. I chose an alternative
form of joinery using Festool’s Domino Joiner and loose tenons
to build the base. Pocket-screw joinery is yet a third way to go.
Now glue up and clamp or screw the base parts together.
36 w o o d c r a f t m a g a z i n e About Our Builder/
Designer
Matthew Teague designs
and builds furniture from
his home shop in Nashville,
Tennessee, and he also
teaches woodworking. The
former managing editor of Fine
Woodworking magazine, he
is the author of Getting Started in Woodworking:
Projects for Your Shop. His writing also appears
in numerous publications including The Oxford
American,
Fine Homebuilding,
FineTansu
Woodworking,
Filename:
#27 WC
chest
Sports Afield,
and American Woodworker. When not
R LeMoine
writing, 12-20
building, teaching, or chasing after his twoyear-old daughter, Ava Jean, Teague and his wife,
Sarah, are busy renovating their 1950s home.
3
Feb/Mar 2009
Box-on-Box Tansu
Chest Cut List
Tansu Chest Cut
List Continued
Thickness
Width
Length
Qty.
Mat’l
/4"
3
/4"
3
/4"
1
/2"
1
/2"
1
/2"
13/4"
13/4"
13/4"
111/2"
131/4"
3
/4"
14"
14"
111/2"
111/2"
131/4"
121/4"
4
4
8
4
1
4 or 6
W
W
W
QWOP
WOP
QWO
/4"
3
/4"
3
/4"
3
/4"
3
/4"
1
/2"
1
/2"
1
/2"
3
/8"
1
/2"
13/4"
13/4"
13/4"
13/4"
13/4"
111/2"
111/2"
131/4"
13/4"
3
/4"
14"
14"
111/2"
28"
28"
251/2"
111/2"
271/4"
261/2"
121/4"
2
2
8
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
W
W
W
W
W
QWOP
QWOP
WOP
W
QWO
/4"
/4"
3
/4"
1
/2"
3
/8"
1
/2"
13/4"
13/4"
13/4"
111/2"
13/4"
271/4"
111/2"
28"
28"
251/2"
261/2"
271/4"
8
4
4
4
2
1
W
W
W
QWOP
W
WOP
Small box
A
B
C
D
E
F
3
X
Y
Z
(R)
AA
(T)
M
N
3
Rails
Front stiles
Rear stiles
Panels
Door runners
Back
Optional shelf supports
Optional shelf
3
3
/4"
111/2"
2
QWO
3
/2"
/4"
3
11 /4"
3
26 /8"
1
QWO
/2"
1
/2"
1
/2"
1
/4"
5
/8"
1
/4"
3 /8"
31/8"
21/2"
113/4"
33/8"
5
/8"
11 /4"
123/4"
113/4"
12"
123/8"
13/4"
1
2
1
1
1
1
P
P
P
Ply
QWO
E
/2"
/2"
1
/2"
1
/4"
5
/8"
1
/4"
23/8"
23/8"
17/8"
113/4"
31/8"
5
/8"
113/4"
12 3/4"
113/4"
12"
123/8"
13/4"
1
2
1
1
1
1
P
P
P
PLY
QWO
E
1
Front
Sides
Back
Bottom
False front
Drawer pull
3
1
Front
Sides
Back
Bottom
False front
Drawer pull
B
A
4/4"x8"x8'
Q
O
1
1
1
walnut
U
X
V
W 4
/4"x8"x8' walnut
AA
F
S
R
Y
3
oak
D
D
plywood
5/4"x8"x8'
QQ
C
ebony
4/4"x8"x8'
KK
1
2
1
1
1
1
P
P
P
PLY
QWO
E
/2"
/2"
1
/2"
1
/4"
5
/8"
1
/4"
61/4"
61/4"
53/4"
123/8"
61/4"
5
/8"
26"
123/4"
26"
26"
261/2"
13/4"
1
2
1
1
1
1
P
P
P
Ply
QWO
E
/2"
/2"
1
/2"
1
/4"
5
/8"
1
/4"
51/2"
51/2"
5"
123/8"
61/4"
5
/8"
26"
123/4"
26"
26"
261/2"
13/4"
1
2
1
1
1
1
P
P
P
PLY
QWO
E
/4"
/4"
1
/4"
1
/2"
1
/4"
13/4"
13/4"
3
/4"
105/8"
5
/8"
105/8"
113/4"
105/8"
91/8"
13/4"
2
2
2
1
1
W
W
W
QWOP
E
Rails
Stiles
Panel
Splines
Door pull
/4"
/4"
1
/2"
1
/4"
1
/4"
13/4"
13/4"
105/8"
3
/4"
5
/8"
105/8"
253/4"
231/4"
111/8"
13/4"
2
2
1
2
1
W
W
QWOP
W
E
Feet
Front & rear aprons
Side aprons
Front & back trim
Side trim
Bottom
23/4"
1"
1"
1
/4"
1
/4"
1
/2"
23/4"
23/4"
23/4"
3
/8"
3
/8"
131/2"
51/4"
511/2"
10"
563/4"
143/4"
551/4""
4
2
2
2
2
1
W
W
W
W
W
WOP
E
4/4"x7"x8'
BB
quartersawn
oak plywood
walnut
RR
C
1
1
1
Rails
Stiles
Splines
Panel
Door pull
3
3
Large door (for 1 door)
(JJ)
NN
OO
(LL)
(T)
3
3
Base
PP
QQ
RR
SS
TT
UU
W=Walnut; QWOP=Quartersawn White Oak Plywood; WOP=White Oak
Plywood; QWO=Quartersawn White Oak; P=Poplar; PLY=Plywood;
E=Ebony
Note: The overall width of the small boxes should equal one-half the overall
width of the medium and large box. The same is true with box heights.
GG
4/4"x7"x6'
G
K
H
JJ
JJ
LL
Cutting Diagram - Large
walnut
F
FF
1/2"x2'x4'
SS TT
1
Front
Sides
Back
Bottom
False front
Drawer pull
JJ
KK
LL
MM
(T)
walnut
KK
4/4"x4"x3'
4/4"x8"x5'
Cutting Diagram - Base
PP
A
D
D
PP
113/4"
123/4"
113/4"
12"
123/8"
13/4"
Cutting Diagram - Medium Box
Z
B
1/4"x1"x6"
R
PP
Y
T
R
1/4"x2'x4'
53/8"
53/8"
43/4"
121/2"
61/8"
5
/8"
1
Small door (for 1 door)
C
C
B
P
4/4"x7"x3'
/2"
/2"
1
/2"
1
/4"
5
/8"
1
/4"
1
Front
Sides
Back
Bottom
False front
Drawer pull
GG
HH
II
(EE)
(FF)
(T)
Cutting Diagram - Small Box
A
Mat’l
Medium box bottom drawer
Small box middle drawer
U
V
W
(R)
(S)
(T)
Qty.
Front
Sides
Back
Bottom
False front
Drawer Pull
BB
CC
DD
EE
FF
(T)
Small box top drawer
O
P
Q
R
S
T
Length
Medium box top drawer
Front vertical stiles
Rear vertical stiles
Rails
Front horizontal stiles
Rear horizontal stiles
Top & bottom panels
Small panels
Back
Door runners
Drawer glides
Large box
(C)
(G)
(H)
(I)
(K)
L
Width
Small box bottom drawer
Front stiles
Rear stiles
Rails
Small panels
Back
Drawer glides
Medium box
(A)
(B)
(C)
G
H
I
(D)
J
K
(F)
Thickness
C
FF
oak
CC
DD
CC
poplar
HH
K
poplar
1/4"x1"x12"
ebony
4/4"x6"x5'
quartersawn white oak
I
D
MM
I
EE
I
D
MM
I
J
M
walnut
EE
UU
LL
NN
4/4"x6"x6'
N
T
N
OO
L
OO
I
I
1/2"x4'x8'
white oak plywood
1/4"x4'x4'
plywood
1/2"x4'x4'
quartersawn
oak plywood
1/2"x4'x8'
JJ
walnut
NN
HH
T
II
H
G
C
4/4"x8"x8'
quartersawn oak plywood
1/4"x1"x6"
ebony