the Carpentry Way: Mizuya (8)                                                          

Mizuya (8)

In the previous post in this series I detailed some of the hardware designs I had in progress. I believe that the jeweler who I have been in contact with has commenced making a sample piece of that hardware. I feel pretty good about the hardware designs for the sliding and hinged doors, however the drawer handles, I do suspect, will be subject to some revision(s) yet.

Speaking of revisions, several have been made with the cabinet itself. Last time I covered this topic, I had changed the cabinet framing to being mostly bubinga, with a smattering of rosewood. In recent weeks I have been working on the drawer partition, support, and guide components, and that has lead to a veritable cascade of framing changes, and concomitant slight changes in appearance.

In the earliest design phase, the back of the cabinet was looking like this:

Then, as the dimension and locations of the middle bank of drawers was established, and the decision made to move the cabinet side panels to the exterior, the side and back of the cabinet looked like this:

At the above two stages, I had designed a strongback of sorts to tie the middle of the cabinet together. With further drawer work on the drawer runners and partitions, I abandoned that idea.

In post 6, I showed the back of the cabinet with the strongback replaced by a frame and panel arrangement, and the principal framing now in bubinga:

Also note that the middle band of encircling timbers, which were to be connected on their corners with through-dovetails, are now revised, and will be twin tenoned and have a mitered external abutment. I made this change to move away from a glued connection and to slightly tone down the aesthetic.

A large portion of that design has, since the above drawing work, been revamped again. I realized that the separate band of frame and panel work behind the drawers was redundant. The backs of the cabinet, also of frame and panel construction, could be extended down to replace the middle band of panels behind the drawers. That would also open up the rear of the cabinet for easy access, and would make adjusting, tuning, or replacing the drawer runners a much simpler affair. Another problem with the above design is that the lower right back panel would likely require a glued-up panel construction, given its 31" width, especially if I wanted to keep the panels primarily vertical grain. I would rather avoid recourse to glue if I can help it. So, back to the drawing board, which for me is a keyboard and mouse.

Now the back of the cabinet is looking like this:

Obviously, there are now 6 cabinet backs, and the cabinet back frame members have been changed to bubinga instead of rosewood as they were previously.

Removing the back panels reveals the revised framing:

The framing has been modified along the line of logic of post and lintel timber construction. The vertical framing members which divide up the back of the cabinet are now stacked atop one another, rather than staggered, and an additional one has been added to the lower right side of the cabinet.

One thing that held me up for a while in the design was coming up with some framing arrangement which would provide improved resistance to shearing loads, which, given the potential weight of this cabinet when filled with chinaware would not be inconsiderable, I felt was an important factor to consider. After rejecting plywood shear panels, and exploring the use of oblique bracing elements, I settled upon the addition of a pair of horizontal nuki (Japanese-style penetrating ties) to the upper section of the cabinet. You can see their twin tenons sticking out of the main post at the right side of the cabinet. These nuki will stiffen the cabinet up considerably, and provide a solution for supporting the back of the uppermost shelf of the cabinet. As they say in Japan, 一石二鳥

Here's a look at the front - the only significant visual change being the frames of the large sliding doors, now in bubinga:

As you may have noticed, there are some new developments inside the cabinet as well. I have come up with a solution of interior shelving in the largest compartment which is somewhat akin to a kaidan-dansu, or stepped-chest:

The storage arrangement came about largely as a result of measuring what we had and sizing compartments accordingly. The cabinet's interior shelves step in as wall as up to the left, which makes it easier to access the items on the shelves, and I like the staggered reveal:

The lower left compartment will also have shelves, like just a pair of straight shelves on adjustable mounts.

A closer look at the interior 'staircase' - plates stack on the bottom, bowls in the middle, and the little cubby boxes are meant for tea mugs:

Another view, with one drawer open:

The drawer runners will be accessible from the back, as noted above, and will be readily removable and replaceable, not that this is likely to be required anytime soon given that they are made of lignum vitae, as are the drawer's slips:

I've gently rounded the edges of the drawers at either end, increasing the shadow lines around the sides of the opening:

I may yet bead the drawer fronts and round the drawer dividers, I'm not sure at this stage about how much molding and decoration to apply to this cabinet, given the vibrancy of the wood and general complexity.

Here's a final shot, a bird's eye view of the cabinet:

Another detail I'm mulling over at this time is whether or not to place some sort of entablature, like a crown molding, on the top of the cabinet. Some Japanese mizuya have small moldings on the top framing, nothing too elaborate mind you. I'm just not sure whether it adds much to the piece or not. Probably the thing to do will be to mock it up on the drawing and take a look.

All for today- thanks for swinging by on your journey. On to post 9

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