the Carpentry Way: BCM Tansu Repair (III)                                                          

BCM Tansu Repair (III)

Here's something new on my blog, as we near the 1000-post mark, namely hammer meets nail:

Hah! The above photo shows how the POC panels came out with the stain applied.

The trick I use to prevent any splitting of the board when driving in a nail so close to the end is to clip the head off of one on the nails and use it like a drill bit to pre-bore the nail holes in the board:

Some work remained on the second sliding door from this cabinet. It had a badly rounded outer arris on the tongue of the bottom rail, and that made the door not want to track cleanly. So, I rebated a chunk out  of the arris and prepared a piece of wenge as an infill:

The infill piece was glued and clamped, then later cleaned up by plane and a bit of stain applied:

The lower mizuya cabinet is more or less done, save for a reassembly of one of the doors. I need to bring some rice to the shop to use for glue, so that can wait until next time.

I set the lower mizuya-dansu aside and put the upper half of the heya-dansu on the sawhorses:

This is a wider and deeper cabinet than the other one, and unlike the mizuya-dansu, which is viewed on 3 faces, this piece sits within a closet and only the front face is exposed to view. Thus, where the maker took time to make the sides of the mizuya-dansu look presentable, with the heya-dansu only the front face received attention. The rest? Well, a little on the crude side, by any standard.

Cabinets like this remind me of buildings in a wild west town:

What you see on the front isn't what you find in the back. It's a stage set.

On the underside of the cabinet there is a stiffener added, presumably to support the floor boards mid-span. Curiously, the tenon shoulders are cut a wee bit back:

At first I was grinding my teeth thinking that they cared only about the appearance of a through tenon on the side and not making a sound joint - then I realized that you can't see the cabinet sides, so the reason for the joint to be configured in this manner is beyond me. The other end is similarly gapped. Every time I look at it I shake my head.

The bottom of the cabinet reveals the dabo, the floating keys used to align upper and lower cabinet to one another:

With the cabinet on its back, it was obvious that some of the nails holding the ceiling boards on had given up the ghost:

The shelf support pieces are affixed to the cabinet side walls with nails, which were simply driven right through and clenched:

The proportioning of the frame stiles to the rails does not seem to have been well considered in terms of depth - note the offset between stile and sill:

Same sort of thing where the stile meets the upper rail:

In a similar vein, the main frame rails at the rear of the cabinet are smaller sections than those on the front. Again, since the side of the cabinet is not normally viewed, the disparities in frame part sizes is concealed.

I noticed also that the inside of the right stile was dadoed to receive a tongue on outer stile of the sliding door:

That's a bit unusual, it seems to me.

The left stile, since it receives the rear-mounted sliding door, has but a little rebate to accept the door's outer stile tongue:

Anyway, that's a brief tour of this cabinet. Like the previous one, the main task was to renew the sliding tracks. With this cabinet, the tracks had remnants of track infill pieces, what are referred to as ume-gashi. They were trashed, but they were largely intact. I was able to extract these relatively easily with a chisel:

Ume-gashi are typically made from cherry, keyaki, karin, and, yes, plastic. They can be done as a housed insert, or as a sliding dovetail-shaped insert, however when done in the latter manner repair is more of a hassle if the sill cannot be readily removed for access. Ume-gashi is one term for this treatment; another is mizo-gashi; yet another is ki-suberi.

Once the two infill strips were out, I could see that a simple replacement of the strips was not a possibility as the divider in between was severely worn:

So, I routed it out:

That left a couple of remnants of the center divider at each end, soon to be removed by chisel:

Cleaning up the bottom afterwards:

I fabricated a wenge infill strip, fitted it to the sill, then glued and clamped it down:

 The result looked like it would work out well:

Another view:

If this is the original manufacturer's label, then the tansu was made in Kitayama (on the border between Mie and Nara Prefectures):

Here are the sliding doors. One is original and the other is more recently fabricated, probably on-site, when the building was installed into the Boston Children's Museum, and has a plexiglass panel fitted. Notice the ebony inserts which have been fitted to the lower tongue on the one door:

A closer look:

The inserts seem kinda cool as a repair at first glance, but after thinking about it for a few moments, you realize that placing a couple of hardwood inserts would only effect, at best, a temporary fix for a worn out rail tongue on a worn out track, and that the hardwood inserts themselves would tend to accelerate wear on the track (since they are harder than the track infill strips) from that point forward. There was very little left of the tongue on with door's lower rail, and I have simply jointed the edge flat in preparation for affixing a new piece on the bottom.

By fixing old tansu like these, I am learning things which will inform my own furniture designs, so I'm glad to have this opportunity. Wear and tear issues are going to arise with sliding doors in tracks, so what might be good solutions to that...hmm....

All for today, hope to see you again for the next update in this series. On to post IV.