Finishing the Chiffonier

My journey with the chiffonier has come to an end…

I rubbed out the shine will 0000 steel wool…no lubricant either. Then I gave it the once over with a tack rag.

To finish it up, I put on a good coat of butcher’s wax. I buffed out the wax to the sheen I wanted, then brought it inside for a photo shoot.

This one was fun. Learned some new things, and bought some new tools.

Now, onto the next project…








Chiffonier shellac

Time to put my chemistry to use…

I was aiming to mix up a 1 to 1 1/2 pound cut of shellac. What I ended up with, I am not exactly sure.

You see, I don’t measure…I don’t like to measure. I don’t even like to measure when I am building. I’d rather use dividers, a sector, and relative dimension. Otherwise, it gets too complicated for me.

Basically, I grabbed what looked to be about 1/4 lb of shellac. I have a 1 lb bag, so I eyeballed a 1/4 of the bag. Throw it in the mason jar like Emril…BAM! Pour in some alc like Emril…BAM! BAM! Shake it up and let it get happy! I have no idea what I got…somewhere bewteen 1 to 1 1/2 pound cut if I had to guess. Doesn’t matter.

I spent the rest of the night watching my new favorite show,”Falling Skies”, while shaking the shellac occasionally. Then I shook it while brushing my teeth. Then I gave it one last shake before going to bed.

The next morning, the shellac was still not dissolved…strange. So, before leaving for work, I shook it again. When I came home from work, it was still not dissolved…hmm.

Well, I couldn’t wait any longer…I needed to apply what I had. My solution was to pour off (decant) the dissolved portion into another jar. I tested this solution on a scrap block. Everything was flowing well, and I was happy with the drying time.

This is where I usually make any adjustments. Depending upon how the shellac is flowing and how quickly it is drying on that test scrap. Usually, I end up adding some alcohol to give me a longer drying time. I began coating the chiffonier and all was going well. However, about 30 minutes into it, the shellac really started evaporating quickly…so I stopped for the night.

Before the next application on the following night I added some alcohol…not sure how much, just poured some in. I also filled a second jar with alcohol to charge my brush. In the beginning, and occasionally as the brush started to build up shellac, I dipped the brush into the alcohol. These two adjustments allowed me to apply 3-4 coats in one evening.

After letting it sit for a couple of days, it looks really good. I like the color and the build of the finish. I think I will stop here. I would imagine it has about 5-6 total coats of shellac.

Right now it looks very shiny…but I will rub that out after a few more days of curing.


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Chiffonier hanging rod

This should complete the construction…

I decided to make my own hanger rod, including the anchors. In order to function properly, the rod is anchored to the back of the mirror. The back of the mirror was made to be easily removed should the mirror need replacing. That is how I arrived at the design of the anchors.

As you can see in the photo below, they are u-shaped blocks. This shape allows the rod to be removed, and therefore allows the mirror back to be removed.

These are long grain to long grain glue joints, so there are no fasteners, just glue. I had pre-finished the back of the raised panel to make sure I covered the entire panel. Well, glue doesn’t stick to shellac that good.

I had to removed some shellac before I could attach the anchor. After measuring, I marked off an area to remove some shellac…just enough for proper glue adhesion. I applied a small amount of alcohol and carefully wiped the area clean until I reached bare wood.

I applied the glue and some clamping pressure. Then I attached the other anchor to the back of the mirror panel.

I cut a 1″ cherry dowel to length and dropped into place.

Next I have to whip up some shellac…

– JR





Chiffonier trimming tenons & final smoothing

Nearly finished now…


After the success I had using my new flush cut saw on the pegs, I couldn’t wait to try it on the through tenons. I had quite a few of them to trim…sixteen to be exact. This would have taken a fair amount of time using a chisel or even a backsaw and chisel. The flush cut saw gets the tenon very close to flush, and it does it very quick.

Unfortunately, things did not go as well as they did with the pegs. I had some marks from the saw to clean up when I was done. I am still trying to figure out why. Perhaps it has to do with the angle I was approaching the cut. Perhaps it was the larger size of the tenons versus pegs. Perhaps I need to use this new saw a few more times to solve this mystery.

Now the marks from the saw were nothing to cry about. They were merely surface scratches, and I was planning on finishing everything up with the block plane anyways…I had some tear-out to tame. I cleaned all the faces up with a finely set, newly sharpened block plane. Then I turned my attention to the edges of the panels.

With block plane in hand, I worked all the edges of the panels. I worked a series of chamfers to smooth out any sharp edges…for those little hands who are intended to use the chiffonier. Next I worked over the feet.

I hoisted the chiffonier up on my bench and noticed a little rocking. I always have trouble figuring out which of the legs is the culprit. The last thing you want to do is get into a situation where you keep taking wood off of the wrong leg thinking you are making it better, when it is slowly getting worse.

Then I had an “Ah Ha!” moment. I took one of the legs that I suspected and slid it off the bench slightly. When I did this, the chiffonier stopped rocking. I then slid the offending leg slowly back toward the front of the bench until it stopped. I put a tick mark at that point on the leg. I flipped the chiffonier on its side and planed down the leg until I reached the tick mark. Sweet relief…it worked!

Before I went to bed for the night, I managed to bevel all four feet. This will help to prevent splitting the wood should the chiffonier be slid across the floor.

All that is pending now is a rod…

– JR





Chiffonier final assembly

It was a mad dash of excitement…

Even with the extended time of Titebond III, it was a little crazy getting this thing buttoned up. It has been a week of high temps and high humidity, which certainly didn’t help. I also had a fan running, which probably wasn’t the best idea.

In the end, everything went together as it should. I went through a couple of test runs, and made sure to lay out my clamps ahead of time. Then I took a bathroom break, got a big drink, and took a deep breath before I began the “clamp dance”, as I am calling it.

I waited about an hour before taking all the clamps off, then went to bed satisfied with the results.



Chiffonier mirror installation

I got to try out another new tool today…

It’s a gimlet. We’ll talk about that later.

First, I had to trim the 1/4″ cherry plywood panel to fit. I made sure to scribe all my cut lines and cut them with my fine tooth crosscut panel saw…chip-out on this thin ply is hard to tame unless you follow this regimen.

The mirror is installed inside a double rebate. I learned this from the wisdom of Robert Wearing and his book “The Essential Woodworker”. The mirror sits in the first rebate, then there is an air gap followed by the plywood panel which sits in the second rebate.

I trimmed the panel with the smoothing plane to sneak up on the perfect fit. Then I came upon a decision, which took me a fews days to decide.

I could not decide how to attach the plywood to the frame. I looked at everything from clips to screws. I finally decided on screws. I figured they would be the easiest yet strongest solution should the mirror ever break and needed replacement.

I wanted to go with brass screws with the cherry. Another decision…what size and how many? Another couple of days past.

I ended up with #6 5/8″ brass screws. I would set them 1/4″ in from the edge of the rebate, and there would be 12 of them.

Another decision. Seriously? How to drill for the brass screws? Another couple of days.

Enter my new tool, gimlets. This little tool has a lead screw head followed by what looks like a fluted drill bit. It’s a hand tool that you hold in your hand…no brace or drill. The gimlets are sized according to screw size so you can tailor them to your brass screws. Perfect. This would pre-cut the screw hole in the panel frame and drill through the ply at the same time. All preventing the brass screws from stripping.

I marked out where the screws should be with ruler and awl. Then, pre-cut and drilled with the gimlet. Then finally, drive the screw home with a spiral ratchet screwdriver…making sure to clock my screws of course.

Mirror done…Windex and all.

– JR








There’s a hole in my panel dear Liza


After I cut the curve on top of one of the panels, I saw a big gaping hole in the top. I took me a while to figure out exactly what happened. To my credit, it’s from work that I did cutting the grooves in the panel a few months ago. So basically, I forgot the mistake I had made.


Back when I made this mistake, I had accidentally plowed a groove deeper than I what was needed. Therefore when I cut the tenon for the mating rail, it didn’t fill the entire groove.

No biggie.

This fix is fairly straightforward. Cut a wedge to fit matching the grain pattern and trim to fit.


Look in’ good

– JR


Chiffonier final shaping

More practice shaping…

Just like the shelves, I started the process of shaping the panels with a template from Sketchup. I had to piece this one together out of four sheets of paper. It was a little tricky, but some blue painters tape came in handy.



I simply traced it on each panel, making sure to keep it square. From there it is just trying to stay on the pencil line with the bow saw…by the way, the repair on the bow saw handle is holding just fine.


The cut is a little rough as you can see in the photo. However, a little work with the rasp, spokeshave, and scraper smoothed everything out.


Next I have a repair to make.

– JR

Chiffonier Flushing Pegs – Veritas Flush-Cutting Saw


A package arrived today at the house…

It was my latest order from Lee Valley. I ordered a few items, but the one I needed most at this time was my new flush cut saw. The next step in the project was to trim down all those drawbored pegs. I ordered the saw with the teeth that cut on both sides, which turned out to be very useful, as I had to maneuver around a little bit…my rails are slightly higher than my stiles.

Anyways, this little saw is a dream to use. The teeth are set only on one side so there is no chance of cutting into the work-piece. As a result, the saw pulls to the other side, which is good for not marring your work. However, there is a little clean up after the cut…but it is minor.

I realized tonight that Veritas always seems to think of everything. For example, etched on the saw blade is ‘this side up’ for the dummies like me who might put the set side down and cut into the work-piece. There is also a depression on this side for your finger to sit as it pushes down on the saw.


Well, how does the saw cut?

The saw starts easily and cuts fast…really fast, while at the same time keeping a very clean and smooth cut. I made 24 cuts through these walnut pegs tonight in just a few minutes…and I am usually incredibly slow. At first I started the cut by holding my finger on my off hand down on the blade to keep it flat on the work-piece. After a few pegs, I just let the saw do the work.


It only took a quick paring with a chisel to get things perfectly flush. The remaining 23 of these look just as good.


I can’t wait to use this puppy later in the project when I trim some through tenons.

– JR

Chiffonier shelf shaping

I got to break out my new bow saw

The first thing I did was figure out how I was going to lay out the shape of the shelves. I thought about stencils and measurements, but then I came across another idea…templates. I remembered reading about printing templates from Sketchup. Sure enough, my memory had served me well…I blogged about it here.

This worked like a charm. In no time I had myself a nice set of templates that are perfectly proportioned to the rest of the chiffonier. Basically, if it looks good on the model, it will look good on the real thing too. So I went for it.

I did have to piece the template together with tape before tracing it out…as the paper I have is only 8 1/2 x 11. After marking it out with pencil, I moved on to the cutting.

Now, I wasn’t too careful with the marking and cutting…but that was for a reason. It doesn’t have to be perfect because the shelves aren’t right next to each other. They just have to be close enough for your eye to see they’re the same. This is a revelation I discovered that has changed my woodworking. It don’t need be perfect.

I was a little apprehensive about using my new bow saw. However, I knew this would be a great test. I had no idea how it would cut, as I had never even tried a test cut…just went for it. I left the blade in that came with the saw, which is supposed to be a middle of the road blade…not to course and not to fine.

Well, I found it to cut too slow and fine and the handle would spin in my hand. This would cause the blade to change direction too easily, making it hard to stay on track. I actually had a couple of brief thoughts about returning the saw. Then after cutting the first piece, I switched to the more aggressive blade that came with the saw. Big difference. I stayed on track easily and finished in half the time. The saw is a definite keeper…I just have to remember to select the right blade for the cut.

Naturally the cut needed some refining. The perfect tool for the job is the spokeshave. It just so happens I have a new Veritas spoke shave. I have been playing with it a bunch…what a fun tool…so I was pretty comfortable with it.


It didn’t take too long to clean up and shape the shelf pieces. There were a couple of tricky spots where the grain changed. A few light passes in the right direction, plus some skillful use of the chisel took care of it.


I must say, adding these curves totally change the piece. They have a huge affect on the overall look of the Chiffonier. It’s lighter, softer, and the lines seem to flow into each other.

I love me some curves.



I can’t wait to start shaping the side panels.

– JR