Building a Butternut Kitchen
Hand-planed hardwoods and high-grade plywood coupled with dowels and dovetails.
Synopsis: Rex Alexander, a Michigan cabinetmaker, describes a project in which he built kitchen cabinets from butternut for a house with dramatic views of the water. The article gives an overview of cabinet construction and includes a look at a simple, shop-made tenoning jig made by the author. A sidebar discusses the importance of calculating the seasonal movement of wood.
“Wood is vulnerable; it can be spoiled by a single wrong movement of the tool. It has its textures, luster, rhythms—but only the patient hand and seeing eye can coax these forth. Never inert, wood has a will of its own, the seasonal breathing of which can split rock and burst walls.” —James Krenov, in A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook.
When I first read A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook, I was deeply inspired by James Krenov’s words of wisdom, not to mention his refined woodworking techniques. Since then, I’ve studied all of…