I'm making a file cabinet case by dovetailing together the four sides
which are going to be made of beautiful quarter sawn cherry. I
thought I might make the top and bottom thicker than the sides, but it
turns out I don't have enough thick wood to make the top and the
bottom both thicker. I can make just the top thick, but I can't
decide if that would look good or if it would look funny. It's
fairly common for the top of a case to be thicker---often it's got a
whole second layer of wood making it visually twice as thick. But
that's not the same as doing a one piece top that's thicker. (If a
thin top is better I'll have to plane the thick wood down so that it's
thin and all the wood is the same thickness)
The "thin" wood is 0.84 in thick. The thick wood is 1.1" thick, and
the file cabinet will have 3 drawers and stand about 40" tall. I'm
planning to put 2 inch feet underneath the box to raise it a bit off
Draw it to scale to visualize it -- if necessary, mock it up w/
inexpensive material before committing w/ the real material.
OTOMH, doesn't sound bad but would depend on proportions of the
unspecified other dimensions.
Draw your project to scale and see what it looks like.
Basically it is a design decision that only you can make. That said, I don't
know that I'd waste piece of figured cherry on the bottom of any casework,
but that's just me.
If you decide to go thinner on the top, you can always bevel the edges of
the top slightly, from the bottom, to give it an appearance of being
thinner, without having to plane it down.
If you want the top to look thicker, you can bevel the top edge down
These are design tricks/methods that work, but whose subtlety depends upon
the amount of up or down bevel ... sorry about the picture quality.
Strictly FWIW ...
I had already tried making a scale drawing by computer, but it didn't
seem to be helping. It also seemed to really minimize the size
compared to how the wood looked when I actually laid out some wood in
my shop and looked at it. I guess I can make an actual size drawing
Well, it doesn't seem like a good idea to switch woods for the bottom
different woods would expand and contract differently, but I certainly
with the sentiment. Some of the quarter sawn cherry has more of those
tiny knots and I think it's not as pretty, so I figured that would be
for the bottom.
Actually these techniques won't work very well with dovetailed
because the top doesn't overhang the sides. I could bevel the top
that produces an effect that I find kind of odd looking, and agressive
of the (hand cut) dovetails could be bad if I happen to have undercut
My main concern was that the thicker top with the thinner bottom would
unbalanced and that it might make the dovetails look funny from the
the top and bottom would have different length tails.
That can help; so can the inexpensive wood/cardboard model trial. Don't
need primo workmanship to see the general feeling.
Not significantly enough to matter unless you were to use something
completely incompatible. There are many examples of contrasting woods
w/ glue joints, etc., that don't fail. Consider how much walnut/maple,
etc., there is, for example.
And, of course, one could use "plain" cherry instead of the figured for
If the figure is truly outstanding, I'd even consider strongly not
wasting full inch material for structure but resaw it into veneers to
make use of a relatively precious resource.
Well, it would take me for ever to make a wood model, but maybe I can
do cardboard if I can figure out a way to cut it accurately enough to
the difference between 1.1 inches and .84 inches.
The cherry is quarter sawn, not figured. I mean, some of it has the
fleck pattern that you can get when you quarter saw. Some of it is
plain, straight grained. There are some grain reversals in some of
boards (often associated with the small knots) that a generous person
might describe as a slight curl figure, but I wouldn't call it
decided to use quarter sawn both because of appearance and stability,
but if I mixed quarter sawn with plain sawn I think I could get a
big stress at the joint because the quarter sawn wood will expand and
contract 2-3 times less in width than plain sawn wood.
(Actually I do have two boards that I set aside that have what looks
birdseyes. I've never heard of birdseye cherry, but it seems like it
look kind of funny juxtaposed with the normal looking stuff and it
own smaller project.)
Typically you can make a thinner top "look" thicker by how you address the
perimeter of the top. If you use a "top" profile router bit to shape the
perimeter of the top it usually looks thicker than it actually is.
If you choose to simply use more wood, make the top look thicker by adding a
molding under the perimeter of the top.
I'm looking at the metal file cabinet in my room here and it has about a
one inch pseudo top on it, and no bottom, the sides just go to the
floor. I would think what you want to do would look good, if not better
with a thicker top. Most furniture has thicker tops than bottoms. Much
furniture with thin tops generally have thicker edging around the top to
make it appear thicker. I say go for it.
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