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Sycamore Pantry


Sycamore Pantry

The best way to match solid wood and veneer is to make the veneer yourself.

By John English

Sometimes you just fall in love with a special kind of wood. For me, that wood is quartersawn sycamore, but I’ve never had a chance to build something big that would really show it off. When my wife and I needed a new pantry for our kitchen, we found that commercial units were way too expensive, not very well crafted and used boring wood. I volunteered to make it myself. Out of sycamore, of course.

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This pantry really shows off the distinctive figure of quartersawn sycamore. To make thick veneer from sycamore boards, re-saw the best pieces down the middle.

Click any image to view a larger version.

For the sides of the tall outer cabinets, glue the veneer to a plywood substrate, using curved cauls to distribute pressure. Run the panels through a planer to clean up the bandsawn surfaces.

Here’s one bookmatched panel, close up. When sycamore is quartersawn, you can clearly see its numerous ray cells scattered all over the surface. They give the wood an almost textured look.

The sides of the middle base cabinet are veneered, too, but not all the way across. Only a few inches of the sides project beyond the tall outer cabinets. Cut a wide rabbet to receive a 4-in. strip of veneer.

Glue the veneer onto the rabbet. This side is too wide to run through the planer after glue-up, so thickness-plane the veneer beforehand.

Pin-nail solid sycamore face frames to the cabinet sides. The center base unit’s face frame extends above the cabinet’s sides. This hides the front edge of a plywood subtop.

Build the door frames with extra-deep grooves so the solidwood panels can expand in summer. Place soft-sponge Space Balls in the grooves to prevent the panels from rattling around in winter.

Build the glass doors in the upper cabinet the same way as the paneled doors. To make the glass easy to install from the back, turn the grooves into rabbets with a router.

Hang the doors after the cabinets are installed, to make sure they’re perfectly level. Support the doors on a ledger strip to line them up.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker November 2007, issue #132.

November 2007, issue #132

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