Byrdcliff Cabinet




Wood Selection, Milling Wood

Carcase Assembly

Frame and Panel Door

Sanding, Finish Application and Final Product




I first saw the Byrdcliffe cabinet in a Popular Woodworking article (February 2007) written by Christopher Schwarz.

The article described the build of the reproduction in creamy poplar.

See web version here.


The orginal cabinet by Zulma Steele had a darker stain.

Additionally, her door panel design was carved and painted.

Schwarz did his with a scroll saw.

As I read up on the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony and Zulma Steele, I realised that I had seen this cabinet before in CD-ROM that accompanied a Popular Woodworking book "Arts and Crafts Furniture Projects".


The digital version had an article by Schwarz that had in-depth info about the cabinet...

The drawing of the project had some issues but was usable.

The dimensions and joinery of the cabinet made by Schwarz is pretty much duplicated in my design.

I plan to add dowels at the lap joints to provide a little more structure.

I also plan to use a shaker style flat panel on the door.

My rear boards will be v-cut tongue and groove instead of beadboard.

I also checked out a reproduction by Joe McGlynn...part one, part two, and finished cabinet.

McGlynn's version was a nice Mission style rendition of the orginal...with a stained glass door.

My first Sketchup of my design...
Top view of my tongue and groove joinery with v-cuts...

Wood Selection, Milling



I purchased some 4/4 poplar stock from Larry at Heartwood in Star, MS.

Boards were ~8 inches wide and 8 feet long.

Coloration of the poplar ran from creamy whiet to light green to dark green. I will try to eliminate the darker wood and go with creamy and light green.

The creamy wood with straight grain will be used for the ends and shelves.
After jointing a face and an edge at the PM, we surfaced the other face with the planer, ripped to working stock and identified grain patterns for all of the pieces.
To crosscut and square the ends of all carcase elements we used a crosscut sled on the P66.
We used a sacrificial fence, with an outrigger and a clamp stop to make easily reproducible cuts.

Then we set up the Freud stack dado set to cut a 3/4" wide dado at 1/4" depth.

The crosscut was made with Incra mitre gauge with a sacrificial fence and stop.


These were made for the shelf grooves and the middle support grooves.
The end boards got a 1/4 x 3/4 rebate...cross cut these rebates with the Incra and a PM66 sacrificial fence.
Rip cuts for the rebates were indexed against the sacrificial fence.
End boards with grooves and rebates...
Top and bottom boards with grooves and rebates.

The 7 slats for the rear were ripped to 6 inches...this will result in a show of 5 3/4 inches and a tongue that will project 1/4 inch.

We used a Sommerfeld matched v-cut tongue and groove router bit set...

Routing the tongue plus a chamfer...on six slats.

Routing the groove plus a chamfer...on six slats.

Five of the slats have both a tongue side and a groove side.

Carcase Assembly

The inside surfaces of the carcase elements were sanded and finished with shellac prior to glue up.

James and I started the glue up with the shelf, with the board fitting into the two cross grooves.

This section was then clamped.

Then the bottom and top boards were glued and clamped...

The completed carcase frame...





Rear view of the carcase frame with the rebates...


After the rear slats were sanded and had shellac on the show faces, they were dry fit into the rebates on the back edge of the carcase.

I used the thickness of rulers as a spacer...

I switched to washers as spacers...
Six slats go in as full units...the final slat will be about 1/2 the size of the others...after the dry fit I marked out the width of the final 1/2 slat...3 1/4 inches...

Ripped the board to that size and attempted to dry fit it...a skosh too wide...ripped off a 1/32 and it dropped in.





Taped off the dry-fit panels to maintain the spacing...
...and checked out the look on the show side.


Frame and Panel Door
Sanding, Finish Application, Final Product
Prior to carase assembly, the interior surfaces were sanded with Rotex 150mm with a grit progression of 120x-220x-400x.

I padded on three coats of made with BT&C Amber flakes and Everclear 190 proof alcohol.

Board locations that would be glued were taped off so that shellac would not affect the glue joint.

The slats got the same treatment protocols...3 grits sanding and 3 coast of shellac.



Return to Shop Index