Assembling the Case
Begin the final case assembly process with the center unit, capturing the three large web frames between the partitions. Clamp the assembly and make sure it’s square and true.
Even before the clamps are off the center unit, you can glue it to the bottom. Apply some clamps to draw the partitions tight to the bottom. I drove 2-1⁄2″-long screws through the bottom up into the partitions to pull the centers of the parts together.
Next, join one side assembly and web frame to the case, then the second. Slide the dust panels into place and glue the top frame dovetails into the leg sockets. Apply glue in the back-panel grooves and install the three back panels.
In keeping with the sideboard’s spare Shaker-like design, the doors are unembellished and have flat panels. The panels are made of solid wood, not plywood, so movement must be accommodated. The rails and stiles are joined with more groove-and-stub tenon joints.
Start by making the door frames. Rip and crosscut the rails and stiles to size. Cut the panel grooves, then the stub tenons on the rail ends. You want a snug press fit, not a fit that requires you to hammer the parts together. While the groove-and-stub tenon is generally acceptable for cabinet doors, I reinforced these joints with loose tenons fit into routed mortises.
Now make the panels. Plane your stock down to 1/2″ thick (perhaps a skosh less), and rip and crosscut the panels to size. Under-cut the edges of the inner faces as needed so the panels fit their frame grooves.
Before gluing up the doors, apply finish to the panels. The finish prevents glue from sticking to the panels, which could restrict wood movement. It also prevents unfinished wood from showing when the panels shrink.
Creating and Fitting Drawer Boxes
I built traditional drawers, with thin sides and backs and solid-wood bottoms fitted into slips. I used dovetails — half-blind in front, through at the back — although I routed them rather than hand-cutting them. (Tradition only goes so far!)
I wanted the drawers to fit their pockets like pistons in engine cylinders. To achieve that precision, I made the drawers one by one.
Fitting begins as you cut the individual parts. Methodically trim each part to very tightly fit one specific pocket in the case. Cut the joinery, including the drawer bottom groove in the front (but not the sides). Assemble the box, ensuring it’s square and sits flat.
Tweak the fit next. Hand-plane or sand the edges of the drawer — both top and bottom — and the faces of the sides just enough to ensure a good fit. Like that piston, it must fit without wiggling or binding.