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Using a 3/16-in. slot-cutting bit, rout grooves for splines in all the stiles and rails (Photo 2, Fig. A, Parts F1-F3 and S1-S4). All the grooves have the same offset, a 5/16-in. lip at the front and a 1/4-in. lip at the back (Fig. A, Detail 3). The front frame stiles (F1) and the front side frame stiles (S1) receive two slots.

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Showcase

Showcase

View your treasures from every angle.

by Luke Hartle

Download the PDF.

Any collection you want to display, from fish fossils to Baccarat crystal will look great inside this cabinet. It allows unobstructed viewing from the front because the doors are on the sides. The doors themselves are frameless glass to maximize the side views. Inside, the mirrored back presents views from still another perspective, and glass shelves allow the built-in lighting to filter throughout the cabinet.

This showcase features 12-in.-deep shelves, graceful proportions and slender stiles and rails that elegantly frame the display area. It’s built with spline joinery that’s both simple and strong. I made the crown molding with new dedicated router bits that do an impressive job. 

Glass is easily the most expensive component of this project—I spent about $625, including $40 to bevel the arched front panel. This piece and the side doors are tempered glass, for safety. The seven glass shelves aren’t tempered. The cabinet requires only 25 bd. ft. of 4/4 lumber, so I splurged on genuine mahogany. My total cost, including the hardware and lighting, was about $1000. 

Build The Frames

The cabinet’s basic structure consists of three frames joined together. The frames and the cabinet must all be square so the glass will fit.

1. Rip the boards for the frame stiles about 1/4-in. oversize in width (Photo 1). To prevent headaches when installing the glass it’s important for all the stiles to be straight and flat. Let these pieces sit overnight to stabilize.  Then joint and gang-plane them to final width. 

Photo 1: Start by cutting the stiles for the three frames that form the cabinet. Rip these pieces oversize in width. The extra width allows you to straighten pieces that develop a crook.

2.   Using a 3/16-in. slot-cutting bit, rout grooves for splines in all the stiles and rails (Photo 2, Fig. A, Parts F1-F3 and S1-S4). All the grooves have the same offset, a 5/16-in. lip at the front and a 1/4-in. lip at the back (Fig. A, Detail 3). The front frame stiles (F1) and the front side frame stiles (S1) receive two slots.  

Photo 2: Rout grooves for splines in the stiles and rails. Most of the stiles have more than one groove. All the grooves are routed from the same setting. 

3. Cut the arch on the front frame top rail (F2) and sand it smooth.

4.   Cut the splines (F4) by ripping pieces slightly oversize in thickness and then planing them to fit the grooves. 

5.   Assemble the front and side frames. After the glue is dry, trim flush any splines that protrude.  

6.   Rout rabbets in the frames for the glass (Photo 3 and Fig. A, Detail 3).  The rabbets go on the back of the front frame and on the front of the side frames. The spline grooves that you’ve routed automatically define the depths of all the rabbets.

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