Behind the scenes with Papilio’s cabinet makers

The complexity of a bespoke cabinet can sometimes be overlooked when observing the finished furniture. Behind the scenes there is a very different story. During the manufacturing an incredible amount of work and skill is put in and only a handful of the very finest cabinet makers can produce outstanding furniture.

In our recent project within the Cotswolds Manor house is no such exception. The entire kitchen and pantry made up of bespoke cabinets. I spoke with master cabinet maker Matt to find out what goes in to one of Papilios bespoke kitchens.

‘The cupboards in the main space are ‘In – frame’ and comprise of solid timber doors hung upon Solid brass butt hinges within a frame.
The doors are of traditional mortice & tenon construction with a lambs tongue moulding with solid raised & fielded centre panels. The frames again are traditionally jointed with a delicate cock bead detail.

The floor to ceiling fridge cabinet inner carcass has a solid timber lipping to ensure longevity and is finished in an exquisite American black walnut veneer. The end, side and drawer fronts constructed from a prime grade solid American black walnut (ABW) – again a traditional mortise and tenon construction. The Veneered centre panels are book matched.

We use veneered panels for stability and continuation of grain. Stability because the panel is thin if you machined solid timber to a thin profile it is likely to bend and warp with the high moisture content to be found in the kitchen. Continuity of grain beautifully by selecting book matched veneers – meaning thin layers cut from the same piece of timber and then placed as a reflection to each other. A mark of a quality piece of cabinetry.

The curved moulding in top corner and around the door of the fridge unit is called ‘radius detail’, to achieve the radius corners a diminished stile is used with a mason’s mitre. The mouldings that follow the radius are machined to a particular radius them hand carved.

The cornice section is solid ABW mitred and then machined on a curved template using a ring fence on a spindle moulder. The skirting section on the bottom is what we call a curved lamination, it’s made in 0.6mm ABW veneer, that’s laminated in a vacuum bag on a forma and then machined on the ring fence.

Table again each leg hand turned, the stretcher bar has a wedged through mortice and tenon – these small details showcasing the traditional methods still used in cabinet making today. The wedged made from English ash, with an ash knob for the table drawer as an accent timber.

Once worked everything is then carefully glued and braced. Any visible glue is washed off the pieces when dry followed by a thorough sand with 400 grit sandpaper. At this stage we have the piece as together as possible ready for the required finish.’

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