Week 11 – Spoiler

Early in the project one of the instructors was looking at the top surface of the mock-up and said it might look pretty cool with a little spoiler on the back edge.  "What is a spoiler?", I asked and I got a response similar to the following.

A spoiler is a low lip that is sometimes put on the back edge.  It kinda swoops up and blends in with the rest of the edge banding.  The trick is to get it installed just a little bit proud and then use a custom scraper to bring it down to perfectly meet the top.  You don't want to blow it and be too low or gouge the surface with the scraper.  It's the top of the cabinet and everyone is looking at it.

I have never put a spoiler on a cabinet and a Google search for "cabinet spoiler" or any other combination just resulted in links to movie trailers.  But the description seemed enough to go on and why not add a thing that kinda swoops to the top of the cabinet that could ruin it.  Sounds like a great thing to try.

Last week I worked on getting the larger edgeband that wraps the front edge of the top and bottom attached.  This week I will be working on the other part of the edgebands at the rear of the cabinet.  The top and bottom of the cabinet both have separate edgebands that are attached to the rear of the cabinet.  The top has the spoiler edgeband that swoops up from the surface and the bottom has a flush edgeband.

The first step is to glue-up the parts in a bending form.  I decided to use the vacuum press again.  I was worried about the press being able to squeeze the straight laminate strips around the inside and outside of the curved form so I pre-bent the strips on a hot pipe.  Hot pipe bending is pretty much like it sounds.  You take a propane torch and blow it through a steel pipe and gently heat the wood to soften the lignum and slowly bend the wood around the pipe.  You can see in the photo below that the wood strips are pre-bent before they go into the vacuum press.

The glue-up for the spoiler edgeband went great.  The glue-up for the flush edgeband on the bottom of the cabinet did not go great.  The result was slightly twisted and I didn't want to straighten it by shaving off wood for fear of exposing a glue line on the final piece.  So I took a different approach the second time and bent it using a male/female bending form and clamps.

The next step in the process is to shape the spoiler before gluing it onto the top panel.  I routed a groove into the edge of the spoiler using a router bit shaped like a donut.  I haven't figured out what it is officially called yet, but I found it on the router bit rack and it seemed like it would do the job.  I built a point fence that would allow me to follow the profile  of the curved edge band and route the groove just below the top edge.  Later I used a spokeshave, carving knife, and sandpaper to give the spoiler it's near final shape.

The final step in the process is to fit and glue the edgebands onto the rear of the top and bottom panels.  I previously routed a slot in both the panels and the edgebands to make sure that the edgebands would have the proper vertical alignment as I proceeded with the fitting.  My goal is to make the edgeband precisely mate with the curves at the rear of the panel and the mitered edges of the edgebands that are already installed on the panels.  I start off with the edgebands being too long for the opening and slowly plane the ends to try and get the angle of the miter on the installed edgeband to match the angle of the miter on the edgeband I am trying to install.  It is a tricky and nervous operation to try and get the angles to match before I shave the edgeband too short and end up with a gap.

I slowly plane the ends of the edgeband, checking after each few plane strokes to make sure that miter still matches and adjusting the shooting board using blue tape and shims.  The angle keeps changing as I get closer because the profile of the edgeband keeps changing as I am able to clamp the edgeband closer and closer to the profile of the panel.

After a few setbacks, a stupid mistake, and a recovery involving some woodshavings and enough clamping force to potentially start a fusion reaction in the panel I was able to get both the top and bottom edgebands fitted and glued.  Not perfect, but certainly good enough.

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