Frame & Panel Construction
Any timber, regardless of the final finish that is applied, will be affected by changes in the moisture content of the air. As the timber comes into equilibrium with the surrounding air it will expand in humid conditions and shrink in hot, dry conditions. Even in an air conditioned home the moisture levels can vary greatly throughout the year. A failure to allow for this movement of the timber can result in twisting, cracking and even the failure of glue joints as cabinet work literally pulls itself apart.
Frame and Panel construction is designed to reduce the impact of this movement in timber and consequently provides the most stable system for manufacturing cabinets in solid timber. Unfortunately, it is ‘fiddly’ and time consuming and does not easily lend itself to the processes of mass production.
The framework used is not normally more than about 70mm wide so that any movement is minimal. (Timber does not move along the length of its grain). The large areas of the cabinet are made up from loose fitting panels that are allowed to move in grooves cut into the frame. The frames are joined with mortise and tenon or slot mortise joints.
Natural Oil & Wax Finishes
Oil & Wax finishes are a simple, traditional finish used on quality woodwork. The advantages of this type of finish are that it will allow the timber to age naturally, giving the much sought after patina of old furniture. It is easily maintained and damage can usually be repaired by just a wipe over of fresh wax. Hard wearing surfaces such as table tops that will be scratched and dented over time can easily be rewaxed, adding to the look of the timber. This simple method of repair is not possible with synthetic finishes. However, oil finishes are not as hard wearing or resistant to heat and spills as are modern polyurethane finishes and place mats should be used.
Tung Oil (or China Wood Oil) is a naturally occurring oil obtained from the nut of the Tung Tree. It is the active ingredient in the commercially available product known as Danish Oil. Pure Tung Oil is thinned with Gum Turpentine to give a durable and long lasting finish that penetrates and preserves the timber.
Linseed Oil is made from the Flax seed commonly grown in Southern Australia. It penetrates well when thinned with Gum Turpentine and gives a slight orange hue to the finish. Although not as hardwearing or moisture resistant as Tung Oil, it preserves and seals timber and is easily maintained. Linseed Oil combines well with Beeswax.
Beeswax and Carnauba gives an oiled finish a waxy sheen and an easily maintained protection. The wax can penetrate the timber adding to the protective properties of the oil. The addition of small amounts of Carnauba (a wax extracted from the leaves of a palm tree) hardens the Beeswax and gives an extra gloss.