Know Your Carcases

The following is excerpted from “The Essential Woodworker,” by Robert Wearing.

A carcase is a box-like construction made basically from planks, in contrast to the mortice and tenon construction of posts and rails. Small cabinets, cupboards, bookshelves, wardrobes and chests of drawers are all examples of carcases. The main requirement in anything but a nailed-together job is some form of corner jointing, which will be considered later.

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A carcase does not generally stand on the floor (Fig 226) and the sides may be extended to form feet (Fig 227). A box plinth is often used (Fig 228) which may be inset or out-standing. Very common is a low stool (Fig 229) following the table construction and chunky oak pieces can look well on heavy block feet (Fig 230). Corner joints can be avoided by extending the sides (Fig 231) or by overhanging the top (Fig 232). Shelves, either fixed or movable, are generally required and often have vertical divisions. Doors, drawers or a combination of both (Figs 233, 234 and 235) complete the range of possibilities. Backs of some form, from quite elaborate constructions to plywood sheet, are normally the rule (Fig 236). Figs 227-30 require some form of dovetailing in their corner joints. Figs 231-2 avoid this joint, substituting instead a form of mortice and tenon or a dowelled joint.


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