Tansu is a Japanese word for furniture cabinet, and I like to make this piece using knock down joinery. With knock down joinery, the whole case can be assembled and disassembled by one person and without tools. The Japanese style adheres closely to the idea that form follows function, as well as understated design and careful attention to proportion and line. The following pictures will take you through the assembly steps, beginning with a bit of cabinetmaker humor.
From chaos to order: the tansu bench deconstructed. Here are all the components, including rails, side panels, doors and more.
To assemble the tansu I connect the two lower rails with the center connector. They are joined with mortise and tenon, but no glue.
The right shelf panel slides into grooves cut on the inside faces of the rails.
Next, the thru tenons on the lower rails are positioned in line with the lower mortises in the right side panel.
The tenons on the lower rail assembly slide easily into the mortises.
Here’s a closer view of the thru tenon and mortise. The rabbeted edges of the panel are housed in the grooves in the rails with enough extra space to permit seasonal wood movement.
The upper rails are joined with a connector in the same way.
The top panel is shown fitted into the upper rails.
Both sets of rails with the right side panels inserted are fitted into the mortises on the right side panel.
Here’s a close-up view of the thru tenon and mortise on the upper rail.
Next, the center support post is fitted into the top and bottom rail connectors without glue. Placing the center support post inside the cabinet eliminates the need for a visible supports attached to the upper and lower rails and ensures there is no deflection of the rails when people sit down on the bench.
Now the top and bottom panels on the left are in place.
The back, which is a frame and panel construction, slides into place.
Here is the left side panel fitted to the thru tenons on all four rails.
This is another view of the side panel being fitted to the thru tenons on the four rails.
This is a view of the assembled bench. Note the mortises in the thru tenons where the tusks are to be inserted.
Here is the complete chest with the sliding doors in place and the tusks inserted in the thru tenons. This makes for an incredibly strong joint that holds the case square though all manner of use.
This is another view of the thru tenon with the tusk in place.
This is a view of the back of the tansu. The frame and panel construction of the rear panel is both strong and lightweight. With a finished back, this tansu can be used in a furniture grouping in the middle of a room.
Here’s the finished tansu bench, 55″(W) x 17″(H) x 20″(D). The doors slide in grooves and lift out as needed. It takes about fifteen minutes to assemble. No tools.
So, there you have it. A versatile tansu bench with generous storage. It works well in the entry area of a house, at the foot of the bed or as a table in front of a sofa. The natural finish allows the cherry to darken over time and to develop a rich patina.
Thanks for visiting my blog!