This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
The description of the making of a 6 1/2-ft. break-front wardrobe in solid wood, as shown in Fig. 698, by W. Parnell, received a prize from the Cabinet-maker. It is as follows.
When you have your job set out, get and cut out the whole of the material necessary to make it, choosing (if the choice is left to you) dry and well-seasoned wood for every part. Next shoot and glue all joints, glue on all facings on inside ends and tops and bottoms; on the 2 ends of the centre carcase it will be necessary to joint a piece of solid wood to the front edge to allow for the extra width of that carcase; this piece must be 3 1/2 in. wide, and of the same wood as the exterior of the job, whatever it may be. Your joints and glueings being all done, plane up to the proper thickness the whole of the wood, shooting the front edge of each piece straight and square. Do not bring your carcase stuff to the exact width until after it is squared off; but you may bring the stuff for the plinth and cornice frames to the right width, also the door stuff, allowing the stiles 1/16 in. wider than the finished size, for fitting.
When you have all your wood planed, proceed to make the plinth and cornice frames : these are in pine, therefore make them 1/2 in. shorter than the finished size; let the front rail of the plinth and cornice frames run the whole length less the 1/2 in. Exactly as if you were going to make a straight-front wardrobe, dovetail the front and ends together, dovetail the back rail down at such a distance from the back ends of the end rail as will admit of a block being glued behind it; allow the cross dovetails to go just "hand tight," for when they are too tight they are apt to force the end of the rail out and make it crooked; dovetail down 2 cross rails to come between the carcases, allow the plinth, back, and cross rails to be 1 in. wider than the front and end rails to allow them to stand level with the plinth mouldings, and the back and cross rails of the cornice frame to stand down 1/2 in. to be level with the moulding under the cornice. Prepare your break pieces for the cornice and plinth, lining them up at each end to 3 in. thick; let the linings go the same way of the grain as the fronts, and be 5-7 in. long; square the breaks up 1/2 in. shorter than finished length, and fit them in their exact positions, with 2 dowels, one at each end, but do not glue them yet.
Glue your plinth and cornice frames together; set them square, glue a block in each corner, and put them on one side whilst you proceed with your doors; set out the stiles and rails from your board, gauge for the mortices and tenons, so that the outside of the tenon comes in a line with the inside of the door moulding, which will bring the tenon almost in the centre of the thickness of the stuff. The top rail of the centre door will be as much thinner as the moulding is rebated so as to allow for the arched head, which will be a piece of thin wood grooved into the stiles with a shoulder on the front side only, and after the door is glued together, to be slid down from the top and glued to the face of the top rail; this will allow the glass panel to be square. Before glueing your doors together, put them up dry and see that they are true; otherwise, when they are glued you may perhaps have a good bit of trouble with them. The small corners in the wing doors should be the same thickness as the head in the centre door, and should be tongued into the stiles, but need not be to the rail, as it is the same way of the grain, and if well jointed and glued will hold as well.
When you have glued your doors together, and seen that they are true and square, and that the stiles are straight with the rails, proceed to mitre a piece of wood 1/4 in. thick, of the same sort as the exterior of the job, round your plinth and cornice frames; next make the frames for the carcase, backs, and blind frame for the centre door; make your mortices and cut your tenons before ploughing the grooves in the edges to receive the panels. In putting the centre upright and cross rails together for the centre carcase, back and blind frame, allow the cross rail to cut through the upright, if halved together, so that it may appear as though the upright was in 2 pieces and mortised into the cross rail, which is done in some shops, but preferably halved together. When you have your frames ready, knock them together, dry, and hang them up out of the way.
Now work your mouldings; and in working the mouldings for the doors plough a groove on the reverse side, so that when the moulding is cut off the board it will form a rebate to rest on the doorstile. When you have worked and cleaned up all the mouldings necessary for the job, proceed to mitre and glue on those for the plinth and cornice, taking care that for the internal mitres you use parts of the same length of moulding, so that they may intersect without requiring any easing; do not at present glue the internal mitres, but when the mouldings are all on the frames take off the break pieces, easing the moulding at the mitres if necessary, and now glue the breaks on, and when dry level off any odding, and put the plinth and cornice on one side.
Next clean up the doors on the front sides, merely levelling the backs, and put in the mouldings. Square up all the stuff for the carcases and fittings with the exception of drawers, tray and peg-rail fronts and backs, and one end of drawers and tray bottoms. In squaring the top, shelf and bottom of the centre carcase, allow them to be a trifle large at the back so that the drawers and trays may run freely, but it must be very little, not more than the thickness of veneer (1/32 in.), otherwise it will have the contrary effect of giving them too much play. Make the carcase tops and bottoms £ in. shorter than the extreme length of the carcase, to allow 5/16 in. lap on each carcase end; and the shelves and partition edges 3/4 in. longer than the length of the carcase between the ends, to allow 3/8 in. at each end for a dovetail.