Building Arched Cabinets

A first-timer asks for advice on making a veneer arch. Cabinetmakers suggest products and methods, and show project examples. July 9, 2005

I am looking for some ideas on how to fabricate a cabinet with an arched top. The face and the cabinet itself will arch. Do I use bending plywood and then veneer? It’s going to be cherry. Another potential option is to use Tambour material and fold it around the arch. I haven't done any real veneering (no vacuum bag), so the veneering will be a challenge. The other option is to cooper it. What am I missing? Any insight will be greatly appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
Inevitably you need to make up some forms and do some laminating. How deep is the cabinet and is the front or top bowed? Also, is it concave or convex, and what’s the radius?

My point is, as many variables as there are, there are an equal number of solutions. So depending on the extremity of the curves, you could probably make up a couple of forms (in and out) and laminate plies between. There are other alternatives to veneering as well, like paper backed veneer that applies fairly with contact adhesive.

From contributor K:
The arches in the cabinets below were done using a product called Timberflex. You could make the top curve just as well. The first picture is just the Timberflex painted, and the second is Timberflex with oak veneer applied. The trim crosspieces on the arches are just a design feature the client wanted and they aren’t necessary.

Click here for full size image

From contributor T:
To Contributor K: Nice looking casework. How did you join the arch to the front panel?

From contributor K:
To contributor T: While I am cutting out the curved rails, I rout a shallow groove below the panel for the edge of the Timberflex. You can cut it so that you have any reveal that you choose. On the wide panels, I cut a curved back brace that sits to the sides of the lighting cans.