Friday, February 8

Back Notchin’ & ‘T’ Rails

I got an early start today and was able to get right to work on cutting the notches in the back panel that support the rear ends of the T rail drawer slides.

Again I find the surest way to insure that the notches in the back are exactly aligned with those in the front is to use the front grid as a lay-out tool and transfer the notch locations right onto the back panel.

Once they are laid out I dismantle the back panel and take the back rails (into which the notches will be cut) to the mortising machine to make quick work of chopping out neat little pockets. A stub tenon on the back end of the T rail will fit snugly into this pocket.

Next I mill out the T rails. These are shaped by using a regular ATBR saw blade and nibbling out the shape, guided by my little set-up jig. I set up for the first cut, make that cut on all 9 T rails, adjust for the next cut and cut all 9 rails again. It takes two passes to form the stub tenon on the back end, seven more cuts at two different blade heights to shape ‘stair steps’ on the front end. My precision miter fence helps a lot to get the cuts in the right place. When they’re all done I knock off the fuzzy bits with some 100 grit paper and pop them into place in the casework to see how they fit. Perfect! I love it when that happens!

This drawer slide system uses a T shaped wooden rail that runs down the center of each drawer, underneath the drawer. A nylon “claw” is fastened to the rear of each drawer to guide it and prevent the drawer from tipping down as you pull it out. To make it possible to remove the drawers I cut away a small portion of the T right at the front of the rail; pull the drawer all the way out and lift the back of it and it will disengage and lift away so you can carry the drawer somewhere else. You will want to be careful to support the drawer some if you pull it nearly all the way out or the weight of a full drawer levering against the T rail may strip the wings of the T off. I have not actually seen it happen yet, but it could if you are careless with it. These drawers can get heavy when they’re full.

We could use metal roller bearing slides instead of these wooden ones, but we wanted to retain the “traditional” flavor of the piece and using metal, side mounted slides would mean adding 3 inches to the width of the cabinet to accommodate the slides. Plus these T rails allow full extension of the drawer so you can easily see and retrieve CD’s in the back 1/3 of the drawer.

My final task for the day is to make the apron that sits under the grid work in the cabinet’s front. I strike the arc with a beam compass, rough cut the arc with the band saw, then refine it with a sanding drum in the drill press.

It may interest you to know that except for a couple pieces of masking tape, this cabinet is being held together with nothing more than friction – no glue, nails or screws yet. And it held together well enough for me to pick the entire cabinet up and carry it into the next room. Think how sturdy it will be when I’ve installed the glue and screws!

OK, it’s my birthday today and I’m going to quit just a bit early this afternoon so I can get cleaned up and ready to celebrate with my wife.

Nance, when you get those color samples – assuming one of them is the right color – just e-mail me the name of one you choose. If none are right, use those as references to pick a couple more from the color chart and go from there.

Next week I’ll mill out and attach the top plate and the casework will be done.

Have a great weekend!


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