Wednesday, June 23

Boxing Drawers

Oh, goodness, where did we leave off? OK, the cases were assembled and I was moving on to drawer parts. I start my pulling some poplar lumber and milling out the parts I need for the sides, fronts and backs of the two drawer boxes. I also make a set of drawer slips for each drawer. More about these in a minute. Most of this milling is the same as always, rough cut the parts, joint one face and one edge, plane the opposite face and rip the rough edge off as I cut the blank to finished width. Then I cut the parts to finished length, making sure both ends are square, Drawer boxes need to be good and square at the corners or they can end up twisted. Then I mill out the pieces needed to glue up the drawer bottoms. Why am I not using plywood? I could. I have. But for drawers of this size, using solid wood is more attractive and just as sturdy, and it keeps the materials cost down. When all the parts are tongue’d or grooved I sand them well and glue them into the drawer frame. On these drawers I’m using drawer slips; and old-world method of holding drawer bottoms. The slips are ¾” x ¾” rails, grooved to hold the bottom, and I bevel the upper edge, which will be inside the drawer. These rails are glued to the sides and front of the box. The bottom, which is rabbeted along the sides and front, allowing a ¼” tongue to fit into the grooves and the rest of the bottom to be 7/16” thick for strength slides in under a shortened back piece. The use of slips allows the drawer sides to be much thinner and more elegant than they would have to be if the bottom were grooved into them. It requires a little extra machining, but I think the results are worth it. Here I’m testing the fit. I won’t nail the bottom in place until after the box has been lacquered. Before doing the finish sanding, I round-over the upper edges of the drawer frame to make them feel nicer under the user’s hand. I leave the outside front edge square, it will lay up against the oak drawer face, and I want a nice snug fit there. Then it’s on to the finish sanding, tacking off the dust and lacquering. Frame and bottom get two good coats, a scuff sanding and one last coat of lacquer. After the last coat dries thoroughly I’ll assemble the drawer and pin the bottom in place by driving two small nails up through the bottom into the back piece. No glue in the grooves: being solid wood, it will need to expand and contract. Besides, should a drawer bottom ever break, leaving it unglued make replacing it much easier. Finally I install the drawer slide parts to the bottom of the drawers and place them onto the cabinet to be sure they fit properly. I want to make them so the drawer frames are as deep as possible, but we still need to be able to get the drawers out. Of course I tested all that before I assembled the drawers, so there should be no surprises here.
Just one last step to do and construction will be complete.

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