I've spent some time in the past day or so working on an optimal dovetail layout for the eight drawer fronts. Since the height of each drawer is approximately 1.75 inches, this doesn't leave much room for multiple dovetails. After some consideration and sketching of layouts on some precut cardboard, I decided on a layout comprising two tails and somewhat narrow pins. I feel this looks elegant and has sufficient strength for such a small drawer. The tails are housed within the drawer front, also known as blind or lapped dovetails, and in doing so, do not take anything away from the appearance of the face of the drawer fronts. I went ahead and mocked up a sample dovetailed corner with the exact dimensions of the drawer height and the sizes of the components. This mock-up allows me a better feel for how the drawer will look in the drawer case. In the photo, the mock-up or sample drawer corner has a cherry front and alder for the side.
I haven't decided which wood I'll be using for the drawer sides just yet, my criteria is to have a striking contrast with the drawer front. It isn't visible in the photo, but I have also created the grooves for the drawer bottom in the mock-up. The process of laying out dovetails involves locating the drawer bottom groove on the tail and pin board. The groove, in this case .25 inch, is completely contained within the lower tail. This both simplifies the process and does not introduce any issues with overlap of pin and tail with the groove, possibly weakening the joint.. Therefore, consideration of where the drawer bottom groove is located is part of the layout process for the dovetails.
I'm glad to have gone through this exercise and in the process also have the exact measurements with precise settings on my tools to be able to replicate these dovetails. I create the tails first, then use the tails to mark out the pins. I now have two marking gauges preset to the correct depths of both the drawer side and drawer front, I use a divider to mark the dovetails.
Next I will cut and prepare the parts for the eight drawers paying careful attention to the grain orientation of the drawer fronts. I'll also prepare extra components for a complete drawer as extra insurance against any mistakes. The nice part about this process is that every drawer is fairly identical and therefore the initial layout and measurements apply to each set of drawer components. In my next post, I'll have everything laid out and marked and hopefully partially complete.