Thursday, August 4, 2011

Drawer fitting...

I completed the dovetails for each of the three drawers and began the meticulous work of assembling the drawers and fitting them to their respective compartments in the cabinet. Sometimes when I begin to saw and carve out dovetail joints I can go on and on, it is such a peaceful and fulfilling process. I never tire of staring at very good, tight dovetail joints. A few of the steps involved in assembling and fitting drawers are fitting the drawer sides to the drawer fronts. The sides need to be square to the fronts in two planes.

I created rabbets in each of the drawer sides as well as the fronts of each drawer. The back of the drawer has an opening which allows me to slide a custom fit drawer bottom in and pin it to the drawer back. This is a time-proven technique which allows me to replace the drawer bottom if necessary at some point in the future. It also allows for wood movement as the drawer bottom grain orientation is front to back and such is not placing any undue stress on the drawer itself.

The fitting procedure is a bit time-consuming as this is part of the process and a necessary one. I have a couple of the drawer dimensions ever so slightly oversize to allow me to tune the fit to the compartment. Better slightly oversized than undersized. I handplane the sides down to fit the compartment and lightly trim the top and bottom as well. One of the drawers to the right has a lower lip which also needs to be tune to the bottom drawer top, to create a minimal gap yet provide an allowance for wood movement. The drawer bottoms, which I have yet to create, will have rabbeted sides to fit the drawer grooves. This allows me to maintain a thicker drawer bottom yet rabbeted to fir the sides and front of the drawer. I'll continue on with this procedure and begin to give thought to the drawer pulls.

Monday, August 1, 2011


In the last post I had designed and created the three drawer compartments. Since then I have cut the parts for the individual drawers and begun the process of dovetailing the fronts to the sides of the drawers. Fitting of the drawers into their respective compartments can be a time-consuming process. Instead, by carefully measuring the parts to more precisely fit the compartments, much of the final fitting is reduced. This is my approach, I mark and measure precisely and then lay out the dovetails.

In this case I went a step further by creating a test joint using similar components as the actual drawers. I do this for a couple of reasons. One is to determine the best dovetail placement and spacing and secondly to prepare the two marking gauges and the divider I use to mark and create the dovetails. The dovetails are of the half-blind type, referring to the fact that the tails are hidden or set back in the pins. This type of dovetail hides the joint from the drawer front face and is more elegant than through dovetails.

Creating dovetails is an enjoyable process and a few precision tools are involved: different sizes of chisels, a fine dovetail saw, marking tools, a small block plane, etc. In one case, a drawer has a small lip overhanging the drawer divider so there is more of a challenge with this particular one.
There is little to no margin for error as the joints need to be perfectly fit.
The pin marking need to be offset from the bottom by the width of the overhang or lip. I make most of the adjustments of the dovetail joints within the hidden part of the joint.In the photo you can see one complete drawer, a smaller test drawer and the components of another drawer being prepared.