Thursday, May 6, 2010

Drawers & Dovetails pt. 1

Making a nice drawer is definitely a challenge. One that sometimes get over looked. It needs precision work. Work that can often go wrong at any point in the process when searching for that perfect fit.
Stock prep. Because I have curved drawer fronts I have more prep to do. When shaping the fronts, the back of the fronts, where the joints will meet is most critical. Here I'm using the bottom of the front as a common registration for checking the shaping for "squareness".
If your ends are not co-planer you will get a crooked and awkward drawer heh.

I used a couple of scraps for "story sticks" The only story each of these have is the width of the drawer pocket opening, that and they allow me to see what kind of let-go I have in the cabinet. The are exact fits for each pocket opening.

Next I cross cut the drawer front on one side. The material was already fit to the height of the pocket. The edge is cleaned up with a block plane and checked against the cabinet side for fit. The cabinet may not be perfectly square, just make the fit according to where it's going!

Then take the "story-stick" with you to the table saw. I set a stop slightly wider than the exact fit stick. This allowance needs to cover a few things... Cleaning the cross-cut up, allowing the pins to sit a little proud when doing joinery, and planing to fit the drawer to the pocket. There's no CORRECT allowance one should leave. There are a number of factors - how well does your table saw perform?, how proud do you make your pins?, how much are you comfortable planing off the drawers to fit?

So with the stop set, and in my case the carriage trimmed first, MAKE SURE you're cutting the CORRECT SIDE! ha. And cut.

Cutting half-blind pins in the fronts. I could have fit five tails into these fronts which would be nice for a jewelry box type project but I figured with the thick fronts that I have the long skinny tails would look a little... misplaced perhaps? I'm using such "thick" fronts (about 1/2") because I'm hoping to make carved recessed drawer pulls without going through the back :)

I made an angled "chop-block" and ramp for the angled joinery. I have the feeling that I will rarely give myself the chance to do nice flat and square drawers ha, so I'm getting used to making curved and angled jigs to help and hold work along the way.

Fast forward a number of hours and all the pins are set to go!
Pear for the fronts and Maple for the rest.


Nick Brygidyr said...

Ive read that FWW article about curved drawer fronts and dovetails. it mentioned the use of this shim to pare right on the baseline of the half blinds, do you use that shim? whenever i try to use it for regular half blinds...things just never quite line up.

anyways i need to ask you a question about lumbercore substrates. is it alright to use 8/4 lumber for them, or should i re-saw it into 1 inch thick stuff and then glue it all together?

Nicholas Nelson said...

Ah yes, I do use a shim. I make the shim out of scrap wood (don't know what fww used) so that I can make it what ever thickness I want.
Things aren't lining up? Well I don't know if this will help... I don't score the "overlay" line of the half blinds with a marking gauge like the rest of the lines. I put the front in the chop-block and use a single-bevel knife on the shim to make that line.
The thing to look out for is that the front may not be of perfect uniform thickness, so this line may be a little "crooked". That's okay. You just need to adjust the tales when fitting.

Lumber-core. How thick of substrates do you need!? ha. I generally wouldn't use 2" wide strips... theoretically, the more glued seams you have the more stable the piece will be. You don't need to go over board though. Just be mindful of the way you organize your strips.

Nick Brygidyr said...

wait score the "gauge line" with a knife? you know i always thought of doing that...but how do you get the right distance on the tail board for the base line then...since you didnt use a marking gauge the first time..

well im not sure yet haha, pretty thick, its gonna be the sides and back of a hall table, theyre gonna be shaped though. so i donno...1 or so inches thick by 7ish inches wide?
so lets say i use my 8/4 poplar, it'll be like 3.5 layers that are 2X4...i donno if that made sense, im thinking i should have got 4/4 lumber grrr

Nick Brygidyr said...

what am i saying 2x4, 2x1ish i meant all stacked up