Thursday, May 16, 2013


The carcase is done, except for the back, which will go on after finishing:

I have amused myself thinking about how I want to make the drawers for my tool chest.  Books have been written on the subject and I have little to add save my own preferences and some practical considerations.

As I've written, somehow the traditional half-blind  dovetails on the drawers for a tool chest don't feel right to me, sort of like wearing a tuxedo into the shop.  I am not arguing that this makes sense, only that it's my feeling.

A comment suggests through dovetails which would obviously show through the front of the drawer and this appeals to me.   There is a complication in that the dovetails would have to be laid out very carefully or the dados for the runners in the sides would have to be stopped.  I decided to pass.

I could of course make the drawers in the modern fashion--a box with butt joints and a false front.  Based on experience with the custom cabinets in our house, they hold up better than you might expect and I could pin them for strength.  Don't like them.

I went on in this vein for some time and finally came back to where I started with a twist.  What if I used half-blind dovetails with a single tail and pinned the tails in addition?  For whatever reason, this just seems more like what I want to see on a tool chest.  The extreme case is the 3" drawers which, with 1/2" pins will have a tail 2" wide, so I decided to see what they would look like:

These look right to me and I think a couple of 1/8" pins in the tail will look fine, so this is what I am going with.  I think they will have sufficient strength for shallow drawers like this.  A 1/4" dado will run down the middle of the tail.  You may also notice that I am using oak rather than a secondary wood.  I have a lot of alder but I am not sure how it would wear on the runners.  I also intend to take these drawers out a lot and put them on my bench, so they will look nice completed in oak.  There just isn't the cost saving there would be on a large piece.

I happened to stumble across some 24"x30" baltic birch plywood panels on sale so that is what I am going to use for the bottoms, glued solid in slips (Surprisingly, the plywood is actually 1/4" thick, so I can make the groove with my plow plane.).  I know that many of you don't like this, but I think plywood has substantial advantages in this application--these drawers will be very solid.

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