Thursday, May 23, 2013

Drawer progress

The dry fitted drawers, sans bottoms, slide easily on the runners and I think the single half-blind dovetail joint was a good choice as it leaves room for the dado and provides a strong mechanical joint on such a shallow drawer.

I previously posted links to two videos about making half-blind dovetails that contain a number of tips I hadn't seen before and I decided to try one of them.  I cut the pins first and then marked out the drawer front to receive them.  After I made the diagonal saw cuts in the usual manner, I used my drill press to drill a row of holes just shy of the baseline and just a little shallower than the length of the tail.  I split out the waste from the end of the drawer front, then removed the final sliver by registering the chisel in the marking gauge line.  The final step is to pare down to the marking gauge line to the baseline from the row of holes.  I hope my description is clear as I forgot to take pictures, but you can look at the video if you are interested.  It is similar to creating a tenon by sawing the shoulder and  then splitting it out from the end.  This method is very fast and seemingly foolproof, though I realize it is "cheating."  You could do essentially the same thing with a hand drill though.  I was really surprised by how quickly this went and how accurate it is.  I am very slow at chopping out dovetail waste with a chisel and this tip really speeded things up.

Here's the result:

There is absolutely no place to hide with drawer construction like this.  I'd like to tell you the drawers came out this way on the first try but the truth is it took some adjusting with a plane to get the spacing looking this good.  I do regret the mismatched grain in the one drawer front, but these were scraps and I didn't have any more like the others.  It would have looked better on the bottom I think, but the scrap wasn't wide enough for that (there are three drawer widths).

I read recently that Garret Hack is teaching a week-long course on making drawers and this project makes me realize how much I'd like to take it.  As it is, I am more or less making this up as I go along as I haven't made drawers like this before.  I've read about achieving a "piston fit" and I decided to go for it with some trepidation.  The tolerances are very tight and it wouldn't take much to create a real problem.  As a result, I became very concerned about the glue-up and decided to take it slowly, one step at a time.  The drawers have to be precisely square and I decided that gluing in a solid bottom in slips and assembling the complete drawer in one step was more than I wanted to attempt the first time around, so I am trying something unusual.  I decided to just glue up the front and sides first and then install the bottom and back in a second step.  This may well be crazy.  Here's what step one looks like:

I hope my wife doesn't find out I am using her granite counter as a flat and warm place for these to dry.  Since the back will be pinned in the rabbet, my idea is to glue in the slips, slide in the bottom and install the back as a second step.  We'll see.  Perhaps I'll get a lesson in reversing hide glue.  :(

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