There are several different ways to construction a traditional drawer, which most commonly involves cutting hand-dovetail joints; usually single-lap or “half-blind” dovetails where the sides meet the front, with through dovetails at the back – although, I’ve also seen people use a sliding dovetail housing, for the rear joint. While this joints offer strength beyond the sole reliance on the adhesive used, they are time-consuming to cut and, if you’re working to a commission, it’s very difficult – if not impossible – to cut the cost down on a large chest of drawers, for example. Even with a time-saving router jig; unless you buy the very best, you’re going to end up limited to cutting pins and tails of equal width – just as you might find in a mass-produced piece of furniture! 😛
So, I’d like to take a little time to talk about drawer construction and to share with you this method of “efficient” joint design that I’ve recently come up with…
This time last year, I was building a 6ft long solid beech workbench on my drive way. Ever since I finished that build (and I’ll have a ‘reminder’ post for you, hopefully within the next week), I’ve been meaning to fit a series of drawers underneath. Well, I have more spare wood than every in my workshop right now. I’ve been so sick of stumbling and tripping over it lately that I decided, last week, to take a break away from my other projects and to get these three drawers done instead.
Most of the past week has been spent finishing (literally!) various bits and pieces – look out for future posts in the next week or so. While I began lacquering my English cherry bookshelf several weeks ago, it just wasn’t going as well as I had hoped and the finish was less than satisfactory. Before binning the leftover lacquer and switching to Osmo’s hard wax oil though, I sent an e-mail to Chestnut directly, to see if they could offer any advice…
On and off for the past week, I’ve been discreetly working away on a small cabinet made from regular English oak and brown oak, with a curved front. That means both the drawer front and door will also have to be curved – not something I’ve done before! While I feel I’ve made very good progress already, I’m once again frustrated with myself for making a couple of basic errors.
Before lunchtime yesterday, I successfully managed to assemble my bookshelf for the very last time and left it for several hours in the cramps. I don’t think I should ‘have‘ to those extra clamps in the middle, pulling the shoulders of the shelves in tightly… Perhaps those dovetail housings could have been a little bit tighter after all?
It’s fair to say that I’ve been procrastinating away from making progress on this cherry bookshelf (hence the flurry unrelated posts in between this one and the last!). While it took me the best part of two-days, I did eventually manage to get the dovetail joints cut and fitted, and I’m now ready to start cutting the sliding dovetail housings for the shelves, later on this week. This was also the first time I had used my new dovetail saw, made by Atkinson Walker in Sheffield.