Roll Around Tool Cabinet #29: Drawers: Planed, Pared and Hung

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Blog entry by HappyHowie posted 04-07-2017 05:32 AM 1659 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 28: Jeez Louise, Did I Measure That Wrong? Part 29 of Roll Around Tool Cabinet series Part 30: Project Completed: Lessons Learned »


For those that have followed my blog entries for this project, my last entry was a few weeks ago. Back then I had witnessed that my drawers seemed to be too wide, but after further measurements and inspection my drawers were just very tight. I needed to pare or make flush the proud dovetail joints on the corners of these drawer boxes.

I have not worked in my shop for three weeks because I have been following my doctor’s instruction to stay off my left foot. I have a pressure sore or wound on its heel. My doctor reminded me that the only way these types of wound heal are by staying off of my feet, or foot. I did get into my shop for a few hours last week where I did clean up these dovetail joints for all seven drawers.

For the backend of the drawers it was easy to clamp the drawers to my benchtop and use my #3 Wood River bench plane to get the proud joints flush to the side and back boards. I tried using my shoulder plane to work the proud joints that are aligned with my sapele false drawer fronts. Finally, it dawned on me to use my long Narex paring chisel to do this work. I should have thought of using my paring chisel much earlier. I had a very sharp edge on this chisel. I kept it that way by simply touching the edge up on my leather strop.

I purposely designed this cabinet so my drawers would fit tightly between its metal slides. I paid particular attention to keeping the case square and especially when I installed the center panel divider. I had made a mistake on my first large dresser with its panel divider. I had a devil of time mounting those drawers because the front to back dimension was not square, the same. I ended up using wedges or spacers to get those metal slides to fit properly. So I hope I am learning from my past mistakes.

It seems that I have done a lot better this time around with this cabinet. I am proud of the drawers I made for this project and how they now hang in its bay.

I have embedded a few photographs of the work I did to plane and pare the proud joints flush to the side and back drawer part surfaces.

I had mounted the first two top drawers prior to today’s work. So entering my shop this morning I had plans to complete hanging the remaining five drawers.


I had received great advice here on Lumberjocks on how I should proceed using the MDF spacer. I was using two MDF spacers to hang the top drawer. I took the advice from several members to use just one spacer instead of two so I would not encounter differences in their lengths. How I employed using this single MDF spacer is in the manner I have described in detail below:

I would clamp the 3/4 inch thick MDF spacer to the center panel. It was cut to the length or height that I needed to mount the drawer in its bay. My drawer sides, back and front parts (including my false drawer front) are all flush to each other for their bottom and top edges. So my drawers will sit on top of this MDF spacer. For my metal drawer slides I am positioning those 1/4 inch above the bottom edge of the drawers. I am therefore placing this small 1/4 thick hardwood spacer on top of the large MDF spacer. I am placing the metal slide so it is sitting on top of the small 1/4 inch tall spacer. With the metal drawer slide held in place and its front edge aligned flush to my 1/4 inch offset (which is the thickness of my sapele false drawer fronts) I fasten the metal slides with the #8 panhead screws that came in the slide kit. I fasten the screws one at time, from the front to the back by pre-drilling the screw hole with my center-hole drill bit. I use bee’s wax on the screws. I use my impact driver to fasten the screw, but finish the fastening with my short phillips handheld screw driver.

Once the first slide is fastened, I transfer the MDF spacer to the other side of the bay, place the small 1/4 thick spacer on top of it and fasten that slide to its panel.

For this tool cabinet, I have followed a Woodsmith plan. The center divider is a 3/4 inch Maple plywood panel. The plan called for two 1 1/2 inch thick poplar hardwood spacers to be glued to the inside surface of the outside panel of this cabinet’s case. The two spacers were needed because of the width of the cabinet’s face frame stretcher. The stretchers in this face frame were 1 1/4 inch wide. Thus, the 1 1/2 inch thick spacers were needed so the metal slides would be mounted to the two thick spacers. If I was to make this project again, I would add a third 1 1/2 inch thick spacer and glue or fasten it so I could use the middle screw holes in the metal slides. As it is now, I could only use screws holes in the very front and back of the metal slide on this side of the drawer bay. I did use four screw holes into these thick spacers; two screws in the front portion and two in the back of the slide.

After mounting both metal slides for a drawer, I then used both large MDF spacers to hold the drawer in its height position while I fastened the metal slide to its drawer. I would pull the metal slide out a few inches so the first screw hole was accessible so I could pre-drill the screw hole. If my large MDF spacer was positioned against the center divider, I would fasten that metal slide to the drawer. I would again work from the front to the back by pre-drilling centered screw holes. I would pull the drawer out just enough so I could fasten the first screw. Then I would pull the drawer out further so I could then fasten another screw closer to the center of the slide and drawer. I discovered that I could not get the very back screw hole to be visible to work on while the drawer was mounted to the slide. Thus, I left the drawer hung as it was and I would transfer the large MDF spacer to the other side of the cabinet bay. It would switch positions with the other MDF spacer. This swap was done so I was always using the same MDF spacer to fasten the slide to the drawer (as was done with fastening the metal slide to the cabinet case). I would then fasten the slide to the drawer on this opposite side of the drawer, front to back.

Since I was unable to fasten the back screws to the drawer, after both sides of the drawer were fastened to the slides, I would dismount the drawer and complete fastening the slide to the drawer with screws at the backend of the slide. There were already enough screws in the metal slide fastened to the dismounted drawer so I was confident that the slide was in its proper position and would not move, if I was careful in drilling a hole and fastening the remaining screws. I made it a habit to fasten two screws in the backend of the metal slide to each drawer.

After a drawer has been mounted then I would cut the large MDF spacer to its new shorter length on my SawStop table saw. I use a cross-cut sled that I know is square to the blade. I use William Ng's Five Cuts to a Perfect Cross-cut Sled method to make sure my sled is square.

With the MDF spacer cut to its new shorter length, I would then repeat the process above until all the drawers were mounted.

For the last drawer, the length of the MDF spacer is measured by marking the location of the face frame that must be cleared. I then cut that MDF spacer to that mark by leaving the pencil line. I used a stop block on my table saw to mark the length of the standard spacer and to cut the second MDF spacer to that length.

I have two remaining tasks to complete this tool cabinet build. I have magnetic door catches to fasten; one for each of the four doors on this cabinet. Plus, I have four door knobs to place; one on each door.


Note: If I was more experienced in mortising and placing butt hinges, I might know how to adjust the butt hinges I have mounted to this cabinet’s face frame and doors. One door out of four hangs okay. The rest do not close or stay in their closed position. I suspect I may have to readjust how these three butt hinges as fastened to the face frame and its door. I am going to search the Internet and my subscription to Fine Woodworking Magazine online site to see if anyone has given instructions on how to adjust butt hinges for a better fitting door. I hope there will be some answers so I do not have to blindly make changes and hope for the best. I am worried that I will strip out the screw holes before I get a good solution. If someone here on Lumberjocks can provide help, I am a willing student.

-- --- Happy Howie

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