Modern Computer Desk #8: Building the drawers

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Blog entry by Ron Stewart posted 04-29-2017 01:47 PM 1330 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Adding the removable back panel Part 8 of Modern Computer Desk series Part 9: Applying the finish »

I have a confession to make. I’m a lazy drawer box builder. I have the utmost respect for those who create heirloom-quality dovetailed drawers, but I’m not likely to join their ranks. I use 1/2” plywood (birch for this project) for the sides, 1/4” plywood for the bottoms, and pocket screws and glue for joinery. I do route a 1/4” square slot 1/4” from the bottom edge of each side in which to float the bottom, but that’s as fancy as I get.

I used two of my clamping cauls as right-angle braces when driving the screws.

I like Accuride 3832 full-extension drawer slides, and I used 18” ones for this desk. Because I pre-drilled pilot holes in the dividers and inner sides before assembling the case, installing the slides was easy.

The drawer faces took more care. I cut all three faces from the same board. I started by ripping the board to the exact height of the case’s drawer cavities. Then I crosscut the center face to match the divider-to-divider distance, and then cut the left and right faces to fill the remaining openings. At this point, I had three faces that completely filled the front of the case. I would need to trim those faces to create small gaps.

I wasn’t sure how large the gaps between the drawer faces and the case, and between the drawers, should be. I found one article on the web that mentioned using pennies as spacers to create 1/16” gaps, so I decided to give that a try. That worked well. I used pennies to adjust my table saw’s fence and crosscut stop block when trimming the edges.

At this point, I’m taking liberties with the construction sequence again. I added the drawer faces after finishing.

With that done, all that remained was attaching the faces to the drawer boxes. Before installing the drawers, I drilled two slightly oversized holes in the front of each drawer box. To position the faces, I used double-sided carpet tape on the drawer boxes and used the pennies again to position the faces. The tape is quite strong, and it held the faces in place as I carefully opened (by pushing from the back) and removed the drawers, then drove screws through the two holes. I then removed the screws and tape and re-drove the screws. The oversized holes let me make slight adjustments after I reinstalled the drawers.

Next, I’ll describe how I finished the cabinet.

-- Ron Stewart

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