Charles Neil build along mahogany lowboy "series" #17: week

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Blog entry by a1Jim posted 08-13-2010 05:30 AM 11444 reads 1 time favorited 33 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 16: week Part 17 of Charles Neil build along mahogany lowboy "series" series Part 18: week »

Charles Neil mahogany lowboy build-along, #17
Now I’m at the point where it’s time to install the drawer fronts. Charles has a unique approach to drawers and drawer fronts. His approach that I’ve used on this project includes having the front of the drawers being made of the same species of wood that the drawer fronts are made. To start the process I take a small combination square and mark a pencil mark a ¼” away from each corner of the drawer openings.




Now I measure the distance in between the marks and these measurements represent the drawer fronts.


I have already prepared the drawer front material and planed them to approximately 5/16” thick.


After cutting the drawer fronts to size, I then route the detail on the edges of the drawer fronts.


When doing this, I make three passes, raising the router bit a little at a time, or following Charles approach, “sneaking up on it.” Routing this way helps make a burn-free, blow-out free drawer front.




In case you’re not aware, routing the end grain first insures that if you have a wood blow out on the end grain, the long passes remove the damage. Now that I have the drawer front’s cut out and routed, I need to find out exactly where the pulls and lock keyhole cover goes. To do that I mark the centers on the top drawer front and the lower center drawer front, plus the two taller side drawers.


Now that the centers are marked, I place a pencil mark on the case indicating where the centers are. Next I hold the top shelf where it will be installed and carry the center lines up from the two side drawers to make sure the pulls will line up on the side drawers and the upper drawer. After all the centers are marked I then place a Chippendale cover so it’s centered over all my marks on the drawer fronts and trace each of them where they will be placed.


Now I’m ready to apply my drawer fronts. I take each drawer and apply a heavy coat of glue (as if it was painted with a heavy coat of paint) on its front. Now moving quickly, I take the drawer fronts and center them in between the ¼” marks made earlier



and shoot nails (22 GA) in the drawer fronts, only where they will be hidden with the hardware when installed and that have been drawn on the drawer fronts. I now take the drawer assembly and carefully clamp the drawer fronts to the drawers,


cleaning any excess glue as I go. It’s important to make sure the drawer front hasn’t moved and that it’s been clamped tight to the drawer so that no gap is visible. On the two drawers that are the same size, after nailing, they are clamped face to face with some wax paper in between. Not shown in the photo are two long clamps that were placed on each side, clamping both drawers, top to bottom for additional pressure.


After the clamps are removed and the drawers are in place, the thin drawer fronts and the inner drawer front look as if they were one piece of wood with half blind dovetails cut in them.

Next time, we move on to the finial and if we have time, the hardware. Remember, the techniques used are from Charles Neil’s subscription online webisode.
Sign up for Charles, “Mastering Woodworking” webisodes a new project starts this today; an amazing blanket chest, so don’t miss out.

This is another innovative approach to drawer making developed by Charles over many years of period furniture making.

33 comments so far

View cwdance1's profile


1160 posts in 3802 days

#1 posted 08-13-2010 05:33 AM

Sure wish I could do work like that, maybe some day.

View patron's profile


13658 posts in 3884 days

#2 posted 08-13-2010 05:50 AM

well done once again , jim .

well illustrated too .

that’s the thing to remember ,
lots of small steps ,
lead up to the final project .

not big jumps ,
that can lead to mistakes ,
or under planing .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3813 days

#3 posted 08-13-2010 05:56 AM

Wow…turning out great…I look forward to each post and the pics really make things go together. Great job on the lowboy and great job on documenting the steps you are taking….they are invaluable to any level woodworker…and it is very fun to watch your progress.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Delta356's profile


463 posts in 3397 days

#4 posted 08-13-2010 06:15 AM

It’s just amazing!!!! WOW….................................................................................

View a1Jim's profile


117746 posts in 4120 days

#5 posted 08-13-2010 06:21 AM

Hey CWdance that’s what’s it all about is a challenge Charles takes if through it step by step and even tell you what not to do.
Right on David when you do it in little steps before know it each step is done and you have it done. As easy as howling at the moon LOL
Thanks reggie sometimes you spend a lot of time putting these things together and wonder if folks are really interested.
Thanks so much Michael Delta356

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3668 days

#6 posted 08-13-2010 06:24 AM

Gee, it’s great to follow along – I’ve been doing exactly the same things as you, LOL!
After seeing the front, you sure have come a long way!


View a1Jim's profile


117746 posts in 4120 days

#7 posted 08-13-2010 06:27 AM

Thanks for checking it out Jordon I’m enjoying your blog also.

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 3424 days

#8 posted 08-13-2010 07:04 AM

Curious about cleaning the excess glue. It smears if I clean it after it oozes and if I wait, it’s too hard. Is there a trick to it? A wet rag?

Ahem, I like your legs!

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10790 posts in 4596 days

#9 posted 08-13-2010 07:30 AM

You sure make it look SIMPLE! :) ;D

Nice work!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View a1Jim's profile


117746 posts in 4120 days

#10 posted 08-13-2010 07:51 AM

Thanks Ron and Joe
Ron I use a sponge that’s just barley damp and also a pointed stick a little smaller than a carpenters pencil
that has kind of a flat point to clean out glue in tight spaces. It’s best to let the glue get firm but not hard to use that tool

View mafe's profile


12144 posts in 3633 days

#11 posted 08-13-2010 11:48 AM

Hi Jim,
Yes, you sure make it look simple, but still I’m impressed, and can see years of working hands behind the simplicity.
Thank you for sharing this with us,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3739 days

#12 posted 08-13-2010 01:21 PM

Great post Jim. I’m really enjoying following along with your progress ad techniques being used.

You confused me at first with saying ”...front of the drawers being made of the same species of wood that the drawer fronts are made.” Huh, two drawer fronts? But at the end it all makes sense. Is this just so its easier and quicker than doing a real half blind? Anyways, it’s looking great!!!

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 3746 days

#13 posted 08-13-2010 02:28 PM

Very nice work Jim. It is really turning out to be a good looking lowboy. Thanks for taking so many pics – I love the detail you have put into this blog. Keep ‘em coming.

-- I've never seen a tree that I wouldn't like to repurpose into a project. I love the smell of wood in the morning - it smells like victory.

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 3608 days

#14 posted 08-13-2010 03:08 PM

It’s looking good Jim..

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Dennis Fletcher's profile

Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 3598 days

#15 posted 08-13-2010 03:11 PM

This is a great project. I’ve been following with great interest. If I had the extra funds, Charles would have another subscriber, not to mention the amount of money I would put out for his products. Oh well, one day.

--, Making design and application one. †

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