Building For The Wife #3: Constructing drawers and breadboard no1

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Blog entry by fatman51 posted 09-18-2015 06:06 PM 1436 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Ipe drawer glides for custom kitchen bureau. Part 3 of Building For The Wife series Part 4: Constructing drawers and breadboard no 2 »

I had a nice little cabinet, and some drawer glides milled out of an old chunk of exterior decking lumber, but no drawers and no bread board. Anxious to remedy this, I have been spending my evenings in my shop.

My first job was to mill the back and side panels for the drawers out of forty year old reclaimed pine 1×12s.

Then I picked out a piece of knotty pine for my front panels.

I put some thought into what sort of joint I wanted to use for my drawers. On ordinary cabinet drawers I generally use a dado joint for the back panel, a rabbit joint for the front, and nails. I like nails, my first tool was a hammer. While I was deciding, I examined the old sideboard that was my inspiration. The woodworker who built it was a pretty fair hand and I like the dovetail joint that he employed.

Nonetheless, I chose the sliding dovetail for my drawer fronts and a common dado joint for the back. I like the sliding dovetail, because its expedient and, when executed correctly, it is a self clamping glue joint. I used a dado joint for the back panels and routed a 3/8 dado for the bottom panel.

Cutting the back dados on the table saw, I cut the dovetails on my router table, snug, and then fit and numbered each joint so that the drawers would be square and tight.

Next, i installed the drawer guides, which were glued, clamped, screwed, and fitted into the sliding dovetail.

When I was done with all of this, it was time to cut bottom panels out of 3/8 plywood, so that I could assemble the drawers. I was happy with the appearance of most of the sliding dovetails and all of the joints were solid.

Two things about my wife:

She absconds with my sanding sponges to use in her kitchen,

and she paints drawer bottoms white. She uses exterior latex enamel and she puts on 3 coats. She has always done this. I do not know why.

I have not installed the drawer glides yet so I put the drawers out of the way in the cabinet while I looked for a piece of hardwood to turn into a breadboard.

I think this is a piece of beech but I am not certain. I do not use it very often, but I keep some beech and sycamore around for making kitchen utensils when we need to replace ours. I found the board out of place in my stack of sassafras. It was just under 5/4 so I sawed it up into 4 @ 7/8×3-3/4 pieces to glue up into my breadboard. I used three 5/16 dowels on each joint to help keep things flat.

I felt it needed to match the drawers so I added a thin strip of the ironwood decking lumber to each side bringing it out to full width.

Now I am ready to cut out the rounded pine drawer front for the breadboard, install the drawers, and then I can finish sand/scrape and seal. The current plan is three coats of glossy polyurethane on the top and we have to decide on an oil for the rest, maybe something that will bring out the red in the pine.

Mistakes so far.

I learn by making mistakes and I am always learning. I have made and fixed a few mistakes so far on this project, which is why I chose to do the small cabinet first.

I certainly signed that one! Making the 12th pass when cutting the 3/8 dadoes for the drawer bottoms, I suddenly confused left and right. I could not find the right strip to match the grain and I did not want to make a new side. Since it is the wife’s cabinet, I elected to add some character. Every time I get out the tinfoil, I will be reminded to pay attention to what I am doing!

Of the 12 drawer sides, I installed 11 drawer glides without issue. When I was planing the the last one to exact width, I took too much material. I had to cut little strips and glue them on. When I was planing my repair, I messed up and took too much again, and I had to repeat the process. Ugh!

I put my sliding dovetails too close to the outside edge of the drawer fronts. Somehow, I managed not to break things but I had to be very careful while fitting and assembling. The joints are tight and, now that they are glued, I should be okay but this was poor planning.

While I am happy with what I have, I will most likely employ a different system for joining the drawers on the next project. I am thinking drawer lock and dado lock, or perhaps I will copy the joints on the antique cabinet. I will install them a little differently too. I will use a different material for the drawer glides, I will imbed the hardwood flush, and then cut the dados for the slides.

-- The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. Benjamin Franklin

2 comments so far

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2696 posts in 1669 days

#1 posted 09-23-2015 06:54 AM

Excellent work.
Re; the mistakes />(But first, the sponge. Is your wife some kind of Barbarian or something? Doesn’t she know that sponges belong in the shop?) #1? That “misplaced groove is not a mistake. It’s a design element. #2? I’ve proven time after time that one can indeed put wood back when one has extirpated too much.
And, it wasn’t addressed here as a mistake, but, in my humble opinion as a practitioner of the wooden arts, covering wood with paint is a big mistake. Someone 200 years from now is going to take the notion to refinish this thing and will be very unhappy. Be sure to leave a note that the paint wasn’t your idea.

-- Mark

View fatman51's profile


335 posts in 2442 days

#2 posted 09-23-2015 07:12 AM

LOL! Yes I am married to an animal loving, sanding sponge taking barbarian. Thank you for the encouragement and I quite agree about the paint, that’s why I had to point out that it was not my idea, but, like any train wreck, I also knew the inevitability and that is why I made the bottom panels up out sanded exterior plywood instead of 40 year old clear pine boards. I will tape the note with a date in the cabinet underneath the bottom drawer.

-- The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. Benjamin Franklin

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