002: a rolling base for my planer #3: at last, a drawer

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 05-21-2009 02:07 PM 3922 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: flush sanding, a drawer, and a nice big mistake Part 3 of 002: a rolling base for my planer series Part 4: stain tests, and drawer stops »

I have to say, posting projects as I do them does two things. I puts the pressure on me to not screw up, after getting great comments from you folks about how to proceed through difficult parts. I sure don’t want to come back and say “Thanks for all the suggestions, but oh well! I shattered the entire thing in a big kickback!” It also really drives me to keep working when I might otherwise say “Meh, I’ll finish that part tomorrow, or this weekend.” So thanks, and I’m going to keep forcing myself to post as I go, instead of just posting a project when [eventually] completed.

Anyway, I SCREWED UP AGAIN. My plan was to rout with my laminate trimmer 1/2” off one side of the long walls, both sizing them properly, and removing that one short wall, which was rabbet jointed and glued tightly in place. Here’s how that looked, with a big pattern bit, and a slab of jointed red oak clamped on as the guide:

trimming one wall of long drawer free with laminate trimmer and pattern bit

Note the dark brown of the hardboard floor peeking out of its groove after the first cut. There’s a sliver of the horizontal board left here from in the rabbet of the vertical, so I reset the depth and cut again. The vertical here is unimportant – it’s the short side I’m cutting through to remove it, and I’ll make another of that one soon. The red oak is set to allow me to cut 1/2” off the end here, shortening the long board (horizontal) in the process to the correct length:

routed drawer in progress

Here’s the other side before the cut. I’m cutting deep enough to cut right through the rabbet joint entirely, and it’s also cutting the horizontal ply back flush with the edge of the red oak guide board:

set up for routing

And here’s the drawer, shortened 1/2”, ready for another short side panel to be made and slotted back in. The cut off board, now too short after routing, and no longer having its rabbets is on the saw table behind it. I had to bang it free with the plastic hammer, as some glue got in the grooves at the corners from the side wall glue-up:

1/2 inch narrower drawer, with side removed

I had to bang the other side free with a hammer, too, and some of the hardboard tore out at the corners from the glue-up glue, which seeped into the grooves at the corners earlier. I chiseled those fragments out, and you could barely see the damage to the hardboard corners:

freed hardboard drawer floor

I pretty quickly made a new piece. The Rockler Digital Height Gauge made setting 1/4” depths from the table, and from my miter sled very easy, so I could pretty rapidly run the new rabbets, and the shelf bottom groove. Here’s the shorter drawer frame, the old and new side panels, and the 1/2” shorter hardboard floor panel – I cut off the routed corners in that move:

ready for a new glue-up

New glue-up, of just the repaired side. That is an entirely new (and lighter in color) piece of hardboard, and after the pic, it will become clear why I had to track down another piece of stock and cut a new floor panel:

newly glued-up drawer

If you’re sharper than me, you saw the error through all of that. By routing 1/2” off from the end of the drawer, I was cutting through the side panel. That side panel doesn’t count in the shortening of the drawer’s width. If that doesn’t make sense, imagine it was a simple butt joint – long panel terminating right against the edge of the short panel. If the panels were 1/2” thick, and I routed 1/2” off the end to cut through the glue-up, I simply routed that board away, but didn’t change the long panel at all. If I now glue on another 1/2” panel, it’s the same drawer again.

The only thing making this not an entirely useless redo effort was that rabbet. It was 1/4” deep. The ply boards are about 1/2” thick. That means with my 1/2” cut, I removed the 1/4” left over – the lip of the rabbet – and then the 1/4” tucked into the rabbet of the long board. Long story short, I only removed 1/4” from the length of the long boards with this operation, instead of the 1/2” I needed. To remedy it when I realized later – after the new glue-up, of course :( – I simply routed in 1/8” grooves at the bottom for the shelf slides, and let them be sunk in overall by that extra 1/4”. This still required some fussing around. I got a bit fancy, and didn’t rout all the way to the ends, and chiseled sharp corners, and chiseled out the ramp at the end of the slide, which helps the drawer ‘sink’ to closed. I ended up putting a single #6 washer under the slides on the sides of the drawer, with the mounting screws going through them, as 1/8” was apparently just a hair too deep, and the slides weren’t sliding well on the tracks in the cabinet.

Too, I mounted the slides too low, so the drawer was scraping the bottom of the face frame. I remounted them a bit higher. Then the high walls of the drawer made it very difficult to tip the drawer down and up to get the wheels over each other on the slide members. I had to force it each time I put the drawer back in. You name the error, I probably made it :) I’m a real novice at drawer work yet, and always cringe when I get to that part.

I kept fighting it for a couple of hours, and finally got something pretty reasonable, reminiscent of a proper drawer. It’s very slightly rough-moving, but this is a very low-traffic drawer – a good ‘practice’ drawer – meant for very occasional use when I need replacement blades for something. I cared more about the aesthetics at this point, so I set to work on face, previously cut to fit perfectly in place, with little clearance. With all my screw-ups, I imagined this would be a very risky undertaking.

clamping drawer front to drawer while glue dries

In my first attempt, I used various layerings of some very thick Gorilla Tape as shims (seen in photo above) to center the panel inside the face frame, smeared some glue on the back of the panel, pushed it in against the closed drawer through the face frame, and put a couple clamps on it. This failed miserably. The glue didn’t make contact. I wiped it all up, and switched to double-sided foam tape, the only other sticky thing I had around that might work. It stuck like a champ, and I could pull the drawer open and push it closed with perfect clearance.

I carefully removed the contraption, marked and drilled some tapered holes through from the back, and hand-screwed in some #10×1” screws:

screws holding on drawer front

Somehow, this worked out perfectly. It slides in rather cleanly now:

drawer completed, and recessed a bit

I was going to have it like that, and mounted the slides back a bit just for this effect, which I thought would add visual interest, but the more I thought about this being used under a planer, in a shop where I’m always blowing sawdust off table tops, I realized the face frame was just going to collect piles of sawdust, and this will annoy me all the time. I’m going to add stops to make it a flush fit, like this:

flush-fit drawer

Once the stops are in – and I’m going to make them such that the entire drawer is a hair proud of the face frame – I’ll sand the frame and drawer panel perfectly flush with each other. This will also remove a small bow on the front panel. The sides curl out just a bit beyond the middle.

And here it is open. Though the tracks are just a little rough, the drawer front slips into its extremely narrow clearance (about 1/32” on all sides) pretty perfectly. I did not expect that, though I will tell visitors to the shop that of course I did:

a drawer

Next up, all that other crap I mentioned, then I have to decide on a handle, and if/how I want to finish it. I’m kind of thinking of using 2 contrasting stains that work well on poplar, and just doing the outside, and the drawer front’s front and sides. Maybe a light outer stain, and a dark drawer front? I’m scared. I have terrible luck with stain, even when I follow all directions to the letter (prestain, sanding, coats, sealer, etc). If I stain, I will having at more of the scraps first, to make sure I know what I’m getting.

I’m probably going to regret this nearly non-existent clearance if the board swells at all! It’s a tad bit more than it appears in this shot, though. I can always sand the edges down a touch.

little clearance around inset drawer front

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

6 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8654 posts in 5100 days

#1 posted 05-21-2009 03:05 PM

At least you get lots of practice clamping drawers… right?

end results – looks good, and you have a few more points you’ll know better next time around (or the one after)

another good thing with you posting these posts – it makes the rest of us want to catch up and post more as well…. now if only I had actual shop time to be able to post anything….lol

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 5179 days

#2 posted 05-21-2009 03:34 PM

don’t feel bad about the mistakes either Gary. I’ve gota a daughter going on 3 months old soon and last weekend I was cutting apart the headboard/footboard for the crib I’m building because I mismeasured and they were too wide by about an inch on both sides. When I took the panels out, I had glue on them too and split them when a tapped them apart. hopefully some real progress will be made this weekend. I figure I have about 2 more weeks before she is too big for her current sleeping arrangements.

View spanky46's profile


995 posts in 4842 days

#3 posted 05-21-2009 03:49 PM

We all make mistakes! Its how we handle it that counts! The other thing is if your not building anything you can’t make a mistake! I make my share and that’s called experience, good or bad!
Nice recovery Gary.

-- spanky46 -- Never enough clamps...Never enough tools...Never enough time.

View dalec's profile


612 posts in 5340 days

#4 posted 05-21-2009 04:05 PM


I have made similar errors with my first projects and likely will continue to do so, helpfully with less frequency in the future. I appreciate you sharing your error and your fix so we novices can all learn.


View lew's profile


13532 posts in 5207 days

#5 posted 05-21-2009 05:19 PM

Remind me to tell you about the time I made a china closet- in the basement- with no exit to the outside- it is not a pretty story!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5028 days

#6 posted 05-21-2009 05:45 PM

Fixing mistakes is part of the learning curve in woodworking


Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics