Drawer contrast

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Forum topic by Forkston1 posted 02-02-2010 02:54 AM 1293 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 4027 days

02-02-2010 02:54 AM

I’m sure we’ve all seen drawers where the front is stained to match the overall piece while the sides are left natural, really showing off the joinery. How is this done? Are the fronts stained prior to gluing up? If so, does this interfere with glue adhesion?
It seems so common to see this contrast but I just can’t get my head around how its done.

Thanks for all your help!!

-- Jeremy

5 replies so far

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1100 posts in 4098 days

#1 posted 02-02-2010 02:57 AM

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118153 posts in 4544 days

#2 posted 02-02-2010 02:58 AM

Hey Jeremy
Many drawers have false fronts that are screwed or glued or nailed to a drawer so the drawer front is stained on it’s own and the drawer may just have a clear or no finish at all.


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2828 posts in 4252 days

#3 posted 02-02-2010 03:25 PM

Jeremy, There is one other way it’s done. Gerry pretty well covered it if your drawer front is actually the front of your drawer box. You can use a different wood species for the front then the sides and back, or like Jim said about the drawer box being built seperately and a drawer front added to the box (either a different species or stained). If you look at some of the furniture that is manufactured, they just stain the drawer front after it’s assembled. They try to stain a nice line down the dovetail joint and that’s it. Looks fine when the drawer is closed, and not so good when the drawer is opened, but that’s seems to be OK in manufactured furniture. The problem with trying to stain the front before you assemble the drawer is, you can do no sanding after you assemble the drawer or you will be sanding the stain away. It really has a lot to do with the look you’re after. I’ve done it different ways on different pieces. Almost everything now, I build my drawer boxes in solid maple, dovetailed all four corners (finished natural) and do the drawer front seperately in the species that the project is being built in. (finished however I’m doing the rest of the piece). If I’m doing a more traditional piece of furniture, I will not add the drawer front to the drawer box, but will incorporate it as part of the drawer box ( sides and back maple, the front done in the species of the furniture). These are pieces that I finish natural so I don’t worry about the staining problem.

-- John @

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1730 posts in 4035 days

#4 posted 02-02-2010 05:04 PM

My drawers are always made with separate boxes/fronts. The boxes are made from prefinished 1/2” baltic birch, and the fronts are made from whatever species I’m using for the cabs. The drawer boxes get fitted to the cabs, but are removed before going to finish. The fronts are stained/finished with the cabs. The boxes and fronts are joined up at final installation.

For me, it’s all about economy. Since my boxes are prefinished, I eliminate a step in the finishing process. Very few of my customers know (or seem to care) what dovetails are, and none of them have been willing to pay the upcharge for dovetail joinery .

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

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10 posts in 4027 days

#5 posted 02-02-2010 07:18 PM

Thanks for all your responses. Maybe I should have provided more detail. Sorry, I was posting from my iPhone.
I am making a jewelry armoire out of tiger maple for my GF and planed on using an aniline dye for everything except the drawer sides to really show off the dovetail joinery. The drawers I have designed do not have false fronts, just 4 pieces/sides. I had planned on using the tiger maple for everything including the drawer sides but only using the dye on the front portion.
Thanks again for all your help. I have only been a member here for a couple of weeks but have found this site to be one of the top for us wood lovers!

-- Jeremy

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