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squaring a drawer

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Forum topic by Pabs posted 05-25-2020 04:06 AM 724 views 0 times favorited 38 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Pabs

301 posts in 4224 days


05-25-2020 04:06 AM

hey all

Working on a project that is driving me nuts, every single aspect of it has triggered some sort of issue!
anyway, I’m trying to finish a set of drawers but having a hard time with square. so this drawer is a24 inches wide by 11 deep. the box is made from russian birch ply (1/2 inch) and I use box joints. I measured the boards a million times. I lined up both matching pieces and compared length from the inside of the fingers (just in case I would have cut some deeper that others). anyway, after countless checking they are of exact same length. when I get it together dry and it’s square. as soon as I start to clamp I can’t keep it square. Not sure what I’m missing but it’s driving me insane. any tips on how to make sure this stays square when I clamp it?

-- Pabs


38 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8906 posts in 3347 days


#1 posted 05-25-2020 04:14 AM

https://www.lumberjocks.com/topics/309354

Check your diagonals with “pinch sticks” or accurately with an inside folding ruler and when both
diagonals are the same you are square.

You’ll get it.

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Pabs

301 posts in 4224 days


#2 posted 05-25-2020 04:22 AM



https://www.lumberjocks.com/topics/309354

Check your diagonals with “pinch sticks” or accurately with an inside folding ruler and when both
diagonals are the same you are square.

You ll get it.

- waho6o9

diagonal are fine before I clamp…once I start it goes out of square. that’s where I’m having issues

-- Pabs

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Rich

5608 posts in 1359 days


#3 posted 05-25-2020 04:32 AM


diagonal are fine before I clamp…once I start it goes out of square. that s where I m having issues

- Pabs

Then put a clamp across the corners that are measuring longer. Pull it back to square.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Aj2

3075 posts in 2568 days


#4 posted 05-25-2020 04:33 AM

Drawers can be very challenging. A twist or out of square shape with a twist is not what we want.
So when assembling a drawer it should be done with care just enough pressure to bring the joints closed.
If it takes a heavy clamping pressure your joints are too tight.

Good Luck

-- Aj

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waho6o9

8906 posts in 3347 days


#5 posted 05-25-2020 05:00 AM

“diagonal are fine before I clamp…once I start it goes out of square. that’s where I’m having issues”

Maybe the PVC clamp can apply equal pressure and keep things square.

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pintodeluxe

6150 posts in 3583 days


#6 posted 05-25-2020 05:06 AM

I agree with Rich. My drawer clamping setup uses clamps in one direction for dovetail joints. Since you’re using box joints, you’ll need clamps in two directions.

Then measure diagonally and use one deep parallel clamp on the long diagonal. Turn the clamp handle very slightly and re-measure.
If you go too far, just put the clamp on the other diagonal.

When clamping drawers, just use enough force to close the joints, no more.

Good luck!

P.S. I just built three dovetail drawers and when cutting the pins with a straight bit… The bit slipped in the router collet and started cutting deeper. The result was drawers that were out of square, so I feel your pain.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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Rich

5608 posts in 1359 days


#7 posted 05-25-2020 05:45 AM

For drawer boxes, I do things differently. Bear with me.

First, I like to use hot hide glue for my glue ups. It’s more forgiving should anything go wrong. Second, I use a flat panel (melamine) with two right angle fences so it (the drawer side and front) starts flat and square. Finally, I use clamping squares so the first joint is perfect. After that, it all comes together effortlessly.

Using hide glue means you can unclamp the initial joint after just a few minutes so the overall glue up time is pretty short.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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AlaskaGuy

5794 posts in 3079 days


#8 posted 05-25-2020 07:21 AM


https://www.lumberjocks.com/topics/309354

Check your diagonals with “pinch sticks” or accurately with an inside folding ruler and when both
diagonals are the same you are square.

You ll get it.

- waho6o9

I have somewhat of a disclaimer. The PVC and band clamp. I have only done 4 small boxes using this method. Never used it on a big drawer. No real track record at this point.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

1111 posts in 1873 days


#9 posted 05-25-2020 02:27 PM

You did good by checking with a dry fit prior to glue up. Now that you are sure that everything is the proper size, proceed with your glue up clamping by what ever means you have available. Once all clamps are in place, check the diagonals carefully. If they are not equal, loop some non-stretchy twine across the long diagonal. Tie the twine to the clamps or to some projection you have added for the purpose. Slip a stick between the loops and twist the loops until the two diagonals are equal. Leave it in place until the glue is dry. Hint: make your twist stick long enough so that when you have the twine twisted just right, you can slide the stick out far enough so that the long end will rest on part of the drawer box or table top to keep it from untwisting until the glue is dry.

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LeeRoyMan

1179 posts in 497 days


#10 posted 05-25-2020 02:34 PM

I made a dedicated drawer clamp.

-- I only know what I know, nothing less, nothing more -- That doesn't count what I used to know..

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6234 posts in 3263 days


#11 posted 05-25-2020 05:30 PM

I use something that works like what LeeRoy shows but mine isn’t nearly as sophisticated…..usually just a couple of cleats to clamp the drawer against. Just be aware the drawer may need to be clamped flat as well.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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AMZ

107 posts in 159 days


#12 posted 05-25-2020 05:34 PM

Nice jig, Leroy! I will copy before my next drawer/box build!

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

1489 posts in 2722 days


#13 posted 05-25-2020 05:55 PM

Nice jig. However, the OP is using box joints which undoubtedly stand a little proud of the surface at the corners. He could make a similar jig with the appropriate spacers to allow relief for the fingers.

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Pabs

301 posts in 4224 days


#14 posted 05-25-2020 09:08 PM

I’ll try wth diagonal clamp to see if I can’t tweak that way…related question, what is acceptable in out of squareness? when measuring the diagonals (diagonal are around 24 inches long)

-- Pabs

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Rich

5608 posts in 1359 days


#15 posted 05-25-2020 09:19 PM


related question, what is acceptable in out of squareness? when measuring the diagonals (diagonal are around 24 inches long)

- Pabs

Zero is ideal of course, but anything down around 1/16” is fine. Just my opinion.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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