Making Drawers, Part 1

I have put off making drawers for the Hope Chest until near the end because I was not confident in my dovetailing skills. I have not had time to hone my skills with many real projects. Actually, this project is only my third with hand cut dovetails. One was a hanging cabinet I made for my mom about eight years ago, one was a gift box for a dear friend and now there is this one. Starting a toolmaking business has slowed down my woodworking aspirations! I made some practice joints before I dove in, but I was still rather nervous. I knew I had only one chance; I did not have any material in reserve. There have been many, many tutorials on dovetailing both in blogs and on videos by experts much more qualified than I am. Therefore, I will just offer up some pictures to show how I went about it. Feel free to ask questions or offer useful suggestions for myself as well as the other readers.

Practice cuts help tune your eye-hand coordination; more is better.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Practice Joints
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Planning the drawer details
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Scribe baseline with marking gauge and layout initial saw cuts with a pencil
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Use a chisel to establish shoulder cuts to help get a crisp joint.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Use rip and cross cut saws to make the initial cuts. Nice finish from Wenzloff Saws!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Cut out waste using a coping saw. I need some more practice (or a better saw!)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Remove waste to baseline with a chisel. Only half way through then flip over.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sawing the front tails
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Front tails
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A little trick I learned from somewhere to help when removing waste for small pin sockets is to add another saw cut in the middle.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Establishing a shoulder using a butt chisel
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I used a board to help keep all my chisel work straight and vertical.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A 1/8 inch dovetail chisel excels here. You need crisp, precise work. A marking knife can be handy at times also.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Use a marking knife to transfer the tails to the pinboard.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sawing the pins
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Chop the waste and then pare to the baseline. Here I am using a butt chisel.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I seemed to have lost some images from the drawer making session so we will skip ahead.  Here you can see the front pin board for the half-blind dovetails. These take some careful chisel work as you cannot cut all the way to the back corners with a saw.  I did over-cut the baseline to make it a little easier to clean up the waste, though I am not sure that I like seeing the saw cuts inside the drawer..  These joints are a lot easier to clean up if you have skew chisels or fishtail chisels to help get into the back corners. I am using a moving fillister plane to cut the groove for the drawer bottom. I have the iron set pretty coarse here; I backed it off a bit after this picture.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That is it for Drawer Making Part 1.  All of the dovetails have been cut and grooves added for the drawer bottoms. I also gave all of the parts a quick cleanup with a handplane where needed and slightly chamfered the edges prior to assembly.

 

Share Button

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Looks like you are in business Monte.

    Reply
  2. David Jeske

    I have tried the rabbet trick and it works slick. Not sure why I didn’t use it here; probably because I do not have a fully functional moving fillister. I have one, but it needs some restoration work like a nicker blade and a fix to the depth stop. As I am getting closer to finishing the hope chest I am planning to re-evaluate my hand tools and get some of my older tools back into working shape.  Might be of some interest to readers too.

    Reply

  3. One trick I picked up, probably from something Christopher Schwarz wrote at some point, is to cut a 1/32″ deep rabbet on the inside face of your tails. You then use this little “step” to help you align your tail-board to your pin-board, ensuring that they’re square and aligned properly before marking your pin locations. (as seen here: http://www.popularwoodworking.com/techniques/joinery/handplanes-and-dovetails)

    Also if you’re looking for a better coping saw, I highly recommend the Knew Concepts 5″ Woodworker Saw. It takes scroll saw blades which are small enough to allow you to make super tight turns and get really close to your scribe lines.

    I learned a couple nice tricks from your photos. Thanks! That center saw cut is so simple it’s genius.

    Reply
  4. David Jeske

    I mis-named it as a moving fillister plane but I believe it is actually called a drawer bottom plane. It is somewhat of a cross between a grooving plane (from a tongue and groove set) and a moving fillister fence system. You can change out the width of the iron like a plougg plane. The fence is adjusted by loosing two screws on the bottom.  The depth is not adjustable but ends when the skate bottoms out. It is a cool little plane.  If anyone knows what else it may be called please leave a comment.

    Reply
  5. John Contract

    Looks great Dave. What type of tool are you using here to cut grooves for drawer bottoms? I have to invest in one of those.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *