|CHAPTER 12, LESSON 3 of 3
GOAL: To learn the steps involved in constructing a handmade solid wood drawer.
A handmade solid wood drawer represents the furniture maker's craft at its best. More than 30 steps are involved, and no other furniture assembly poses more technical and methodological challenges. This lesson will take you through the final five steps; the other steps are covered in Lesson 1 and Lesson 2.
|After you plane both drawer sides down to match the end grain of the dovetail pins (top) comes the final test: closing your handmade drawer with fingertip pressure (bottom).
The final steps in the drawer making process involve "shooting the drawer" and finishing the drawer front. In woodworking parlance, shoot means to "make straight," hence the expressions "shoot the edge" and "shoot the drawer."
29. Plane off excess drawer slip: The drawer slips were made wider than needed so they project below the sides after being glued in place. Now is the time to plane them flush with the bottom edges of the drawer sides. Check that they are aligned by laying a straightedge across both slips.
30. Shoot the drawer: Hold the drawer front in the vise and support the side on a board as wide as the drawer is long, clamped across the benchtop. Plane the side from end to end, checking for straightness as you go. When you've planed both sides down to the end grain of the pins, the entire drawer should enter the case, though the fit may be very tight. Ease the fit a shaving at a time. Working the drawer in and out will burnish any high spots, identifying exactly where a shaving must be removed. Contact surfaces may be lightly rubbed with paraffin wax, then buffed with a tight wad pad until you buff it all off. Don't sand the surfaces and don't wax them with beeswax — it will cause the drawer to stick.
31. Planing the top edge of the drawer to fit the case opening: If, when you made the single-lap joints at the front corners, you didn't align the bottom edges spot on, you can make them flush now and still have some drawer front material to plane to fit. Either way, you now finally fit the front to the opening.
32. Flush the front: Once the drawer enters the case fully and easily, hold the drawer tight in the opening by clamping it in the vise and plane the front so that it's flush with the case edges.
33. Make and glue the stop in place: The drawer stop brings the drawer to rest where you want it — flush, inset or proud; it's your choice. The stop is a small piece of material, sized about 3/16" thick, to allow clearance for the drawer bottom. I position it by setting an adjustable square as a guide, then glue and clamp it in place.
You've reached the end of the drawer-making process — and a new level of woodworking.