Friday, May 5, 2017

Joiner and Cabinetmaker Chest of Drawers – Part 4

The next step for the Chest of Drawers was initially going to be the back, but I decided to make the drawers divisions sit in blind dadoes, so the drawer divisions had to come before the back was put in. I cut the rabbets on the case sides before any layout was done for the dadoes.  I used my shoulder plane to cut the wide, deep rabbet, and worked my way down to the scribe line.

Cutting the rabbet with a shoulder plane

I marked out one wall of the dado, then put the edge of the drawer divider up to that line, and marked for the other wall.  I can't use a fractional measurement because I dimensioned the stock by hand, so it did not come out to exactly the thickness I was shooting for, nor were the two faces perfectly parallel.  I used chisels to do the coarsest excavation of the waste, and established a consistent depth with the router plane. 

Using the router plane to cut the dados to a consistent depth

I then turned my attention to the joinery for the drawer divisions.  I used web frame dividers, and the drawer runners are mortise and tenoned into the dividers.  Since there is a dovetailed partition between the top drawer frame, the drawer runner in the center of the top drawer runner has a split tenon to go around the dovetail's socket, not through it.  The mortise was too short in length to chop it out all by hand, and still be able to efficiently excavate the waste, so I chucked a 1/4 inch auger into my brace, and bored out the mortise and finished up the walls with chisels.  

Boring the mortises with the brace

Squaring the mortise with a mortise chisel

The other drawer runners are joined with a joint similar to a mortise and tenon joint, but one wall of the mortise is free.  This makes chopping out the other six mortises much quicker.

Chopping the mortises on either end of the drawer divisions

Then I cut the tenons with my tenon saw, and cut the cheeks off with the flush cut saw and a guide block, just like I did for the tenons joining the top rails.

Sawing tenon cheeks

Once the mortise and tenons had been cut and fit, I glued the web frames together overnight.  The next day, I cut the slot dovetails for the dovetailed partition.  The dado is 1/8 inch deep, and serves mainly to capture the partition, and prevent it from racking.  The dovetail is only 5/8 inches deep, so it does not provide very much resistance to sideways stress.  I define the walls of the dado with a knife, and excavate the waste coarsely with a chisel, and establish the final depth with a router plane.

Roughing in the slot dovetail's dado with a wide chisel

Establishing the final depth with the router plane

After the dado is cut, I mill a small strip of wood that is as thick as the dado is deep. This is so that I can use one marking gauge setting to scribe the bottom of the dovetail socket, and the baseline for the dovetail because I can put the strip of wood on the end of the tailboard when I scribe the baseline for the dovetail. I have found that this is much more accurate than measuring the depth of the dovetail socket minus the depth of the dado.

The thin strip of wood is as thick as the dado is deep

scribing the depth of the dovetail socket

Scribing the dovetail's baseline using the strip of wood as a spacer

After the baseline has been scribed, I cut off the dovetail's shoulder, and pare away the waste to the baseline.

Sawing the depth of the dovetail

Sawing the shoulder of the dovetail

Paring to the baseline 

After the shoulder has been established, I mark out the slope of the dovetail, and saw the tail, and remove the waste.
Sawing the dovetail's sloped sides

Sometimes a little bit of paring has to be done to the slope of the tail, so I clean up the tails if I have to, then slide the tailboard into the dado, clamp it in place, and use a pencil to transfer the marks onto the dividers.  I use a pencil, because very little of the divider's edge will be planed away, so the knife line will most likely be left behind, and it will make it look like there are gaps in the dovetail.

Marking the dovetail onto the drawer divisions

I then square line into the dado, and saw the walls of the dovetail socket.  I pare away the waste with a chisel, but tilt the chisel towards the dovetail's slope, to help prevent any waster from bruising the corner of the socket.
Sawing the dovetail socket

Chiseling out the waste at an angle to prevent break out on the corner

I try to saw as close to the pencil line as I can without removing it.  It is difficult to trim the dovetail joint without cutting against the grain.  When a slot dovetail is assembled, the cross grain orientation of the joint means that there is little compression in the joint if there is any fat preventing a good fit.  Usually what happens instead is the fragile corners of the dovetail socket crack or break off, and this can also happen when disassembling the joint, so I try my best not to force the joint.

Dry fitting the slot dovetail partition. The pencil line on the left
of the tail looks like a gap, but will get planed away later

There is a specific order in which the divisions and the partition must be assembled and glued together.  First the case's four sides must be glued together, and then the case's edges must be planed around to make sure they are all coplanar.  After that, the divisions can be glued in, and after the glue has cured, the high edges can be planed down to the same level of the case's edges.  This ensures the drawers' fronts will be flush with the case's edge and the drawers divisions.  After the divisions have been flushed to the edges, the dovetail can be inserted, with glue if the fit is any bit sloppy, but it's not one-hundred-percent necessary.  After the dovetail has been fit, it can be flushed to the divider's edges.

Making the edges of the case coplanar

Gluing in the drawer divider, with the dovetailed partition slipped in dry to make
sure the divisions are glued in the way they will set when everything is assembled.


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