Saturday, May 20, 2017

Joiner and Cabinetmaker Chest of Drawers – Part 5

I milled the stock for all of the drawers, and I sharpened all of my tools for dovetailing.  The first step with the drawer parts is to plane a groove on the inside face 3/8 of an inch from the bottom edge.  I used my plow plane with a 1/4 inch wide iron.  It's tricky to adjust the depth of the cutter, and the fence has a tendency not to move back and forth and remain parallel, so I tune it in on a piece of scrap.  I also dialed in the depth stop on the test piece.

Testing out the plow plane settings on a piece of scrap
After that has been done, I use my marking gauge and mark the baselines for all of the tails.  Then I use my shoulder plane to cut a rabbet freehand on the ends of the tailbaords, on the inside face, just like I did on the case.  After that, I set my marking gauge to the new thickness of the tailboards, and scribe the baselines for the pins.

Rabbeting the ends of the tailboard
With the rabbets cut, I can gang cut the tails.  The process is the same as before, but this time the tails will be visible.  There is a half tail at the bottom of the drawers that provides support for the drawer bottom groove.  The back corners have 1/2 tails fewer than the front corners.  I made the rear dovetails wider with larger spaces between them to make the joints at the back go by faster.  The dovetails at the front are going to be visible, so I used narrower spaces between the tails to give it a more aesthetically appealing design.  The drawers are going to get a cherry face applied to them, so I used through dovetails to make this process go by faster.  

Sawing the tails

Removing the waste between the tails with a coping saw
Chiseling to the baseline
I then transfer the dovetails to the ends of the pinboards with a marking knife.  I used a pencil instead of a knife to scribe the square line down from the pin.  I find that if I have to trim the sides of the pins, a knife line traps the chisel in it, even if I want to remove waste before the knife line.  A pencil line gives me the freedom to pare away material right where I need to.  I saw the pins with my dovetail, and cope out the waste, then chisel the rest of the waste to the baseline.

Sawing the pins

Coping out the waste

Chopping to the baseline
After chopping to the baseline, I test fit the joints.  I carve out a bevel on the inside corner of the dovetail to make inserting the dovetail easier, and it also prevents the hard corner from mashing the pins, or the pins from crushing the corner of the tail.  Even though half of the pinboard's faces will be covered by the drawer face application, it is a good practice.

Carving out a bevel on the tailbaord
Since there were five drawers to make, I got into a rhythm and cut one drawer about every two hours. Gang cutting the tails makes the process much more efficient.  If I was to guess, I would say sawing the tails goes by in half the time than if I sawed each tailboard individually, especially since I gang coped out the waste between the tails. My sawing was warmed up, and I sawed as close to the knife lines as I could, and I sawed each cut plumb, so all of my dovetails came together with no extra fitting.  Before gluing the drawers together, I smooth planed the inside faces of the drawers, and cut off the bottom edge of the drawer backs, and I used the groove as a guide for planing away the saw marks.  
Smooth planing the inside face of the drawers

Gluing the drawers with hide glue

The next day, I fit the drawers into their openings.  First, I planed the bottom edges around the drawers to be coplanar, then the top edges.  I planed the drawer sides until the drawer fit into its opening.  Since three of the drawer fronts are longer than my bench is tall, I had to get creative with securing it to my bench for planing.  I resolved to use two holdfasts in the bench's leg, and a clamp across the benchtop.  Having a bench with legs flush to the top's edge is very important for things like this.  I definitely recommend for those looking for a new bench to build their own.

Planing the bottom edge of the drawers
Planing the drawer sides  
Usually one corner of the drawer was proud of the drawer's opening.  I scribed a line around the drawer with a marking knife to guide my plane when I planed the faces flush.
Scribing around the drawer

Planing the drawer front flush

Five completed drawers


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