Drawer and tray construction

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Various types of drawers are shown in 238. Figure 238:1 is a sectional elevation of an orthodox inset drawer sliding on front drawer rail and side runners; 238:2 an onset drawer which fits under the carcass top but over the side ends, with the drawer rails set back to give a flush front to the carcass; 238:3 a rebated/ rabbeted and moulded drawer front for easy fitting, and 238:4 an inset drawer with set-back front rail allowing the bottom (or top) edge of the drawer front to overhang and act as a pull. In 238:2 the front drawer rails can be dispensed with if necessary, and the drawer hung on side runners; while the rebated front in 238:3 requires no very accurate fitting and no drawer stops, therefore it is widely used where cheapness of production is the main consideration, as in kitchen cabinets, whitewood furniture etc. Alternative methods of construction are also given. Figure 238:5 is the orthodox lap dovetailing to the front and 238:9 through dovetailing to the back; 238:6 a slip or slot dovetail for rebated fronts with either single or double taper as shown; 238:7 a tongued front and 238:8 a star tonguing applicable to quantity production, although it could be done on a small sawbench if the setting out were very accurate. An alternative method of jointing the back with a full thickness housing/dado into the sides is shown in 238:10 which is satisfactory if the housing is really tight, for there is no strain across the width of the drawer to pull the joint apart. Figure 238:14 is the old method of attaching the bottom, where a quadrant drawer slip is glued and pinned to the drawer side thereby increasing the wearing surface, and 238:15 a flush slip instead of quadrant which gives a neater appearance, with 238:10A the modern method of grooving into the sides. In old work the bottom was solid wood, as in 238:14, 15, and the drawer sides kept as fine as possible (5/16 in [8 mm]) but modern sides are up to 1/2 in (12.5 mm) in thickness, and unless the bottom happens to be solid cedar as in 238:14 for moth-proofing, plywood is invariably used which can be glued all round if necessary. Drawer fronts are usually standardized at 3/4 in (19 mm) thick; they can be thicker at 7/8 in (22 mm), but should not be under 3/4 in (19 mm) for good work. In factory production the drawers are made slightly slack in the openings to save labour in fitting, which can be a costly business if individually done. There is, however, nothing to equal a wellmade hand-fitted drawer, for it will continue to slide like silk, giving satisfaction to its owner over many years. A good test is whether the act of shutting one drawer puffs out all the others in the carcass, and although this can be cured very easily by boring a few holes in the back of the carcass to relieve the air pressure, the writer has yet to meet a proud owner who would allow this to be done.

Materials for drawer-work

Drawer fronts can be solid wood, which is preferable, or laminboard or ply, for both can be lap dovetailed if care is taken; particle board is unsuitable. Drawer sides should be in hard good-wearing wood, with Oak the favourite, but teak and prime quality mahogany are good and agba a fair substitute if a pale wood is necessary. Soft hardwoods such as obeche, etc. should not be used, while common pine wears quickly (unless it is very resinous) as old examples show. Backs are usually 1/4 in (6 mm) or 5/16 in (8 mm) thick and can be in any common timber, although here again oak is used in the best work. Solid bottoms can be in English cedar or oak about 5/16 in (8 mm) thick and mulleted into the grooves as in 238:14, but 5/32 in (4 mm) good-quality plywood, preferably limba, oak, gaboon or birch, is usual. The grain of solid bottoms must, of course, run from side to side or shrinkage will pull them out of the side grooves; they can be glued to the front groove

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