Building a Dr. White's Chest #4: Face Frame

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 05-03-2013 12:55 PM 3116 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Case Construction and Glue-Up Part 4 of Building a Dr. White's Chest series Part 5: Case Legs »

Complicated Face Frame

The Dr. White’s chest is a combination wardrobe/chest of drawers and has a complicated face frame. There are eight mortise and tenon joints, ten dovetail joints, and one half-lap joint in the frame. I cut the dovetail joints with my Leigh dovetail jig. Watch this video to see how I cut the female portion of the face frame dovetail joints. I cut the male portion of the joint using the same jig in the vertical mode and the bit set at the same depth. NOTE: Chip out is not an issue in the vertical mode.

A sample of each joint.

Close-up of a dovetail joint.

Critical Glue-Up

The front of the chest is the most visible. It pays to strive to makes cuts with close tolerances for these joints and use plenty of clamps for clean glue lines. Watch this video to see how many clamps I used to attach the face frame. NOTE: I glued the mortise and tenon joints the night before, laid down wax paper on the case, and dry-clamped the frame on the case to ensure it was square with the case as the glue for the mortise and tenons set. NOTE: You could certainly use finish nails or even screws to hold the face frame down and get by with a lot less clamps since clamps could be prohibitively expensive. That would mean plugging screw holes or puttying nail holes. (Yet another option would be to borrow extra clamps from a fellow woodworker.)

I cleaned up the mortise and tenon glue lines the next day and then glued this assembly, along with the dovetailed pieces, to the case. I used Liquid Hide glue for this complicated assembly since it has a long working time.

Oversized Strategy

I made the dovetailed pieces oversized by 1/16” in width to ensure that the edges of the poplar drawer frames were covered by cherry. Some of the drawer frames could be off a little in square, have slight bends in them, or pieces could shift during glue-up. This precaution ensures that all we see from the outside is cherry. NOTE: Another way your face frame could become misaligned is if you didn’t cut your dado joints perfectly square in the case side for the drawer frames.

After the glue set, I removed the clamps and used a flush trim router bit to remove the excess cherry from the edges. I used a file to clean up the corners the flush trim bit couldn’t reach.

What’s Next?

In the next blog entry, we’ll explore how to shape and reinforce the legs.

-- Mark, Minnesota

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