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Roubo Cabinet #12: Drawer Faces

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 1140 days ago 1978 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: Carcase Glue-Up Part 12 of Roubo Cabinet series Part 13: Drawers Sides, The Big Drawer »

The material for four of the drawer fronts had been identified and set aside when the dimensions of each drawer were pretty much set. Each of those came from the aprons of the donor table, looked quite scruffy, but cleaned up well on the face side. I did have to do some filler work on the insides of these pieces because of how they were ‘purposed’ on the Donor Table, specifically I cut blocks out of scrap walnut to fill cavities towards the bottom of each of two drawers so my drawer bottoms would have solid material to run through around the entire drawer. Didn’t have to do a necessarily pretty job, so I didn’t… I save extra effort for show sides / don’t mind building in ‘character’ for others to find and ponder over in the way off future… And while patching up boards for use seems already like a pain in the arse, it’s what must be done sometimes when used stuff is re-used.

Two pics of Operation #1 – rough fitting then trimmed up:

And two of Operation #2, same thing only repeated:

Of course, it’s obvious that there’s nothing set aside for The Big Drawer, the right-most opening, and there are a couple of reasons for that. First and foremost, the Donor Table is gone / used up / totally consumed and there’s no solid material left for a larger drawer front. I have scavenged enough for a frame, though. Second, a solid wood front of that size probably wouldn’t be a good idea anyway; too much stress / likely to crack over time or, even worse, warp and not fit square or flush. So it has to be a frame and panel job, and material is needed for the panel / insert.

Tried my hand at re-sawing some walnut scrap not big enough for frame material; etched a starter line at the table saw and then went at it with the bandsaw. That didn’t work. Then free-hand, and that didn’t work either. Face it, I suck at re-sawing; it’s something that I need to improve on / buy the proper blade for, definitely, but not in the face of necessity. I need to keep viewing the posts of LJers that do this well, and learn more.

If push comes to shove, I can thickness easily with handplanes on a job this small, and pretty quickly too, so that’s an option. Wouldn’t run shorts like this through planer; that’d be silly. Looking at the inside of the door on the Traditional Bench in the shop, the floating panel is flush with the frame (it’s recessed on the public side). I’ve seen that before, but in context of my Big Drawer problem it’s something I’d like on the show side of the drawer, I think. Beefier material to mount a pull to and it means no more thicknessing of material down to less than 1/2”. Ahh, working around our limitations is a very good thing sometimes! Grin! Thicker material means I can use the #48 to create the tongue that allows the face to ride flush with the front, if you know what I mean… Coming together!

I mentally put these issues aside and worked other things with the cabinet, specifically blog entries #s 4 through #11. I did plane up the faces of the drawer fronts I had and cut them to rough size at one point, likely to get them out of the way. Here’s a pick of the first four drawer fronts just sticking into the cabinet (as seen in the Most Previous Episode of this Blog Series):

UPDATE: The Big Drawer is to the right in the above pic.

Once all other progress had come to a stand-still, pending drawer fronts, it was time to address The Big Drawer problem. The good news is, things fell in place. How? Long story short, I collect my cut-offs and send them over to a buddy who uses his back-yard fire pit a lot. He gets good, dry wood and I like that someone gets one last benefit out of the stuff I’m (finally) able to part with as unusable. Well, in doing cleanup for a fire pit re-stock I ran across a couple of long, narrow pieces of walnut left over from the panel cutting exercise that could be cross cut and glued up to panel size. Huzzah! Game on!

I laid out the frame pieces I’d already set aside, jointed them and did the now-familiar T&G work. The first picture below shows a nice groove worked into one of the rails. The second was taken while cutting a short tongue, and clearly shows how you know your #48 needs re-honing.

So after some sharpening action on both #48 cutters, I was able to complete the frame without much effort at all; you’ve seen frame work on the backpanel anyway. So, it was on to the actual inset panel. And Oh, such a Wee Little Panel it seemed to be, having worked on the cabinet panels earlier in the project. Jointed the edges, glued them up,

and clamped everything .

With the glue dry and clamps removed, I smoothed the face ‘real nice.’

Once it was sized up (and yes, this went without problem on all four sides this time, unlike the debacle w/ the floating backpanel) I used the still-freshly-sharpened tongue and groove plane (sharp = good) to ready it for fitting.

The frame was dbl-checked for square, floating panel put in place, then glued up and clamped.

After the glue up and cure times had passed, I dressed the frame a bit. Looking good!

How ‘bout a picture of the backside? Sure can tell how this thing came to be!

And the cabinet, under the bench, with drawer fronts set in place, ready for half-blind dovetails for the sides!

As always, thanks for looking!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive



17 comments so far

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1220 days


#1 posted 1140 days ago

Smitty, it is coming along nicely. I have to admit that I was confused throughout, simply because I thought the ‘Big Drawer’ was actually the bottom drawer and there is clearly wood alotted. I see now that I assumed wrong. Yet, that begs the question -Are you really making a drawer or a cabinet door?

How are your drawer fronts staying put? Do you have a rabbet around the back so they fit in?

How did you deal with that tear out?

What is your plan for a finish? Just curious.

Still enjoying following along.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View Dave's profile

Dave

11142 posts in 1437 days


#2 posted 1140 days ago

WOW that is one great build. Your craftsmanship is wonderful. And a very detailed blog. Great stuff Smitty. I have enjoyed it very much. How about you let me hold that Stanley for a little while?

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9576 posts in 1216 days


#3 posted 1140 days ago

@lysdexic – Sorry it was confusing, I’ve put an UPDATE in the text above so it’s clearer for others from this point… The Big Drawer is indeed the one on the right, full height to the cabinet, and will be a drawer rather than a door. Crouching down and reaching to the back of a cabinet isn’t as preferred as reaching down to a drawer that’s pulled out. That’s the thought, anyway. It’s planned as the place for my #45 combo plane, with all parts. It’s currently sitting on a shelf, far from the main work area, and that drives me nuts.

With The Big Drawer handling the #45, and the two upper Small Drawers holding chisels, I’m thinking maybe C-clamps, screwdrivers, bench stops, etc. for the larger, mid-sized pair of drawers. Maybe even a block plane or two. Lots of room about to become available, I just haven’t gotten that far in the thought process re: filling them up. I’m sure it’ll happen soon enough, though. :-)

In the pics, the drawer fronts are staying put because they’re not trimmed for final fit. All edges and faces are hand-tooled, therefore not perfect / precise; setting them in place for a pic or two isn’t a big deal, and I’ve left them just slightly big (they won’t slide into their opening and get totally flush at the surface, for example). Once I have the sides, backs and bottoms done, I’ll plane all inside surfaces and face edges to fit and slide nicely. At least that’s the plan.

Funny thing, tear out w/ a #48. I’m thinking, Man, this stuff isn’t going well, even with wax. Then it hit me that I hadn’t done time at the sharpening station for awhile… After the picture was taken, I did the honing and ran another couple of passes on the tongue edge to clean it up. Luckily, all of the split wood was on the ‘donor piece’ that was clamped alongside for just such a purpose when planing end grain.

Finish at this point is likely to be Watkins, like my bench. That will bring out the color of the walnut, can be reapplied, is easy, etc. etc. I’m open to suggestions, but don’t have sprayer and shellac has not been my friend…

@Super – Sure, you can handle the #48 anytime! :-) And I’m glad you like the build / pics / blog. It’s nearly complete, and has been fun to do!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3299 posts in 1252 days


#4 posted 1137 days ago

This is a great build. Seeing the shavings you made in all that walnut got me back on track on one of my projects (actually two), thanks.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9576 posts in 1216 days


#5 posted 1137 days ago

@RG – It’s hard sometimes to stay in motion with some of these long builds, ain’t it! Right now I’m making the drawers for this build and it’s going real slow… four drawer side boards dovetailed, six to go, and then the backs and bottoms. I’m beginning to realize the best part of making drawers is getting them done! :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3299 posts in 1252 days


#6 posted 1136 days ago

My favorite part is fitting the bottoms. (which also means I am close to done)

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9576 posts in 1216 days


#7 posted 1136 days ago

@RG – you think 1/8” masonite is thick enough material for the ‘gang of four’ drawer bottoms? I’d go thicker for the Big Drawer…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3299 posts in 1252 days


#8 posted 1135 days ago

If these were small I would say yes but these are fairly big drawers that are going to hold heavy steal. Do you have any wide poplar sitting around? Trust me, a solid wood drawer bottom is worth the extra effort. 3/8th to a 1/2 thick bottom beveled to fit into a 3/16th or 1/4 inch groove will be beefy enough that someone will appreciate the drawer look at the drawer long after you are gone.

1/4 is the thinnest I would go if I was using good hardboard, but I don’t use it anymore.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9576 posts in 1216 days


#9 posted 1135 days ago

sigh…

Now I’m going to have to think on your points.

Solid wood = some instability over masonite. And more work on what should be the downhill run on this build. But your ‘beefy’ comment has appeal. For solid, I’d glue up the 1/2”x3” material I used for the backpanel insert to make bottoms. And then it’s possible that only solid wood is required on The Big Drawer. It’s got the #45. Maybe too the larger pair of drawers. Urg. Decisions, decisions…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3299 posts in 1252 days


#10 posted 1134 days ago

Sorry to throw a wrench in your works. But honestly you have put so much work into the the other components of the build it would be a shame not do solid bottoms, you will appreciate them more.

And the bevels are an interesting challenge for your hand planes (when you figure out how to make the cross grain cuts smoothly I guarantee you will pat yourself on the back).

Have you started the joinery at all on the drawers? If so you are kind of committed to your original plan because there are definitely some design considerations when it comes to solid bottoms (think about the bevels)

If you have not done any joinery, cut your grooves in the drawers first (trust me on this) and size the back of the drawer so it just touches to the top of the groove (not like the picture above), that way you can secure the drawer with one screw (on a solid drawer you oversize the hole to allow for movement). If you put the groove in a location that it will fit the solid wood, then you can use the hardboard for now until you get a chance to get some nice wide stock for your drawer bottoms…a nice compromise, alder and poplar are the best species I know for this task, but any soft relatively stiff wood will do.

As far as instability goes, if you wanted to work a perfectly sound material you would be on the Metaljocks site; wood moves, get over it (thanks Tom Fidgen for that bit of needed wisdom).

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9576 posts in 1216 days


#11 posted 1134 days ago

@RG – Hey, if I wasn’t ready for tough input, I wouldn’t have asked. Your points are great.

Yes, I have done the sides to the two middle drawers already so it’s too late to pre-groove those. But then, if I had pre-grooved, they wouldn’t be in the right place for solid bottoms so I’ll take it as a good thing.

Agree on the drawer back being single screw solution. I’ve done drawers up to this point that were total floats because they were masonite / stable. So solid + screw is new and I’m up for it.

I’ll see what I can find for wider stock.

Finally, nice bevel work in the pics above! Well done, thanks for sharing.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

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RGtools

3299 posts in 1252 days


#12 posted 1133 days ago

I wasn’t too worried about offending. But I know what it’s like to have someone mid project go “oh yeah you should…” and throw a rock into your brain-pan. I had this happen with my workbench and my sawbench when I read things that Christopher Schwarz wrote mid-project, I was eventually happy for the advice but, I could not help but mutterings something along the lines of “son of a…”

Thanks for the compliment. I do ok but here is a really fine example of what the bottom should look like.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1220 days


#13 posted 1102 days ago

Sorry to back track on this blog but let me ask a question out of pure ignorance. Can you not use 1/2” Baltic birch plywood and bevel it down to fit a 1/4” groove for a drawer bottom. This seems like a good compromise.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9576 posts in 1216 days


#14 posted 1102 days ago

No problem on backtracking! I’m on the last two drawers, the smallesf ones at the top, and those I’m wanting to use a wood bottom panel instead of masonite / hardboard…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1220 days


#15 posted 1102 days ago

Still, does the plywood plan work? Are you going to use solid wood?

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

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