The Roubo Cabinet has been in work now since March. Weather is incredibly oppressive this month, with temps in Southern Illinois routinely in the mid-90s. And the humidity? As I’m fond of saying, “At least it’s a wet heat…” My shop is not climate controlled so going inside to work lately means sweat to the point of dripping within the first 5 minutes. I wipe down tools a lot, and myself too. Yuck. But this project is still in OPEN status, so turn on the squirrel fan, turn up the radio and let’s get cranking.
This Cabinet consists of five drawers: a Small Pair of drawers at the top; two Wide drawers under the Small Pair; and a single Big Drawer at the right side of the other four. Here’s the original sketch as a reminder:
Lucky Part 13 of this series left off with the completion of sides to the Big Drawer, no back or bottom or glue up. The process I’m using to complete drawer backs and bottoms has been consistent across three of the drawers so far; I’m using half blind dovetails to join all sides to drawer fronts and simple dados in the sides hold the drawer backs in place. The drawer bottoms slide into 1/8” dados and surrounded on all four sides because the bottoms (so far) have been salvaged Masonite / hardboard.
The drawer sides are all made from reclaimed pine built-ins along an entire wall in a house getting renovated in a town nearby. I was fortunate to be able to pull these cabinets out before the owner took a crowbar to the works and make it all dumpster material. Here’s a pic of the built-ins (the Roubo Cabinet drawer sides all come from the sides of the three very-high-up drawers in the center of the picture):
The simple way to set the height of the drawer sides was to set the rip fence of the table saw per the drawer fronts. I cut four sides and two backs for the Wide Drawers, then reset the fence and cut the same numbers for the Small Pair of drawers. The saw is turned off – just setting the fence!
All drawer side and drawer front pieces were marked for work.
Each piece got bottom markings as well as location marks to tell me which pieces went to which opening in the cabinet, then I clamped up matching pairs of sides and marked / cut the dovetails. Because the pine was quite splintery when I worked up the Big Drawer, I went to my modern Stanley Gent’s Dovetail Saw to make the cuts for the Gang of Four.
Once the tails were transferred to the drawer fronts, I made those cuts then chopped out the waste.
With a little bit of paring on the pin boards (my baselines typically need a little bit of work from front to back to get them nice and flat, but the tails are ‘straight off the saw’), I was able to get everything looking pretty good. And note in these pictures that the Wide Pair feature half-tails while the Small Pair get half-pins. Why? Just because I saw an episode of the Woodwright’s Shop where Roy recreated a toolbox with half-tails; he had a great time trying to figure out why the original builder would do it that way and I wanted to put some variation in my build so that someday, someone might try to ‘figure out’ why I did it that way, too… Silly, right?
With the sides-to-fronts joinery complete, time to get groovy (for the bottoms). For the sides I was able to use the #45 with 1/8” cutter:
For the fronts, I used my shaper because of the need for stopped cuts (plow planes don’t do that very well…)
All of the drawer side pieces ran long, meaning a ‘final’ cut to length was needed. A necessary first step was to plane each of them to fit height-wise with a #4 Smoother (recall that the carcase is solid wood, front to back, and the inside surfaces aren’t finished surfaces). I then marked each and used a combination square to transfer the cutline to the back of each board. Did the cuts on the bench hook with a 14” sash saw.
I say ‘final’ in quotes because I expect to do one more cut to set each drawer just so when I get to final finish work.
So at this point I’d typically end the post with a nice pic of the work as it it sits… Well, this ain’t gonna be a typical post. Right now, as I’m typing this, the Cabinet is at a mixed level of completion and I want to clean up my write-up to match up with all the process pics. So there are more updates coming as I wrap this up. Next updates will include ‘how I do it’ details on placing backs to these drawers, as well as a presentation of drawer bottom materials used. Then there’s handle selection and placement, final drawer fitting, smoothing the entire carcase, and applying finish. Whew! Why does it seem that I have so much further to go when we’ve gotten so much done already??? As always, Thanks for Reading!
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