Charles Neil lowboy build-along, #14
Hey everyone, sorry for the long delay. I’m afraid it’s called life’s little distractions. I’m back at the lowboy, if there’s anyone still interested?
A partial recap, plus update.
When I left off, I was getting ready to make the drawers. I got a good start and then disaster struck.. my clamps slipped and I wiped out what I thought was the only poplar I had left, plus I was a little short on mahogany for the drawer fronts. Ultimately, I found some thick poplar that I had and re-sawed
it and as I mentioned before, I found some mahogany I’d bought a couple years ago. Whew, that was close! I’ve got just enough poplar to make the taller drawers. I start by setting up my dovetail jig and get my routers set up for the dovetail operation. I zoom through the first drawer side.. the one I had to find wood for. A nice clean smooth cut. Oh, no, I cut the pins in the side, not the front. Now what? I could cut it off and re-router it, but that will make it too short. I already know I don’t have any more poplar. Now what? After a lot of thought, I decided to start over with maple instead of poplar, since I have some hard maple up on my shelf.. cool. I pull the maple down from the shelf. Cool, I have plenty. I cut a piece and do a light skim-planing. Wow, it’s highly figured and I’m not going to use figured wood for drawers. This is not a problem since I have three other boards. I pull all three down. THEY’RE ALL FIQURED! This is good news, bad news. Good because I bought all this maple as standard hard maple and it’s all nicely quilted and worth about $ 10 a bf more than what I paid for it. Bad news because I can’t use it for drawer parts (or better said, I don’t want to) and my nearest wood supplier is 120 miles round trip. I decide to check my semi-local lumber supply (the place I buy my deck material) for maple and low and behold, they can have it shipped in next day for less than I usually pay for maple. Next day I go pick up the maple (10 miles away) and wow, this is really nice, clean material. Ok, that’s handled and time to move on.
I thought you would like to know that Charles Neil is comming out with his own dovetail jig that lets your router made dovetails look much more like hand cut dovetails.
In using my dovetail jig, you first center you stock so the dovetails are equally spaced.
And, oh yes, make sure you’re putting the right joint on the correct piece.
After cutting the pins on the FRONT of the drawer, you use the pins to draw out were the dovetails are to be cut on the SIDE of the drawer.
This insures proper alignment. After getting into a pace, you can proceed fairly easily. I might add that I place numbers in the mating pieces to make sure that when I’m ready, all of the pieces are in the right places . After some checking of the dovetails’ fit, it’s time to add the grooves in the bottom for the drawer. I try to place the drawer bottoms where they will be the least conspicuous through the sides and drawer front’s, but not so high off the bottom that they use to much of the drawer space. Installing the groove in the sides and fronts is a straight-forward matter of setting up a dado blade and running all the pieces through. Once again, I mark the bottom inside of the drawers to make sure I don’t mill the wrong side.
Now that this operation is done, I treat the backs differently. I don’t dovetail the backs, I dado the sides and place a tenon on the backs, plus a little extra treatment on the taller side drawers. I’m sure you can tell what’s going to happen with those two drawers? One more operation is used on these side drawers’ backs. I first draw a line where the drawers will be coming through the backs of these two drawers. Then I start a hole with a forstener bit
and follow up with a ball shaped router bit placed in a cordless drill (a handy trick in some operations)
and then place a concave ball shape in the center of the hole started by the forsterner bit.
The next step is to cut the drawer back where the drawer bottom is placed.
After some smoothing of this mysterious concave shape, I’m done with the milling of the side drawer backs. I proceed with the backs of the other drawer backs by just cutting them off where the drawer bottoms can slide in. All-righty then, my drawer parts are all milled.
As I did with the drawer frames, I check for square with my trammel. After the drawers glue is dry I need to trim the pins that were milled too long and the quickest cleanest way to do this, is to set a board across the board and set the depth
of the router bit to exactly the depth of the of the board setting on top and then route across the pins making them perfectly even with the drawer fronts. This is a much cleaner way to even them up, rather than sanding or filing them down.
After sanding the drawers are ready for the fitting into the case.
I’m sure you’ve guessed what the extra grooves and mystery concave hole is in the side drawers, haven’t you? Next time, I’ll be fitting the drawers and some more interior case details.
Remember, the techniques used are from Charles Neil’s subscription online webisode.
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