Charles Neil mahogany lowboy build-along, #17
Now I’m at the point where it’s time to install the drawer fronts. Charles has a unique approach to drawers and drawer fronts. His approach that I’ve used on this project includes having the front of the drawers being made of the same species of wood that the drawer fronts are made. To start the process I take a small combination square and mark a pencil mark a ¼” away from each corner of the drawer openings.
Now I measure the distance in between the marks and these measurements represent the drawer fronts.
I have already prepared the drawer front material and planed them to approximately 5/16” thick.
After cutting the drawer fronts to size, I then route the detail on the edges of the drawer fronts.
When doing this, I make three passes, raising the router bit a little at a time, or following Charles approach, “sneaking up on it.” Routing this way helps make a burn-free, blow-out free drawer front.
In case you’re not aware, routing the end grain first insures that if you have a wood blow out on the end grain, the long passes remove the damage. Now that I have the drawer front’s cut out and routed, I need to find out exactly where the pulls and lock keyhole cover goes. To do that I mark the centers on the top drawer front and the lower center drawer front, plus the two taller side drawers.
Now that the centers are marked, I place a pencil mark on the case indicating where the centers are. Next I hold the top shelf where it will be installed and carry the center lines up from the two side drawers to make sure the pulls will line up on the side drawers and the upper drawer. After all the centers are marked I then place a Chippendale cover so it’s centered over all my marks on the drawer fronts and trace each of them where they will be placed.
Now I’m ready to apply my drawer fronts. I take each drawer and apply a heavy coat of glue (as if it was painted with a heavy coat of paint) on its front. Now moving quickly, I take the drawer fronts and center them in between the ¼” marks made earlier
and shoot nails (22 GA) in the drawer fronts, only where they will be hidden with the hardware when installed and that have been drawn on the drawer fronts. I now take the drawer assembly and carefully clamp the drawer fronts to the drawers,
cleaning any excess glue as I go. It’s important to make sure the drawer front hasn’t moved and that it’s been clamped tight to the drawer so that no gap is visible. On the two drawers that are the same size, after nailing, they are clamped face to face with some wax paper in between. Not shown in the photo are two long clamps that were placed on each side, clamping both drawers, top to bottom for additional pressure.
After the clamps are removed and the drawers are in place, the thin drawer fronts and the inner drawer front look as if they were one piece of wood with half blind dovetails cut in them.
Next time, we move on to the finial and if we have time, the hardware. Remember, the techniques used are from Charles Neil’s subscription online webisode.
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http://mw.charlesneilwoodworking.com/ a new project starts this today; an amazing blanket chest, so don’t miss out.
This is another innovative approach to drawer making developed by Charles over many years of period furniture making.
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