OK, so I “cheated.”
I typically assemble face frames with pocket screws. It’s simple, fast and strong enough. Since this face frame is composed of 1” x 3/4” members, pocket screws seemed a bit weak to me—I’d only be able to use a single screw in each member, which would allow it to “spin” somewhat. While this would be minimized greatly after gluing to the carcass, some “twist” could still occur over time. Since the drawers will feature prominently displayed through dovetails, I figured dovetailing the face frame would be both practical and design appropriate. I briefly considered bandsawing and chiseling the joinery, but with a dozen to do and the drawers looming, I couldn’t see spending the amount of time it would take me to do this entirely “by hand.” Opening up my router bit drawer, I discovered a 3/4” dovetailing bit I seem to recall buying to produce sliding dovertails for another job. So, I “cheated” and built a quick fixture to help me knock off this part of the process.
Without too much fuss, the bit and fixture process yielded some very nice, tight and clean joints.
Completed and Sanded
Once the glue dried, I sanded it from 120 through 220 and propped it up for this picture. Not only do dovetails create very strong, tight joints, they’re also “self squaring” which meant I didn’t have to make any adjustments to square it up during the glue up process.
Not too tight, not too loose…
I’m not certain, but there was likely an audible sigh when I first test-fit the frame to the carcass. It fit snuggly, without any gaps on the sides and aligned flush with the dust panels. Just the “right amount” of persuasion was required to complete the pairing. The trickiest part of the whole process was the glue up. I had previously cut a continuous slot along the front of each dust panel. I referenced my plate joiner’s fence off of this slot and proceeded to cut, more or less randomly, matching biscuit slots along the back side of the horizontal members of the face frame. Even with the A/C running, it was in the mid 70’s in the shop and there wasn’t much open time on the glue—and with around 36 biscuits to glue and set in place, this was gonna be tricky and hectic. Also, since the middle dust panels weren’t open, it was a bit tricky for the clamp to find purchase on the 1/4” ledge around the panel. In my haste I was a bit overly-generous with my glue application to a few spots resulting in greater than typical squeeze out…and a longer than typical amount of time spent wiping up the excess. There are a couple spots that will require some additional sanding, but otherwise…success.
Fresh from the clamps
A few hours later the clamps were removed and the completed case is just awaiting its drawers and top.
(originally posted at http://tenonandspline.com/blog/archives/110)
-- Patrick, Chicago, IL http://www.TenonAndSpline.com/blog