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False drawer fronts on fine furniture?

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Forum topic by RipFence posted 664 days ago 1964 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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RipFence

28 posts in 1294 days


664 days ago

Hello All:
I am currently working on a replica of a Stickley 913 dresser for my wife and trying to decide how I want to do the drawers. Two options I’m considering are 1. to cut through dovetails using my tablesaw and bandsaw (as described by Duginske) and add false fronts or 2. to cut half blind dovetails with a Leigh jig. I really enjoy cutting through dovetails myself. Granted, they’re not hand cut in the true sense, but I still feel like I did them myself. But I’m not sure I like the idea using a false drawer front. I have access to a Leigh jig which would allow me to cut half blind dovetails. Of course I would have to learn to use it but the videos make them look reasonably straight forward (although I’m sure I will make plenty of mistakes in my first practice pieces). For some reason I don’t really like the idea of using a router jig. I can’t really explain why, it just doesn’t appeal to me. So for me, each choice is a tradeoff: cut the joint myself but have to add a false front or use a jig but have a solid front. I could glue on the false front so as to closely approximate a solid front. For those of you who will tell me to hand cut them, its just not an option for me. I’m more of a wood machinist than a woodworker.
Do any of you wrestle with these tradeoffs as well? Which method would you advocate for a piece of heirloom furniture?
Thanks in advance,
Jim
PS Those of you who also read SMC please excuse the duplicate posting.


10 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile

cabmaker

1287 posts in 1410 days


#1 posted 663 days ago

Jim, sounds like you prefer to do thru type. I guess that explains what you mean by false drawer front. There is no such thing on a working drawer. Do you mean using an applied drawer front (thus making thrus easier) in leau of doing half blinds in the drawer head ? Either way is easy, so have it yur way. I dont think yull be under the scrutiny of a musem curator. Enjoy the journey JB

View CessnaPilotBarry's profile

CessnaPilotBarry

877 posts in 711 days


#2 posted 663 days ago

For that piece, I’d use half blinds up front and through DT’s in back. Your Leigh will do both painlessly and nice looking. Be aware that the original probably had machine cut dovetails, so you’re even true to history!

Cabmaker… Oddly enough, at least one style of furniture, Greene and Greene, uses through dovetails on drawer fronts. Look at this example from the web:

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2446 posts in 952 days


#3 posted 663 days ago

I would go w/ through dovetails and glue a 1/4” thick piece of nicely figured wood to the front. In fact by splitting the same board into 1/4” veneers, you could have nearly identical grain on 2 drawers. You could make them match in pairs.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View tenontim's profile

tenontim

2131 posts in 2345 days


#4 posted 663 days ago

I use the “false front” on the drawers I make, mainly because I make the drawers out of hard maple, regardless what type of wood is used for the case. Also, I find it easier to line up the inset drawers, by making the guides and installing the drawer, then applying the front to it, with the clearance equal all around. I have also made a few pieces, with drawer fronts similar to the ones Barry posted, and in that case, the drawer is made of the same wood type as the case.

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cabmaker

1287 posts in 1410 days


#5 posted 663 days ago

Cessna pilot, sorry I dont understand your response directed to me about the thru tail front ? Ive seen this many times. Maybe my post was not clear, oh well I appreciate the response never the less and Tim I guess its just a terminolagy thing, about false fronts and all. In the real world a false front would go in a fixed position such as where a sink would be.

View AandCstyle's profile

AandCstyle

1257 posts in 858 days


#6 posted 663 days ago

I agree with Tim. I get a much better fit using this method.

-- Art

View CessnaPilotBarry's profile

CessnaPilotBarry

877 posts in 711 days


#7 posted 660 days ago

“I use the “false front” on the drawers I make, mainly because I make the drawers out of hard maple, regardless what type of wood is used for the case. Also, I find it easier to line up the inset drawers, by making the guides and installing the drawer, then applying the front to it, with the clearance equal all around”

This is exactly how I do kitchens and built-ins with inset drawers and doors, as I hate adjustable hardware…

I make the “false” or applied drawer front (or door) the exact size of the opening, screw it in place, then use a spacer to draw the gaps. Once the gaps are drawn, I unscrew the fronts, cut and plane them to the lines, and reinstall.

This also accounts for slightly out of square openings. If you use a sled, it’s really easy to shim the drawer front to the kerf, for a perfect cut down the marked line.

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112000 posts in 2178 days


#8 posted 660 days ago

The false front is a bit of a misnomer .If you use one piece of wood and resaw the a 1/4”-3/8” off and use your jig to dovetail the remaining part of your drawer fronts and then glue the resawed part back on it will be one solid drawer front with matching grain. Even big time furniture makers like Charles Neil does it that way.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View CessnaPilotBarry's profile

CessnaPilotBarry

877 posts in 711 days


#9 posted 659 days ago

Jim,

Do you know why Charles does it that way? He doesn’t do much without reason, so I’d love to know why.

Are they rabbeted fronts or inset fronts that get worked as though dovetails and end up looking like typical half-blind fronts?

Thanks!

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

View RipFence's profile

RipFence

28 posts in 1294 days


#10 posted 659 days ago

Sorry for just now coming back to this thread, I posted my question and then got slammed at work.
Anyway, it sounds like the approach I want to use is fairly well accepted and has advantages. Thanks to all of you for your input on this, I’ll be building my drawers with bandsaw through dovetails and a veneer/false front.
Cheers,
Jim

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