Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Contemporary Jewelry Making Cabinet -- The Drawer Dummy

It may come as a surprise that this term "Drawer Dummy" refers not to the maker, but to a jig -- a jig that I found essential during the next step of the project.

With the frame complete, it was time to build the six drawers for the cabinet.  Drawer making is one of my favorite activities (as opposed to drawer fitting, which I loathe.)  Completing hand cut dovetails gives one a sense of satisfaction, a feeling that you are working your craft.  But with four days left before Christmas, I knew that it was not going to happen.  Recently, Fine Woodworking # 208 featured a cover story about pinned, rabbetted drawers, so I decided to give them a whirl.

I machined the cherry drawer fronts to 3/4", the backs to 5/8" and the poplar sides to 3/8".  The drawer heights matched those from Tom's plans for project five in Made by Hand.  I rabbetted the drawer fronts and backs on the table saw with a sled and a tenon jig to match the width of the sides.

Dovetailed drawers assemble quite easily and are kind of self-squaring, these rabbetted drawers are not so cooperative.  Thus enters the Drawer Dummy.  By cutting and stacking a couple of pieces of mdf that are about 1mm smaller in width and length than the internal dimensions of the drawer, you create a template that allows you to glue up the drawer, hold it in place while you drill the pins, and plane it to fit during final assembly.

I first glued up the drawer box fitting it around the Dummy, clamped it, and slid on the drawer bottom (plywood, edge rabbetted, in grooves.)  You can check it for square, but the Dummy ensures that it can be no more than 1mm out of square.  After 30 minutes I removed it and moved to the next drawer.  If you look at the photo above, you will see that I put a bit of packing tape on the corners to prevent the drawer from affixing itself to the Dummy.

With six drawers, this will take the better part of an afternoon.  When the sun rises again you can begin inserting the pins.

The number of pins in each drawer increased as the drawer size increased in a pattern of 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4.  I first marked a line on each drawer side that ensured that the pin would be centered in the drawer front.  Using a set of dividers I determined the placement of the pins along this line.  It's very easy.  If you want two pins, you set your dividers to take three steps along the line, giving you two marks on the drawer.  Three pins requires four steps, and four pins five steps.

There is nothing fancy about the next step.  Store bought dowels were inserted into holes that were drilled by hand, glued and left to dry.  Remove the excess dowels with a flush cut saw.

At this point I like to go for a trial fit.  During the glue up of the frame (when last we spoke it had been dry fit) I installed drawer guides on the drawer side rails.  As it is winter, I wanted the drawers to slide along with a bit of play, accounting for the increased humidity of summers yet to come.  A little work with the low angle jack (my go-to plane on softer woods like cherry and poplar) and we had a nice fit.

Ok, that just leaves knobs, top, and finish to go.  I might just finish on time.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for your article, very inspiration me, thanks and I like