12 December 2005

Drawers


Today's project begins in my workshop with a pile of wood and a couple of power tools.
One of the problems in this house is the poor quality of the kitchen drawers. While the cabinets are solid Oak and pretty well made...the 35 year old plastic drawers were just complete shit. I had the same crap in my kitchen and built new drawers several years ago while I was still a home-repair trainee. Basically all I'm building are a series of shallow boxes that will become the new kitchen drawers.

The first step (after buying all the materials) was to run all of the boards on my table saw a couple of times creating the dado that the drawer bottoms will sit in. This can be done with a straight bit and a router or a dado blade in the table saw...but either one of those options would have meant a lot of time setting up the tool and I don't even own a dado blade for my saw. So with the blade set at about 3/8 of an inch I set my rip fence at about half an inch from the blade and ran the boards across it length-wise. This left a cut in the wood about 1/8 inch wide and half way through the width of the board. I then moved the rip fence out 1/8 of an inch and made another pass along the boards. With another fence move and cut I had finished my dado. There is now a slot along the length of all of the drawer sides that the 1/4 inch plywood bottom will slip right into.

Once all of the boards had the slot for the bottom of the drawer it was time to switch to the other saw in this shot and begin cutting the boards to length.
Measure Twice Cut Once.
Words to live by.
I tend to measure 6 times and cut 3 or 4...but someday I hope to measure twice and cut once.

First hint...don't go by the old drawers.
Measure the opening in the cabinet for each drawer and then measure the depth of the cabinet. Take an inch off of each of your measurements and you have the lengths you need to cut for your drawer pieces.
Measure Twice Cut Once.

Depending on how many pieces you are making you can either measure each on individually and cut it or if you are using a mitre saw you can lock it in place and put a 'stop block' next to it at the right measurement and then you just need to butt your board up against the stop and make your cut...that way all of your pieces will be exactly the same. I wasn't making enough pieces for that so I just measured them and cut them individually.

When I built my first set of drawers a few years ago for my kitchen, I used 'box joints' and nails to put them together. A crappy connection that is essentially fit tab a into slot b, glue and nail it together. They are functional but ugly with minimal glue surface (most of the time it's the glue and not the nails that hold furniture together...generally the nails are there to 'clamp' the piece until the glue dries)
For this set I decided to go a little more traditional for the joinery so we are going to explore the "half-blind dovetail" in my next post.

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