Shaping a bowed drawer front was pretty straightforward It was joining the front piece to the drawer sides that threw me a few curves

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k The dovetails are routed first (top). Then a thick blank can be added (bottom), and the front cut to shape.

hough it may sound difficult, there isn't any trick to "bowing" a drawer front. Simply start with a thick blank, cut the curves on a band saw, and sand them smooth. It's that simple.

However, the curved front has to be connected with two straight sides. And the traditional way to do this is with half-blind dovetails.

So how do you go about cutting dovetails on a curved piece? You don't For the end table, I built "square" drawers with dovetails first and then "bowed" the front pieces later.

BUILD DRAWER. This drawer starts out like most — the '/¿"-thick pieces are cut to size, see exploded view. (To highlight the dovetails, the drawer fronts are walnut, and the sides are maple, see bottom photo on page 17.)

Note: When cutting the sides to length, you want to make sure the drawer doesn't end up too deep. Take into account that a thick blank glued to the front later will add 1'// to the depth of the drawer. (I cut my sides 19"-long, which left about 5/s" between the back of the drawer and the case.)

To connect these pieces, I routed '/i" dovetails with a hand-held router and a dovetail jig, see Figs. 1 and la. Then I set the sides and back aside for the time being. It's time now to work on the drawer front.

OVERSIZE BLANK. To build up the thickness of the drawer front, I added a l3/4n-thick blank (8/4 stock), see exploded view and margin photos at left. And to accentuate the curves cut later, I chose a board with a grain pat tern shaped like a "bulls-eye," see photo above. I cut this blank slightly oversize and then glued it to the front of the front piece. (The blank will be trimmed flush on the table saw later.)

At this point, the front looks massive. But don't worry. The curve gets cut on the inside face as well as the outside face, so the final thickness of the drawer front will only be about %".

EXPLODED VIEW

false 1

note:

False front starts out 1A" longer and wider than front

False Front Drawer

note:

False front and front are walnut, sides and back are maple note:

False front and front are walnut, sides and back are maple

EXPLODED VIEW

false 1

note:

False front starts out 1A" longer and wider than front

TRIM OVERSIZE BLANK. After the glue is dry, the oversize blank can be trimmed to match the '/¿"-thick piece. I did this on the table saw, but the problem is that the oversize piece gets in the way. The solution is to use a thin auxiliary fence that the '//-thick piece can ride against, see Fig. 2. (I used a piece of lA" hardboard.)

To trim the oversize blank, lower the blade and position the rip fence and auxiliary fence so the '/"-thick piece is flush with the blade. Then clamp the auxiliary fence down, raise the blade, and trim the oversize blank, see Figs. 2 and 2a.

With the long edges of the blank flush, you can quickly trim the ends of the drawer front using the miter gauge and an auxiliary fence.

CUT CURVES. Now that the front has been trimmed, ifs time to create the curves on the inside and outside laces by cutting away most of the blank.

Laying out the curves was easy. I used the same template that I used to make the curved edging, see Fig. 3 and pattern on page 12. Lay out the starting points on the ends and inside face of the blank, see Fig. 3a. Then simply line up the template with the marks and draw the curves.

To cut the curves, I used the band saw, feeding the blank as smoothly as possible. Just be sure to stay to the waste side of the lines because you'll need to do some sanding later.

SAND CURVES. To smooth the curves, I used a little elbow grease, sanding the pieces by hand. And to make the job a bit easier, I used curved sanding blocks, see Fig. 5. Simply add adhesive-backed sandpaper to the cutoffs created at the band saw.

GROOVE FOR BOTTOM. With the drawer front smooth, grooves can be cut on all the pieces for the W plywood bottom. And to do this on the curved fronts, I used a slot cutter bit with a rub arm (so it would cut a V^'-deep groove), see Fig. 6 and margin photo.

With the grooves routed, I cut out the drawer bottom, see Fig. 7. Here again, I used the curved template to lay out the front edge before cutting it to shape. Then the pieces can be glued together just as you would with an ordinary square drawer. E3

Making Curved Drawer

note:

Make sanding blocks from curved waste pieces

To cut a l[4"-deep groove on the drawer front, I used a slot cutter bit and a shopmade rub arm, see page 18.

Blade should trim false front only note:

Lower blade to set fence block

Aux. fence false front

Blade should trim false front only

END VIEW

note:

Lower blade to set fence block

Aux. fence false front

note:

Cut to waste side of lines

note:

Cut to waste side of lines

Drawers front"

sandpaper note:

Make sanding blocks from curved waste pieces

Drawers front"

sandpaper

False Bottom Drawer

Rub arm note: Center-groove on bottom socket-

(¿if

Vs" slot

SECTION VIEW

front

Rout groove in two passes

Vs" slot cutter bit

drawer bottom

(V4" plywood)

note:

Use curved template to shape ' "

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Responses

  • rina
    How to make dovetails on curved drawer fronts?
    8 years ago
  • mikko
    What is a false front drawer?
    8 years ago
  • Elisa Taipale
    How to connect a curved drawer front to square drawer?
    6 years ago

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