Sidetofront Joints

(E) CONCEALED DADO AND TONGUE (F) THROUGH DOVETAILS

(G) HALF-BLWD DOVETAILS (H) HALF-BUND DOVETAILS

(FLUSH FRONT) (PARTIAL-OVERLAY FRONT)

(A) RABBET JOINT

(B) BASIC DADO

(C) SLIDING DOVETAIL

(D) DADO AND TONGUE

FIG. 1: DRAWER-FRONT OPTIONS

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FLUSH raONT

Substituting a sliding dovetail for the dado transforms the joint into one of the strongest. If you're using it for a deep drawer, however, taper the dovetail and the dado it fits in along their length because the glue could seize up the joint when it is only halfway home. (See AW, #15. page 15.)

The dado-and-tongue joint is strong enough to hold together with glue alone because the tongue is at right angles to the pull on the front. Four or five years ago, I made several wide drawers with this joint, and they're still in good shape. If you don't want to see the end grain, choose the concealed dado-and-rongue variation. The machine setups for this version require patience and test cuts, but once you get them right, you can do a whole stack of drawers in the time it takes to hand-dovetail one.

To me. nothing exemplifies quality craftsmanship as much as hand-dovetailed drawers. Dovetails are very strong, even when the pins are reduced to mere slivers as was fashionable in high-style work of the 18th century. Through dovetails are often used, perhaps overused, for their decorative quality and because they're quicker and easier to cut than hall-blind dovetails. Although there are router jigs that will produce the spacing and look of a hand-cut dovetail. I think it's worth learning to cut them with hacksaw and chisel.

False drawer fronts are frequently applied to the structural drawer front. This is because it's much easier to first fit the drawer shell to the carcase and then add and align the applied front. The dado-and-tongue joint is ideal for use with an applied front as shown in Fig. 1.

Joining the back to the sides has its own range of options. Fig. 2 shows five of these (I to M).

Traditionally, drawer backs are set on top of the drawer bottom and slightly below the top edges of the sides. This leaves room to slide the bottom in under the back, making construction and assembly much easier. You can then add the bottom after assembling the drawer. I think custom more than practicality has a lot to do with why the back is lower than the sides, though this practice does allow-air toescape when closing a tightly fitted drawer. It also creates needed

FIG. 2: SIDE-TO-BACK JOINTS

FIG. 2: SIDE-TO-BACK JOINTS

Cutting JointsCutting Joints

clearance if you fix a stop block to the underside of the rail above the drawer. (More about stop blocks later.)

All of the joints shown in Fig. 2 are durable. The simple, dadoed examples— the through dado and the dado and tongue—are easy to cut, but I prefer the others—the stopped dado, the through tenons and the through dovetails—for top-quality drawers. Where possible. I extend the drawer sides several inches beyond the back (I to L).This allows access to stuff at the back of the drawer without having to pull the drawer entire-lv out of the case.

Drawer bottoms don't offer quite as many choices. Fig. 3 shows four (N to Q). Almost all drawer bottoms fit in grooves cut directly in the drawer sides (side/front groo\'es). If the sides are very thin, the grooves can be cut in strips of wood called slips that are glued to the sides. Slips also increase the bearing surface and reduce the wear and tear on sides that slide on runners.

If you don't use slips, for some side-to-front joints you'll need to cut stopped grooves to prevent them from showing on the outside of the drawer (Fig. 1: D. E, F). Overlapping construction masks the grooves on the others. Note how the groove falls within the bottom tail for half-blind dovetail joints (Fig. 1: G, H). I like to position the groove to give the drawer bottom at least '/a in. clearance above the front rail of the carcase. If the bottom does sag a little, it won't scrape on the front rail. Very wide, thin bottoms can be reinforced in the middle with a central rail fixed to the drawer front and back as shown in Fig. 4.

To allow for expansion and contraction of solid-wood bottoms, run the grain from side to side. Glue or pin the front edge to the groove in the drawer front and slot-screw the rear edge to the back. Plywood bottoms won't move, of course, but I prefer to orient the grain of the face veneer from side to side anyway.

A very useful exception to the standard bottom, indeed, to the standard drawer, is the bottom-hung drawer. (See AW, #22. All About Drawers: Part 1.) Here, a plywood bottom extends beyond the drawer sides to support the drawer in grooves cut in the carcase. These "bottom-hung" drawer/trays are perfect for workshop storage, and stacks of them can be run up very quickly. I haven't seen the idea put to "finer" use but see no reason why it couldn't be. Continued

FIG. 3: DRAWER-BOTTOM OPTIONS

(N) DRAWER SCeS/ FRONT GROOVED

FIG. 3: DRAWER-BOTTOM OPTIONS

(N) DRAWER SCeS/ FRONT GROOVED

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Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

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