Making Stab Cuts

Tedswoodworking Plans

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To create wedge-shaped impressions plunge the stab knife straight down, then rock it backward.

Piston fit. Traditional solid-wood drawermaking is the only way to get an absolutely perfect fit. To try it for yourself make this study project. The elegant spiral-steel knob is customary on study drawers.

hen it has been designed and made with no compromise, the traditional solid-wood drawer fits like an automobile piston and works with a Rolls-Royce feeling of quality. The secret is to fit the parts to the opening before you join them.

The classical method of making a drawer relies on accurate layout, and planing to fit. A sharp bench plane takes a shaving that's about half a thousandth of an inch thick, precision unobtainable with any other woodworking rool. Once you have planed the drawer front to fit the opening, you don't want to make it any smaller in the process of fitting the joints. Instead, you cut the dovetail pins, which are on the ends of the drawer front, a bit shorter than the thickness of the drawer sides. This allows you to plane the long grain of the sides precisely down to the end grain of the pins, at which point the drawer has no choice but to fit. |

All the parts of the drawer, including the bottom, arc made £ of solid wood. To minimize wood movement, it's important > to choose evenly grown, quartersawn material. Whatever the £ species, the material must be a hardwood, and it must be quar- I

ccrsawn. Flatsawn or riftsawn wood simply docs not have the necessary stability, nor docs any softwood.

The grain direction of the bottom runs from side to side, so the wood can expand from front to back. The drawer bottom has a rabbet on three sides, to fit grooves in the drawer front and slips (see Fig. 1) which arc glued to the sides. The slips not only increase the drawer's bearing surface; they also permit a very thin drawer side and contribute a beautiful detail to the inside of the drawer.

A drawer like this is not a casual undertaking. It's neither quick nor easy—nor is it cheap: You have to allow about a day of bench work per drawer. It's too rich for many applications, when a routed drawer with a plywood bottom and metal slides is technically and aesthetically appropriate. The fitted solid-wood drawer is a luxury for your finest work.

To learn this method of drawcrmak-ing, tackle a sample drawer as a deliberate study project. Fill the drawer with Italian rifficrs, unpaid bills or your espresso-bean collection, and you'll have it for reference whenever you want to solve a drawer-making problem. Best of all, it will always remind you of an important station on your journey toward woodworking mastery.

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