Web Frame Joinery

The primary jobs a web frame performs are to strengthen and divide the case. The frames keep the chest square and stable under die shifting weight of the drawers moving. They also prevent the sides of the chest from bowing under the load of the drawers and their contents.

FRAME TO CASE JOINERY. To do their job well, the web frames need to have a strong, tight-fitting connection to die case sides. The two most common joints for this task are the tongue and dado or a full dado.

Most of the time, I'll go with the tongue and dado because it's an easy-to-fit joint. In the drawings on the opposite page, you can see how this joint would work in a typical cabinet. For most frames, I cut the tongue along the bottom of the web frame. The tongue on the bottom allows the full thickness of the frame to support the v. eight ■ t th e drawer. And for the top frame, it's the only way to have the ; ngue fully housed in the dado.

BOTTOM FRAME. When it comes to the bottom frame, you'll need to do things a little different. Here, I reversed the joinerv. As I mentioned before, the tongue needs to be completely surrounded by the dado. With the tongue or i •-_-■. the joint isn't as strong. But since the base of the dresser supports the bottom frame, it's not a big deal.

DADO. I mentioned earlier that another method you can use to join web frames to a case is with a full dado (lower drawing at right). This means the top and bottom frames will be held in rabbets. Since the top frame doesn't bear any weight, there's no problem. And as in the previous example, the base supports the lower frame.

CHOOSING FRAME JOINTS. Besides the case to frame joinery, The joinery of the frame itself plays a big role in the strength of the case. Here you can choose from several joinery methods. But I like to find a balance between strength and speed.

The joint I use here is the stub tenon and groove (upper right drawing). This is easy to cut on the table saw. You'll want to take extra care to make sure the frames are square. If they're not, it can affect the squareness of the cabinet.

Stub tenon and groove joinery aliows you to easily add another detail often found in heirloom-quality furniture — dust panels. You can read more about them in the box below. A dust panel has the ^dded benefit of keeping the web rcmie square as it's glued together.

HALF LAP. The lower drawing at right shows another strong joint that I like to use when building web frames. I'll go with half laps when the case has to support larger drawers. There's a simple reason for this. The half lap increases the amount of glue surface in the joint. Finally, it's also a good idea to increase the size of the frame members to bear the added weight of the bigger drawers.


Before central heating and air conditioning became common, most houses had a lot more dust floating around. When it collected under dressers, the suction created by-drawers opening pulled the dust Lip and into the cabinet. To keep this from happening, craftsmen added dust panels to the web frames.

Wliile dust isn't as big a problem anymore, dust panels still provide a couple added benefits to furni

Stub tenon and groove is a simple and strong joint for a web .. frame

Stub tenon and groove is a simple and strong joint for a web .. frame

Size tongue to - -match dadoes in sides


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