NBSS Week 12 – Making the drawer for the Shaker night stand, cutting stopped dado’s in the toolbox, and a lecture on mirrors

This week was a short 3-day week for us that started out with a lecture on fitting the drawer front for our shaker nightstand. After lecture we began the process by first cutting the drawer front blank to a wee bit over the measured height of the drawer opening and also cutting one edge square. We then went back to our workbenches and hand planed the drawer height until it press fit into the drawer opening of our tables. Once fitted for height, we press fit the square corner into each side to determine if the sides were square.

Usually one side will be square and the other side will be slightly out of square. We fit the out of square side first. This involves again hand planing the side of the drawer to fit the exact profile of table’s drawer opening. Once fitted we press fit the drawer front into the opening with the newly fitted side tight and we then scribe the length on the other side from the inside back of the drawer opening. We then take the table and the drawer front to the tablesaw, where we cut it to length by sneaking up on the line we scribed until the drawer just press fits into the opening (this cut is square). Here’s what the drawer fronts will now look like (this is on my toolbox)

















Now that the drawer front was fitted we proceeded to rough cut the drawer sides and fit them to our table’s drawer opening. We used the drawer front’s height to determine what height to cut the drawer sides to, then went to the tablesaw and cut these about 1/32” over that height. Then back to the workbench again where we hand planed each side (right and left) independently until it fit into the opening and just barely slides all the way to the back. Here’s what that looks like (again on my toolbox)

















We then took all 3 pieces to the table saw where we cut the groove for the drawer bottom in all 3. This groove was ¼” wide, about 3/16” deep and located ¼” from the bottom. Once the groove was cut we now had the info to cut the drawer back to height which is the measurement from the top of the newly cut groove to the top of the sides. We then cut the drawer back to size with the length being 1/32” shorter than the drawer front and the height about 1/32” taller than the needed height. The result once the drawer is built is that the drawer will be slightly tapered toward the back which will ensure smooth operation. Having all 4 drawer components now cut to size it was time to cut the dovetails. We are cutting half blinds for the front and through dovetails for the rear. Once cut we dry fitted the drawer to ensure it was square, and then glued it up.

Here’s what it looks like so far:

After the glue dried we hand planed the rear flush with the two sides and test fit it into the opening. At this point, if you’ve done everything right, it just barely fits into the opening and probably will not slide all the way in.
















This final fitting will occur next week after we make and fit the drawer bottom.

On the toolbox project this week, I learned how to cut stopped dado’s on the tablesaw. This involves determining where the front and rear of the tablesaw’s blade cutting action are and marking these two points on the tablesaw’s fence. We then mark the starting and stopping points for the cuts to be made on our panels and these correspond to those same points in the blades’ cutting action. We needed both points because we were cutting the grooves for our drawer divider frames and we cut both the left and right sides using the same fence setting. This means that one side would be a plunge cut (meaning we lower the panel into the spinning blade, using a rear stop block to prevent kickback, so that the beginning of the cut corresponds to the rear cutting point on the blade and then pushing that side all the way through. For the other side we started by pushing the rear of the panel into the blade and stopping at the end point of our cut which is determined by the front most cutting point of the blade. Once completed we had three sets of grooves all located at the same spots on the right and left panels. We then had to return to the workbench where we used our router planes to square up the ends. This was required because the tablesaw blade is round and when plunge cutting, the cut starts and stops at the correct points but the beginning and the ends of the cuts have half of the round shape of the blade left in the groove. Here’s the box with the dado’s cut:















Our Lance lecture this week was on mirrors or “looking glasses”. He gave us a short history of both the making of the glass (or polished metal long ago) and the frames that housed them. For a long period of time large mirrors were very expensive and so most were owned by only the wealthy. Thus most historical examples have frames that are highly decorated and ornate with carving and gilding. Lance also detailed the unique construction requirements of mirror frames, which involves trying to minimize the contact of the wood with the actual mirror surface because with older mirrors this contact would lead to deterioration of the “mirrored” surface.

Next week we make the drawer bottom for our shaker nightstand, perform the next stage of drawer fitting, make the top, and I glue up the carcass for my toolbox. Until then…

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