Hand Tools Archive

Subject:
Sofa Table - part V: A Hidden Drawer

Derek Cohen (in Perth, Australia)
It's time to begin building the drawer that will fit this table ...

I must say up front that this is the strangest drawer I have built to date. It is definitely the longest. In fact, I dare anyone to have built a longer drawer (it's about 1200mm long, or nearly 4 feet in the old money).

It is also the ugliest drawer I think I have built - however, that is partly to be expected as it is a hidden drawer, that is, it must blend in with the apron so that no one knows its there (no telling now).

The drawer sides are made from the same timber that will be used for the table top, West Australian Sheoak. This is a pink-brown wood with a fine figure (similar to Lacewood). Here is the slab I started with ...

The drawer is slim - more like a tray. There is just 40mm for the drawer, and this will convert to 30mm of head room after the drawer bottom is added.

Below is a picture of the drawer sides fitted to the interior ...

They run below the Domino-buttons, which double to ensure that the drawer will not tip when extended.

The next step was to glue up the drawer bottom ...

Since the drawer is fairly narrow (about 210mm/8 1/4"), it was tempting to simply use a single board and run it with the grain down the length of the drawer. However I know that this will create problems when the wood expands and contracts. Drawer bottoms need to run across its width. Consequently, boards were sawn and glued together for this purpose. The thickness of the drawer bottom is 1/4".

Below is the drawer bottom being trued on one length and one width. The remainder will be sized at the end.

Drawer Slips

The drawer sides are 3/8" thick, which is too thin for grooves. Consequently, the drawer bottom will be attached with slips. This is how they were made ...

The first step was to score the bottom of the slip. They are being made from the top down, and reverse-engineered ...

There is a 5mm space to the next line (the height above the drawer blade) ...

The groove is going to be 3/16". The drawer bottom will be rebated 1/16" along the sides to fit.

Plough the groove ...

Chamfer the edges ...

I scraped a slight curve on the inside ...

... and then ripped them free on the table saw ...

Back to the drawer

I warned you that this was a weird looking drawer. Here is the drawer front - ploughing the front groove. This has to allow for the lower- and upper overlay to match the apron ...

I will not show you boring pictures of dovetailing, however this is a how the drawer front is constructed ...

With the sides joined, this is how the drawer front looks ...

From this inside ...

The through dovetails at the rear of the drawer look like this (all very rough at this stage) ...

I planned that the drawer would have a working depth of 250mm (10"). The drawer back was attached with a though mortice-and tenon ...

Of course, I did not think this through, and the lower tenon sits where the slip runs. I had to saw it off and fill the hole. Well, it looks like a double mortice-and-tenon. We are the only ones to know the truth ...

Here is a picture of the drawer ...

Below is the drawer extended, with a mock up of the top ...

The drawer can extend much further than this without any droop. I am considering another hidden drawer behind this drawer - by adding another divider. This would also add more rigidity (not sure if this is needed).

Finally, here is a picture of the drawer end of the table alongside the sofa table it will replace ...

We'll complete the drawer next time.

Regards from Perth

Derek

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