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Taking labor out of dovetailed drawers *PIC*

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.

While this approach to making drawers is not for everyone, those with clients waiting on a place to store their socks could benefit from getting the drawers done faster. Learned of this approach......in the Headley shop of course.

The inspiration for this post came from a question, “You really don’t nail the drawer sides together for sawing the dovetails?” Followed by an explanation of why it was not necessary. Well, I do and it is.

To gain the most benefit from ganging the two drawer sides together it needs to be done when the sides are rough cut. The rough cut sides are nailed together with two nails in opposite corners. I use a 3/4" long square cross section nail from a nail gun. One edge of the assembly is jointed, then ripped to rough width, then planed to proper height fit, then cut to length, marked and dovetails sawed, chiseled on exposed side, separated and chiseling to base line completed. Two drawer sides get made for essentially the labor of making just one.


Some would say the horror, there is a nail hole entirely through one drawer side and part way through the other. So what I say, I make no attempt to fill it. These are drawer sides.

I slightly over saw the tails in depth. Makes removing the waste quicker; no pesky piece can remain at the intersection of the baseline and saw kerf. I hate paring out these crumbs. I have made over 100 drawers in the past few years. The novelty of using this aspect of furniture building as a badge of skill wore off a few dozen ago. I get satisfaction for getting them done. I could make a perfect drawer interior but who would notice, or care? I don’t care and nobody has noticed.

What is important is the fit. A well fit drawer works effortlessly and looks sharp. I saw the drawer front and back slightly over sized of the case opening. The case opening is rarely perfectly rectangular. The front and back are planed to match the opening it has to fit into.

The top of the drawer front and back is planed to get a perfect amount of uniform clearance on the top.


Next the ends are planed using a shooting board to get a perfect uniform clearance on each side. If the ends need to be at some slight angle to match the opening the piece is shimmed in the shooting board with a credit card as shown in the picture.

Today I got the sides dovetailed and fit, as well as the fronts and backs. I store the parts in the case as shown. Dovetailing the fronts and backs remains. I have no labor saving ideas for this step.

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