The previous posts on the drawer construction included the word sensible, notice it’s left it out this time? I still think the approach is sensible but some may question that because of the way I’m going about making the bottoms. It would of been much easier to use plywood for the bottoms of these drawers. They’re all about 18″ deep and vary in width from 8″ to about 27″. These will be Alder instead of plywood to keep a more traditional approach to the construction of the Armoire.
Towards the end of last year I did a weekend seminar on setting up and using planes at Woodworkers Emporium here in Las Vegas. I purchased what I hoped would be enough 5/4 Alder for the students to use as they learned how to set up, sharpen, and use their planes. Knowing they were destined for these drawer bottoms I selected boards that were at least 6″ wide. After the seminar I took the boards home and stored them until needed for the drawer bottoms and that time has come. Pretty straight forward process that began with planing a working edge, setting up the bandsaw to resaw before running them through the thickness planer to a uniform thickness. Here’s where I’m glad to have a 15″ Powermatic rather than a bow saw and lots of hand planing!
Once they were uniform in thickness I ripped them to the widest possible size and then chose boards to equal 18+”. By the way, in case you’re wondering, the glue I use for all of my panels is Gorilla Glue. I’ve never had a failure and I really like how easily it cleans up. The drawer bottoms will be protected with shellac and need to be flattened by hand. Probably a combination of a block plane to even the joints if needed and then a finish sander. My concern with these is warping/cupping so made sure to alternate the growth rings rather than direction of the grain as I would if they were completely hand planed. After all, they’re just drawer bottoms!
Just an aside, living here in the desert I sometimes comment/complain about our weather extremes. The shop isn’t climate controlled and although I’ve tried swamp coolers on more than one occasion, they take up valuable room I don’t have plus the noise and blowing dust make them less then desirable. I took a break from the Armoire and insulated the door which should help things slightly. We recently had a hot spell with temps hitting 110+ so I’m anxious to see how this will help. Now we have a spell of unusually cool weather (for July) with temps staying below 100 and actually cooling down to the low 80’s at night!
A woodworking skill that’s on my list to learn to do by hand is cutting a sliding dovetail. In Tage Frid’s’ book on joinery he even shows how to make the saw. After all of the dovetail work on the fronts of the drawers I just didn’t feel up to using this project to learn that technique so reverted back to the tablesaw and router. Before removing the dado head used for the drawer grooves from the saw, each side received a 1/4″ x 1/4″ groove for the back. The dovetail bit I have is 14 degrees, this was then cut with the router table set up I made into the SawStop table board. Here is a LINK to that post if you’re interested. Although you should run the longest surface of the board against the fence I find that if you wax the table and apply pressure against it this is a safe process. Once all of them were cut is was time to do cut the pin (male) part of the joint on the ends of the drawer backs. After making a few practice cuts to get the depth set right it was time to do the back boards.
My wife keeps asking me this: “what percentage of the Armoire have you completed?” I always have a tough time giving her a straight answer! I have begun glueing up the bottoms and assembling drawers so I’ll blog that next. Then there are two more tops to edge and finish, that’s not to mention the door, backs, shelves, and hardware —– so what do I say? My best guesstimate is about 60%; this is a challenging project to say the least.