This post continues a series in which I’m building a butler’s desk of American black walnut. Where we left off I had prepared everything needed to complete the interior casework. I’m working on a series of assemblies called web frames. These assemblies will support the drawers on the right side of the case. Also, for the left side, I’m working on the upper door track along with the shelf that it supports.
Web frames are composed of a drawer divider, also called a rail, which runs side to side, two drawer runners which run front to back and in this case another rail at the back of the case. Often the drawer dividers on the front of the case are a visible component, in this case they will be hidden from view.
I begin with marking out the position of the web frames using the drawer side as a height reference.
Then I stack the drawer runner on top and mark again, now I know exactly where to cut my dado groove.
Rinse and repeat for the opposing side, then twice again for the upper drawers. Next I layout marks for the shelf and support on the left side. Now the partition is marked out, but before cutting, I will move onto building my web frames.
The aesthetic that I’m shooting for on this case requires the back edges to remain full thickness (continuous plane cut chamfers). In order to accommodate that I need to cut blind dados for the web frames, which means they cannot be slid in from the back of the case.
The way that the case assembles is in three steps. The sides fit up to the top, then the bottom fits into the sides and finally the center divider slides in from the front. The resulting difficulty is that the web frames must assemble inside the case, putting an additional requirement on the assembly that it must come together in series, each part locking in the previous.
I have developed an approach to how these will assemble; the drawer divider will fit into a pair of mortises, one side being made deeper than necessary so that it can fall into the mortise, then lifted and slid into position in the opposing mortise. I can’t have the part loose in the case, however, since it would be likely to fall out. To lock it in position I will have the drawer runners slide in from the back of the case and interlock with the drawer divider, holding it in place. Finally the drawer runners will be held in position by a rear drawer divider.
I’ve cut mortises in the dividers, tenons onto the runners, and for the back spreader rail I’ve cut bridle joints. Bridle joints will allow the spreader to join the assembly with everything else already in place.
I’ve marked out the bridle joints above, and I’ve created a video to show how the mortise is cut out, how the tenon is fitted, and how the assembly comes together.
The next step in the process is to cutout the blind dados for both the web frame assembles, the shelf and it’s support. The shelf is very thin, so I begin by marking out with with knife, then using a batten as a fence while I remove the waste with a chisel.
After which I install the shelf then mark out for the support.
Both grooves are now cutout. For the dados on the opposing side of the case I took a video of the process.
Now with the cutout complete I can touch up the interior surfaces with a finish plane and apply shellac. I’m happy with how these surfaces are coming up so far.
After that I glue up the case and check for square. I haven’t yet had the chance to video a glue up since they’re the most stressful of processes and are also very time sensitive, but all went well.
As best I can describe the process of assembling the web frames inside of the case, I thought a video of how they come together might make for a much clearer understanding of how they assemble.
Thank you for visiting, and I hope that you have enjoyed.
It’s looking great Bri!
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