This post continues a series in which I’m building a butler’s desk of American black walnut. Where we left off the case back had just been installed, completing the casework. With the case complete I can now begin building the components which will install into the case, starting with one of my favorite parts; drawer building.
I like to begin drawer building by first fitting all of the drawer faces to the cabinet.
The drawer sides are already fitted, they were fitted for marking out of the drawer supports, so with everything else now fitted I can begin work on the drawer backs. My first step is to bring them to thickness.
Then tune their sides.
Now I can shoot the ends and plane the overall length to fit into the case.
I’ve blocked up the drawer back and fit it into the case. I like to fit the parts in position to ensure that they will fit nicely into the case when the drawer is assembled, that way I can tune how they meet up before cutting the joinery.
The drawer sides were previously worked, but to ensure that everything will fit properly I double check them with winding sticks and straight edges.
Next I fit them into the case and adjust their back edges to make sure that both drawer sides are meeting up with the drawer back at the same angle.
The assembly should not have a twist to it, and fitting it up like this in the case ensures that anything minor will show up as a gap between the drawer sides. Everything is looking good so the next step is to dovetail the drawer back.
With the dovetailing now complete, I reinstall the back and sides to prepare to fit the drawer front. The drawer front is fitted much in the same way as the back, except that I cannot see a gap, so I must feel for it. First I ensure that my drawer front is not twisted, cupped or bowed. I do this with a granite surface plate.
Next I put it up to the assembly to check for a rocking motion against the drawer sides. If it rocks that means that the front edges of the drawer sides are not parallel with one another and must be tuned.
After passing this test I can move on to dovetailing the drawer fronts.
I’m saving the dovetail reveal for the end of this post. With the drawer now fitted I can begin making the drawer slips. I’m cutting these from white oak to match the drawer sides.
Next I plane them to dimension, I took this photo for those that think my shop is always clean….are the shavings on the floor just a prop? One will never know.
After grooving the drawer slips refreshments are served, then I begin fitting them into the drawers. I’m mitering the inside corners and aligning their edges with the bottom of the drawer sides.
With the drawer slips now installed I can knock apart the drawers to prep them for glue-up. The first step in this process is to mark the fronts and flush them with the cabinet.
Then detail the sides and back, finally reassembling and gluing them. After which the dovetails are carefully cleaned up with a plane.
I remove the absolute bare minimum material as anything removed loosens the fit. This doubles as a fitting process as I purposefully left the drawer faces tight to the sides of the case.
Now for the drawer bottoms (the fun never ends!). I’ve managed to find a beautiful piece of 11″ wide quarter sawn white oak, it won’t be enough to complete the drawer bottoms entirely, but it will span the majority. I expect the drawers to be opened about 3/4 of the way so most often only this section will be visible.
After the drawer bottoms are fitted and finish planed, I can install them. Now for the reveal;
For those interested in a little more detail with regard to the process, fitment and how the drawers open and close, I’ve created a video detailing these topics.
Thank you for visiting, I hope that you have enjoyed!