This post continues a series in which I’m building a butler’s desk of American black walnut. Where we left off three drawers had been completed for the case. This post will focus on the process of building the desk drawer. The desk drawer is a drawer that runs the width of the cabinet and serves as a support for a fold-down desktop which will follow.
The desk drawer differs from the preceding case drawers. First, the drawer bottom will be shorter than the drawer sides, doing so will leave room behind the drawer for electrical work. Next the face of the drawer will extend out to the sides to cover the leg joinery. This creates some challenges in building the drawer; the half-blind dovetails for instance, being setback from the sides, must be cutout in a differing manner and the drawer back being set in must be joined with tenons rather than dovetails.
To further complicate matters this drawer spans the width of the cabinet, but the desktop does not. I was confronted with a challenge of wether or not to split the drawer and make two smaller drawers or not. I decided one drawer would do, but along with it I needed to design a way to make a natural transition from desktop to drawer. My solution; build a sliding cover for the right hand section of the drawer that doubles as an auxiliary workspace, which in my case would serve to hold a cup of coffee while I work.
My work begins by cutting and fitting the drawer sides.
Then cutting the tails.
This is where the complications begin, the knife would not quite make the full mark, so I had to continue the lines with a straightedge.
The extensions would not allow me room for much sawing, so I made shallow saw cuts then proceeded with chopping. Normally I chop and split, but in this case it the chopping was much more like mortising, but being very careful not to cause splits in the drawer.
The completed dovetails:
Next I mark and cut the length of the drawer back and begin marking out for through tenons.
After sawing out the tenons, I complete the cutout by chopping the baseline.
Then cut for wedges.
Next I transfer marks to my drawer sides and double check the accuracy of those marks with the drawer back.
Followed by cutting the mortises and checking the fit. The space needed for wedges will be cut after the drawer fitting is completed.
And the assembled drawer.
Now to create the center divider, the center divider will be the same height as the drawer sides, they are tenoned much in the same way and tenoned into the drawer front. The drawer front tenons will be about 3/4 of the way through the drawer face, remaining hidden from view.
The drawer face and back are then mortised to receive the divider.
Now that the center divider is in place, I plan out grooves for the sliding tray, then cut the drawer back to allow room for the tray.
The next step in building this drawer is to create drawer slips to hold the bottom panel, first I prep the slips to size, then groove them.
I cut these for a plain miter and install them. After they’re installed I can fit wedges into the back tenons and finish up the drawer exterior.
Finally the drawers are ready to receive drawer bottoms, which I’ve made from a full panel cut to fit, so the grain will match from side to side.
And the dovetail shot.
You may notice that this drawer, as well, needs the bottom panel extended. That will come soon.
I hope that you have enjoyed following along with this build, I’m interested to know your thoughts, please comment below.