A Square Deal (28)

Post 28 in a series describing the design and construction of a pair of tables for a client on the west coast. Recent installments in this series are listed in the ‘Blog Archive’ to the right side of the page.


On to drawer construction. Reader’s may recall a post in the ‘Mizuya’ design series where I looked at drawer construction methods. I came up with what I felt to be an improved version of the Scandinavian NK drawer system, using only joinery, no glue, and extremely durable lignum vitae used in the rubbing parts. In the direction of wanting to make that idea happen, along with the related hammerhead corner joints seen on the table corners, I designed some custom hammerhead router bits and had them made several months back. They were not inexpensive.

For the drawer side connection to the lignum vitae runner, the smallest of those router bits was called for, a 1/4″ shank tool. Here’s where the rubber meets the road with this design: would milling a long blind hammerhead slot in lignum vitae be too much for the tool? I was unsure, but thought it was worth a try at least. If the cutter broke, it could mess up the part, and that might lead to a reassessment of the feasibility of the design. Was rather hoping it worked, actually….

After a series of cutting operations on my router table, the parts emerged successfully:

I ran the part through twice, the second time with a little camellia oil for lubricant. The cutting went without a hitch, all the bother I had to deal with was just some sawdust packing behind the cutter. Note: at this point the runner is about 1/2″ too long, so the end cut with shallow crack you see above will be gone soon enough.

The bottom edge of the drawer side is formed into a long hammerhead sliding tenon, which presented its own set of challenges on the fabrication side, but again, these came out decently:

Trying the fit:

It was a bit of a rush seeing the joinery come together as I had hoped it might. My god, I think it works!

The two sides with the floor panel, rebate as yet uncut, in between just to get a sense of things:


Then on to fitting the lower lignum vitae runners into the cabinet – at this point they are a fair amount over dimension in terms of thickness:

When they are done, they will be proud of the stretcher upper surfaces, front and back, by 1/64″ or so.

Eyeballing the situation with the drawer side sitting in place:

The end of the drawer side will later be formed into a pair of 1/4″x 3/8″ tenons.

This type of drawer construction keeps the side of the drawer well away from the rest of the cabinet, so there is no opportunity for the parts to bind or chafe, and one can obtain a close-running fit with only a small amount of actual contact between the parts:

Later on, I rebated the floor panel and placed the drawer parts back in place to check clearances:

The idea I’m going with is to build the drawer to fit in the opening generally, leaving a bit of room for the side-mounted lignum vitae wear strips, which I can carefully plane in thickness to obtain a good fit of the drawer:

The drawer itself will not touch the surrounding framing, only the lignum vitae wear strips, lowers and sides, will be in contact with the drawer’s runner. That way the finish on the stretcher upper surfaces and the inside faces of the legs should not have to suffer rubbing marks from the drawer at any time. If future adjustments need to be made it will be a simple matter to remove the wear strips and adjust, thin, shim, or replace them as required.

The front edge of the floor will fit into a dado in the drawer front panel:

At this point the drawer is a hair wide and touches the inside faces of the legs at this point:

So far so good. I’ll make some adjustments to the floor panel tomorrow, and then proceed with cutting the joinery for the front and rear drawer walls.

Thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way. Ready for more?: Post 29

8 Replies to “A Square Deal (28)”

  1. CHRIS;
    Excellent execution of the plans! Looks like it worked great! No answer from before? Thanx again!

  2. So cool, thanks as always! In 20 years they're going to associate hammerhead NK drawer construction with you the same way they associate Krenov with doweled carcass joinery and wooden latches. Only exaggerating slightly. 🙂

    -jamie s

  3. JT,

    thanks for the comment. I was puzzled by your previous comment (on post 27) so I really didn't have an answer. Sometimes the drawings do not show every detail to be realized in the actual construction, so maybe that is the difference you are seeing?


  4. Jamie,

    thanks for the comment. Who knows what will happen, though I'd be delighted if other people were inspired from my ideas about how a drawer can be constructed and ran with the concept.


  5. CHRIS;
    Thanx! Picture just shows a 45 after put together where going together no 45 is visible! Great work!

  6. Hey Chris,

    For the male hammerhead piece, I take it you had to cut twice? Once on each side of the hammerhead?

    Just trying to visualize how you make such a thing.

    Matt Hegedus

  7. Matt,

    yes, at least two cuts would be required, if you had the correct (custom-made) cutter, however I didn't have such a cutter so it was 4 cuts, 2 each side, to form the male portions.


Anything to add?

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: