A Square Deal (29)

Twenty-ninth post in an on-going series.


Onward with the drawer construction and fitting. I kinda thought that today would see me through to the completion of the drawer, but no cigar.

I started by checking the fit of the drawer side and floor assembly to the frame, to ascertain how much clearance I currently had between the side of the runner and the leg:

Seven thousandths of an inch isn’t much – certainly too close for a satisfactory ‘real world’ fit. I needed to clearance the fit so that with the lateral wear strips installed, the drawer runner would clear each side’s post by a hundredth of an inch or thereabouts. I made up a simple sizing template, and proceeded to narrow the existing floor panel down in increments until I had the spacing between runners where it needed to be.

After re-establishing the floor pan’s rebate on the sides, I reassembled the unit to check clearances, hoping to have gained about two hundredths of an inch:

It’s a little hard to read in the photo, but that is a 0.025″ feeler gauge in there, so target dimension was accomplished.

Then I turned to fitting the drawer’s front piece to the frame. I used a Kapex crosscut saw to get close tot the mark, and then turned to an improvised shooting board to trim to a more exacting fit. I prefer to use a shooting board vertically, as it is much more relaxing to use a plane in the downward position than a horizontal one as with conventional shooting boards:

End grain shavings emerge from the Funahiro Kōshun smoothing plane:

Tasty. Probably be nice on sushi – hah!

Drawer front fitted for width, I set it aside to work on the drawer runner wear strips, moving them closer to where they needed to be. In the following photo, you can see how the horizontal wear strip and the vertical one fit to each other with a rebate:

To assemble, the vertical wear strip is fitted to the rebate and the assembly is tilted and slid, then snap! – into place:

In position – the horizontal wear strip is one hundredth of an inch proud of the stretcher in front, while the vertical wear strip is left a bit chubby for the time being:


The horizontal wear strip was then cleaned up a bit and I fitted the fasteners, 8-32 stainless pan head Allen screws. Here, I’m tapping the thread:

That’s a highly unofficial tap handle you’e seeing there – pay no mind. Some would say it is a prototype of a new kind of tap handle. Maybe something the world is still not ready for….

Tapping complete and the stainless screws are fitted:

Another view:

The screws are slightly recessed into the surface of the wear strip, and I also plan to relieve the surface of the drawer runner in the middle portion with a rounded dado so there is zero chance it will rub on the screws – ever.

I had intended to secure the vertical wear strips with screws as well, however #8 machine screw heads are a little too large for the available space, so I’ll need to obtain some #6 screws instead:

With the horizontal wear strips in place and at the required height, I could fit the drawer lower edge to the opening, and after accomplishing that, could trim the upper edge to the line:

Here’s the drawer front sitting in position after fitting:

Another view, with the drawer panel slid forward a little so the fitting line to the stretcher is more evident:

How about a closer look at the interface?:

A while later, mortises appeared in the front panel, as if by magic:

The other side:

That’s as far as I got today. Hopefully tomorrow should see completion of drawer fitting. Thanks for your visit to the Carpentry Way. Comments always welcome. Onward if you dare: post 30

16 thoughts on “A Square Deal (29)

  1. I am loving this drawer, but I am having to let the use of the allen screws stew in my brain for awhile because (even though they will not be seen) they are metal and not like the rest of the piece. I love the 3 way joint and rails.

  2. Paul,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I know exactly what you mean in regards to the Allen screws, and I did consider this matter carefully. I use those fasteners with the utmost of reservations, yet, after thinking over various ways to accomplish the task, they emerged as the most straightforward and pragmatic solution. I can't see a means of attaching the wear strips to the rest of the piece using wooden joinery in a way that made much sense.

    I could have made the drawer support pieces out of solid lignum vitae, however the material is an insane price and really needs to be used as sparingly as possible. In the same vein, would have preferred to have used bubinga for the drawer runners, and attached the wear strips to the runners as well, however that would likely have meant making the runners thicker and clunkier.

    The advantage to the wear strip approach is in the tune-ability and ready replace-ability, and those virtues took center stage after thinking about it a while. Thinking about someone down the line wishing to adjust the drawers, I think the replaceable wear strips fastened with screws present the simplest set up for them to have to deal with. If it is to be a serviceable component, the means of servicing should be readily apprehendable it seems to me.

    I know that you won't find Ming Chinese furniture with screws fitted, however they did use metal hinges as well as all-wood hinges, depending upon the type of cabinet, so there was an acceptance of using metal in their furniture to a certain extent. I think it likely that if precisely-made screws existing in the 1500's the craftsmen of the period might have made use of them – who knows?

    The cabinet will also have metal leveler feet (bronze) and a metal drawer knob (wrought iron) fitted, so, like it or not, some metal will be involved in this piece. The screws are part of that, uh, 'alien presence'. Hah!

    I like metal, truth be told. I think I prefer, to use another example, a timber truss with metal tension rods to an all-wood truss. It's just logical to use metal in certain places, regardless of how 'purist' my desires about only using wood are otherwise.


  3. JT,

    lignum vitae is one of the most amazing woods on the planet, for many reasons, appearance being one of the least important funny enough. Thanks for your comment!


  4. The BLOG is serious – you can tell TAP handles. A lumber joke for you…

    A blind man walks into a lumberyard and asks for a job. The manager looks at him and says, “what job could I possibly give you that you could do?” The blind man says, “I can identify any wood by smell.”

    First, the manager decides to test him. He holds up a board up under the blind man's nose. The blind man takes one whiff and says, “Cherry. Don't waste my time.”

    Then, the manager holds up another board under the blind man's nose. The blind man takes one whiff and says, “Pine. From Maine. Cut down 3 days ago.”

    The manager is amazed so he decides to give him one more test. He picks up his wife and holds her under the blind man's nose. The man sniffs once and then sniffs again. Slowly he says, “Turn it over.”

    The manager turns his wife over. The blind man sniffs again and says, “Turn it back over.” The manager does so and the blind man sniffs one last time.

    Finally, the blind man says, “Aaaah, see, you're trying to fool a blind man. That's a shithouse door off an old tuna boat.”

  5. Chris, thanks for the idea of the vertical shooting board – never crossed my mind, looks much nicer to use than horizontal (for some situatios at least).

    Love the build so far, all the hidden complexity is awesome to see as it comes together.

  6. Shaun,

    thanks for the comment – appreciate it!

    As for the vertical shooting board, the one shown about was kind of a re-purposed jig originally used for something else entirely, so I wouldn't call it any sort of a model example or anything. Obviously, just like a normal shooting board, it could utilize many improvements, but it sufficed for the job this time.

    I don't find myself using a shooting board too often though as many of the joints I like to work have more complex surfaces than the plain butt (or mitered) end of a board, surfaces which don't lend themselves so well to shooting operation, so I more often trim the end surfaces using a paring guide.


  7. Hi Chris,
    with all this precision going into the joinery, is the finish going to play havoc with it? Will not the finish build up change all of that? Or have you already factored that into this?

  8. Ralph,

    thanks for the comment and questions. I'm trying to think about places where a tight fit might be affected by the finish on this piece, and since the above post concerns the drawer, perhaps you are referencing this aspect most particularly? If so…

    -the drawer front is currently fitted very close to the surrounding frame, however once the front is assembled to the rest of the drawer and the entire drawer fitted to the table, the clearances will be increased to whatever is appropriate given anticipated season movement. I intend the drawer to ride on the lignum vitae runners and wear strips, and that the front panel shouldn't be touching any of the surrounding parts. At least that's the intent and hopefully it will be realized! If the drawer front fitting was left as it is now, then the drawer would bind at a more humid time of year and the finish would be rubbing otherwise, so rest assured that isn't how the fit will be left after all is said and done.

    -the lignum vitae runners and wear strips will not have any finish on them. The lignum vitae will perform well even if left with minimal gaps. I'll adjust the fit of the side wear strips to the runners until the drawer has an easy sliding yet non-rattly action.

    -the table-to-leg joinery should accommodate any build-up of finish on the top, apron, or pillow blocks.

    -with the mortise and tenon joinery, the surfaces inside the joints won't have a finish on them, so it won't affect the fit

    -where the stretchers join the leg, the leg surface will have only a modest build up of finish before the stretcher goes on, so I doubt that will affect the joinery.

    Never had a problem with the finish affecting tight fitting joinery tolerances.I can see how it could in some way, however I think I am anticipating this situation and am not worried about it.


  9. Sylvain,

    thanks for those links! I am familiar with miter jacks, however that one featured on benchcrafted was quite a masterwork. I'm feeling a hankering to build one now!


  10. For the triangular jaws of the miter jack, I suspect they are made in two pieces (with finger joints) for good reasons.
    Clamping between the top of the triangles would probably split the wood if the grain were parallel to the screw.

    The sketchup made by Benchcrafted doesn't take this feature in consideration altough it is visible on the catalog page of “La Forge Royale”.

Anything to add?