2 Replies to “A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (65)”

  1. I have really enjoyed these drawers since you designed them for the original iteration of this cabinet and put them to use on your side table. It's an encouraging departure from the usual dovetail drawers that, while beautiful and appealing (I use them regularly, so I do say that honestly), do not inspire creativity. I unknowingly built an NK drawer about ten years ago that still works as it did on day one. It's impossible to know what the future brings, but if anything I think you've given these drawers the chance to survive for an incredibly long time.

  2. Brian,

    thanks for the comment. While I respect the craftsmanship of cleanly-done dovetails, in western furniture I find the dovetailed drawer a rather hackneyed element at this point. On many pieces, they are a conspicuous display of joinery while the rest of the piece is put together without any joinery. In other words, a form of false advertising. It reminds me of new bicycles which come with a flashy rear derailleur or handlebar stem to distract from the fitting of cheap hubs, spokes, and other components that are less obvious to immediate view (but which have significant import to the performance and durability of the bike).

    I wanted to see if there was another way to put a drawer together besides dovetailed corners, and found the NK design idea sensible. Everything else on these cabinets I am making is joinery-based, so I feel no urge to conspicuously display dovetails on the drawer corners to make up for an absence of joinery elsewhere.

    The principle advantages of the NK system are a much larger wearing surface on the underside and the fact that the drawer sides are nowhere near rubbing on the insides of the carcase opening. The only disadvantage I see is that the sides, being inboard some amount, reduce the interior volume of the drawer, but I think that is a minor trade-off really, like single-pane versus double-pane glass in a window.

    While I've satisfied myself that these drawers can be made essentially glue-less, I also have found that, with a small use of glue, the design detailing can be varied to suit different aesthetics and still be a joined form of drawer construction.

    And if one wants to make an inexpensive version, it is easy to do so by eschewing the joinery altogether and gluing them up and applying a plywood bottom, as many of the factory made NK drawers were/are done.

    For me, this is the way I will always build drawers. It just makes a lot of sense.


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