Wednesday, April 24, 2013

18th Century Drawer Construction

I thought I would share the rest of the steps for constructing a drawer as they did in the second half of the 18th century, the source for my information comes from this wonderful book.

Here you can see all the pieces for the drawer, the base, front and back, sides and inside dividers. The front and sides has a tiny 0.6mm groove along the bottom edge for the bottom of the drawer to slide in as well as grooves for the dividers. The base of the drawer is 1mm thick and tapers on three of the edges to 0.5mm.

I used a 3.1mm hart 70 degree bur for cutting the taper on the drawer base. Never try and cut the full width in one cut, you will put too much strain on both your tool and piece of wood. I normally set the full depth and then go wider until the desired finished width in a few cuts. Here you can see I started by cutting almost nothing, I increased the width by 0.2mm for each cut until I have gone in a total of 1mm. For the last 0.5mm I added 0.1mm for each cut, it sounds slower than what it really is.

Here I am doing the last cut, you can see on the top left hand corner that the wood has split a bit even though I was so careful, fortunately I measured wrong and they were too long in any case and I could get rid of the split :-), some mistakes counts in your favor, but that doesn't happen often.

Because of the way the dovetails work, you have to slip the sides into the back and front, here the first side is glued in place.

After the second side is glued in place you can slide the base in, the back has been cut lower so that the base slides over it. In real drawers the base is just slid in place and then nailed into the back, since the wood is so thin I didn't try and nail it, I used glue all around. Because of the taper the base is nice and flush with the bottom edges of the front and sides.

The last step was to glue in the little dividers, because of the blind groove in the front I glued in the small dividers first and then the big one after dry-fitting and making sure everything is nice and square before grabbing the glue bottle.

Finished drawers, the one on the top is just less than 5mm high and I used a 1mm inverted cone bur for these dovetails.

Enjoy the rest of the week


Catherine said...

Such exact work and always done perfectly.

Elga... Please look at this video of this desk. I know you will love or at least appreciate the work. It took 11 years to make it. I am sure I don't have to tell you that it was all done with hand tools.

Elga said...

Thank you Catherine, I have seen this video and have it saved on my computer, there was an exhibition of this furniture at the MET in NYC awhile ago, maybe one day I will make one of the smaller pieces, there are nice photos on the museum's website.

miraclechicken said...

Thanks for showing your procedure Elga it is very interesting. Love the results :)

otterine said...

You amaze me with your fabulously detailed woodworking! I'm testing my patience cutting large pieces...I just can't imagine doing such fine work. Bravo, my friend!

MelyMel said...

Elga è un lavoro incredibile! Grazie per averlo condiviso,

Idske said...

Thank you for showing the rest of drawer construction. You're making it a lot easier for me, with all of these photos! It is so satisfying to make these properly, but I think 5mm high drawers are some way along my road to mastering this!

Dorien Litjes said...

Dear Elga,
Thanks for sharing. I wished you lived next door. I would pay you a lot of visits and bringing coffee and cake. I think you locked your door ;-)
Hugs Dorien

Christine said...

Absolutely fascinating! You are truly creating heirlooms.

Fi.P said...

Elga, you are so clever, you precision and patience is admirable, such beautiful are a true talent.


Steinworks said...

all I can say is wow..I wish I had your talent!

Chas Brennan said...

Your skill is amazing Elga. I love reading about your projects, you never seem to back off from any challenge!

jeffry said...

Hi Elga,
Thank you for the wonderfull explanation! I don't see myself doing al that work at this time but who knows....we keep on learning.

John said...

This is so interesting to me --I have GOT to get me some better tools! Thanks for sharing, Elga!

Natalia's Fine Needlework said...

Elga, congratulations on achieving great results making dovetails and thank you for this tutorial. have a great weekend!

Ilona said...

Elga, thank you for showing this procedure to us. It is clear to me: it will took me a lot of time to learn about this kind of wood work. I admire your skills more and more, the drawer is amazing.
Groete, Ilona

Andy said...

As usual, your miniatures have left me in awe Elga!

I do admire your ability to create such accurate, careful work! The dovetailing is sublime!

And these are just the drawers!!! can't wait to see the rest!!

Andy x