Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sketchup Model of The Joiner and Cabinet Maker's Chest of Drawers

A few month ago I read the Lost Art Press (LAP) book "The Joiner and Cabinet Maker" and really enjoyed it.  As many of you know, this book was originally written in 1837 and follows Thomas through his apprenticeship in a woodworking shop and through three projects he builds.  The original author is unknown.
Photo from LAP website
In addition to the original text, Chris Schwarz and Joel Moskowitz give some historical perspective and Chris gives his account of building the projects.

While I have no plans (at least not right now) to build any of the three projects from the book, I wanted to create a Sketchup model of the Chest of Drawers in case I decided to try it later.  Working on this model off and on for a few months, I used the Chris' descriptions (not the ones from the original text) in the book to guide me and when things were unclear I was helped by the book's many photos.
Joiner and Cabinet Maker's Chest of Drawers
I contacted LAP about whether or not I could offer my Sketchup model to others and they said it was OK.  Since I contacted them, they offered their own Sketchup models of the projects from the book.  For the chest of drawers, there are a few differences between their model and mine and I'm not certain which is correct.

One difference concerns how the back is let in to the case.  In my model, the rear-most of the three top rails (that are joined to the sides with half-blind dovetails) is flush with the bottom of the rabbet cut in the sides.  In the LAP model, this rear-most top rail is flush with the back edge of the sides and has a rabbet of its own to accept the back.  Pics from the book show I have the top rail position right, but that leaves the frame and panel back flush with the top of the rail - not let in to something.
Upper left of back of chest
The LAP file includes some front to back members between top rails.  These would keep the top drawers from tilting down when they are pulled out, but these front to back pieces are not mentioned in the text that I can find.
LAP file, top removed to show top rails and front to back pieces
One final thing I'm confused about is how the glue blocks are installed on the feet.  The LAP file shows solid strips of 1" square blocking in three directions, though the book shows three segments in different grain orientations for the vertical glue block.
LAP file, underside of chest looking at inside foot detail
The grain on the feet runs horizontal, so the upper two glue blocks can be glued directly to the feet. But one of them must be glued cross grain to the underside of the chest.  I don't know how that is dealt with.  For the vertical glue block, if I understand Chris' explanation, it will be in three sections as follows: the top section has grain oriented horizontally and has end grain to the right half of the foot, the second section has grain oriented horizontally and has end grain to the left portion of the foot, and the bottom section has vertically oriented grain which is cross-grain glued to the feet members.  This makes it so that there is minimal cross-grain gluing and the tougher end grain that wears well will be at the bottom of the cabinet touching the floor.  The next picture explains this (hopefully).
Foot glue block detail showing orientation of each piece
My intention is to share this model with others who may want to use it.  I think the only thing I'm missing is the knobs.  Oh, and I haven't shown any dimensions - you'll have to use the tape measure tool for that.

If I can figure out how to attach a Sketchup file to this post I'll do it.  Otherwise, you can contact me. I'm not sure how to keep 'net anonymity (so that nobody gets their e-mail address stolen) when contacting.  Any suggestions?

EDIT 27-May-2016: There's no way to attach the file to the blog post, so I've added a "Contact Me" button on the blog.  You can send me a message and I'll reply via e-mail with the Sketchup file.


  1. When you set up your blogspot account, you had to use a gmail address, that one should be visible somewhere on your blog or you should have a contact me button or something. That way they can contact you off line and their email wont show.

    Bob, who hasnt had his first coffee yet

    1. Thanks Bob. I've added a "contact me" gadget and tested it. Looks like it works perfectly.

  2. I'll have to try the Contact Me button. The best I have been able to come up with is to post a JPEG image of my email address. That seems to keep the spam bots at bay, but anyone who wants to find it has to dig through my old posts that have it.