Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mini Chest With Drawers - Part 2

This post describes making the mortises (too briefly - not enough pics) in the drawer dividers that will house the runners on which the drawers will slide.  Also, the back of the carcase is rabbeted to accept 1/4" boards that will enclose the back.

The stock for the drawer rails and runners is 1/2" thick.  If a 3/16" chisel was available for the mortise, that would've been nice.  A 1/8" mortise would be too small and the 1/4" would leave thin walls.  Given the low stress application, 1/4" was chosen.
Starting the mortise - I'm sitting directly in line with the board
Recently I've been reading older entries from Dennis Laney's excellent blog "A Woodworker's Musings".  He's a very talented woodworker and has been in the craft over 50 years.  He wrote about aligning your body and eye with the length of the board when mortising to help keep the chisel vertical, so I had to try it out.  Normally the board is cross-ways to my eye.  It took a little getting used to, but worked fine.
Four of the eight mortises
A 1/4" shoulder was left at the end so as not to get too close to the dovetail.  There is only a 1/8" shoulder at left to maximize the width of the tenon.  The plan is to glue the runner tenons into the front rail mortises, but the back rail mortises will have no glue.  The runners have a cross-grain situation with the case sides and not gluing the back rails to the runners will allow the case sides to move freely with moisture changes.

The back was to be rabbeted all around to inset boards to close it in.  This was interesting for two reasons.  First, the side pieces could accept a through rabbet so I got to use my new-to-me Record #778 rabbet plane.  The rabbets in the 3/4" stock were 1/2" wide and 1/4" deep.
The #778 made quick work of these rabbets.
Second, the top and bottom boards were more challenging as stopped rabbets were required.  The width and depth of the rabbet had been marked with a wheel-type marking gauge.
Top marked for stopped rabbet
From the picture, you can see where the rabbet stops there is little support for chopping, so the stopped rabbet was stopped even shorter and the rest will be chiseled out when the carcase is glued together.

A method was used from Lost Art Press' "The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years" books, chiseling out (bevel down) a triangular cross section close to the layout lines.
Chiseling at an angle to the lines (ignore the more completed section at right)
Then a series of chops were made to loosen the waste.  Richard McGuire did a stopped rabbet this way (but without the angled chiseling).
Chops straight down every 1/8"
Chiseling out the waste was very easy.
Chiseling out the waste
Finally, the walls were pared with the help of the gauge lines.  Note that the ends of the rabbet have not been touched.  This was much easier than I thought it would be.
Chiseling to the width gauge line
Chiseling to the depth gauge line
Et voila, a stopped rabbet
Fast-forward past the glue-up, here is the remaining piece that still needs to be removed.
Last bit that needs to be removed
Now that the wood is supported, there is much more confidence about chopping without damaging the last pin.
After a few chops and clean-up
And finally, level with the rest of the rabbet
Reversing gear to the glue-up, that was a slightly hair raising thing.  Even though it was rehearsed a bunch, a big mistake was still almost made.  Note to self: when gluing up a dovetailed box, always glue up two pin boards with one tail board first.  Then add the other tail board.  This way, the two boards don't need to be pried apart to fit in the last board.

The carcase material was fairly cupped - about 1/16" to 1/8" - so a method was needed to clamp out the cup.  The cup was on the inside faces - the outside faces were bellied.  First a couple of dovetail-shaped clamping cauls were made.
Clamping caul in place
Then a couple of blocks were taped to the sides of the pin boards in the middle.  In the following picture the center parallel clamp is pulling the pin board cups tight.  A couple parallel clamps were also added top and bottom in this photo to pull the end pins in tight.
The clamping - when the glue set, the other side was done
The glue-up was very successful, removing practically all cup.  I had been looking forward to this so that the joints could be planed and the dovetails really evaluated.
Dovetails cleaned up
Very happy with this.  This was probably the best corner.  Some others were a little gappy, but not too bad.

Later the drawer dividing rails and runners were glued into place.
Rails and runners glued in
In the next two photos, you can see that the shoulder of the runner tenon is not seated into the rear rail mortise.  No glue was used so that when the carcase expands and contracts the runner can float.  There is about 3/8" of tenon in the mortise and about 1/8" of tenon out of the mortise.
Back view - note the runner shoulder is not touching the back rail
Closer view of runner and back rail

Next it's on to making and fitting drawers - coming soon.


  1. Replies
    1. Me too. Unfortunately I'll have to wait until next week to make the drawers - the wife and I are heading to Oregon starting tonight for a few days with her old best friend. When I get back to it I'll be using the fitting techniques that I read about in "The Woodworker" and saw on Sellers' videos.

  2. Matt,
    that's a great description of making a stopped rabbet. I will try the hint with that last bit next time.
    The chest is coming along nicely.