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Old 09-05-2011, 04:54 PM
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Default More questions than answers

Another update on the Military Chests ...

I am still working on preparing the drawer parts preparatory to dovetailing and assembly. It feels like I will never get there. 12 drawers at one time is more than I've done together before (6 was my previous record, and then the construction was Shaker).

Over the weekend I completed the slips, cut the drawer sides to length, and completed the drawer backs. The slips ...





All the parts are now done with the exception of the drawer bottoms. I have decided to make and fit these last. Usually I would fit them immediately after dovetailing the 4 sides, as it is a way of squaring the drawer. In this case, I am concerned about having too many planed boards lying around and their potential to cup. I have a jig that will ensure that the drawer is square as the glue dries. Comment?

All the parts ...



The second of three questions I throw open to the forum is about the next stage in the drawer build. Before I dovetail the drawers I need to fit the drawer handles. These are to be recessed into the drawer front, so I plan to complete the mortices first, dovetail the drawers, then attach the handles.

I researched these handles quite a bit, discovering that they were now all made in India - even the ones said to be made in the UK. I was fortunate to discover that one of the local Perth stores that specialised in brass had a few of the different versions in stock. Philip Marcou gave me some tips on what to look out for. All of these handles are cast brass, which then requires finishing. It appears that some companies flattened the tops with a belt sander, with the result that the plate were not flat but curved. There would be signoficant difficulties recessing curved plates into flat drawer fronts. Indeed, all but one of the brass handles I looked at were rounded over. I ended with this ...



However, almost all the handles are slightly wavy at the edges ...





Here is the question: Do I leave them as is, or do I straighten them (on my disk sander)? Straightening them makes it easier to fit in the drawer front, but this may alter some of the "handmade look". Opinion?

The third question relates to the dovetail design. I ran up a couple of mock fronts. I shall mention my own preferences, but it hearing yours would be helpful in firming up the best design. And, of course, you may suggest something else.

The first was simply to create an even set. I like this, but it is my second choice ...



My preference goes to a simpler, less cluttered look ...



The third version did not come out as I intended - the dovetails look a little too skinny. I thought the centre two dovetails from the second example should have been closer, but then also I made them even slimmer. I think that was a mistake. However, let me know what you think of the spacing ..



Regards from Perth

Derek
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Old 09-05-2011, 05:09 PM
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Default Re: More questions than answers

Hi Derek,

Very interesting posts. First, I have to admit that I don't know what the slips are, or how they function in the drawer. Of course I could look it up, but it's more fun to make someone else do the explaining...

Second, I like dovetails A or B. The spacing of C makes me uncomfortable somehow. It just looks unbalanced to me.

I would probably go with straightening the sides of the handles so that they could fit nicely into rectangular mortises. Nobody will see the sides anyway, and gaps in the mortise sides will look messy.
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Old 09-08-2011, 09:56 AM
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Default Re: More questions than answers

Hi Derek,

I don't think it really matters whether you make the drawer bottoms now or later. That was the question, right? However, thicknessing the drawer bottoms to match the groove would be easier before the drawer is assembled unless you have offcuts.

I have a bunch of those recessed handles and have installed them on a few boxes. They serve well as lifting handles. However, I have never recessed them so they are completely flush and I'm not sure why you want to do that. I recess the rough cast part, then screw the handle on so the plate remains proud. However, if you do want to set the handle entirely flush, then definitely straighten the edges.

Regarding the dovetail layout, I like #1 best, then #2, then #3.

PS: Did you get my e-mail I sent you a couple days ago?
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:09 AM
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Default Re: More questions than answers

Somehow I missed this thread; my Derek alert must have been disabled briefly

For having the panels around... you have a different climate than I have although I'll admit that my super-dry climate can cup a board pretty quickly if you plane one side flat then come back a couple hours later. That said, though, the usual idea of taking equal amounts off both surfaces seems to work well. I have an unfinished panel of curly Maple I pulled out two weeks ago and it was still dead flat. Once I planed and thicknessed it, I left it leaning up against the bench for several days so the surfaces would dry to "ambient" evenly.

One thing I've taken to doing lately, though, is bagging. When I take significant amounts of stock off a board, even unevenly, I put it in a plastic garbage bag until I need it. Silly, but works. The sculpted vanity fronts I'm doing now take huge amounts of stock variably from one surface. All 3 panels stayed flat. One day I finished sanded that surface and didn't bag it and got a small cup, but the cup actually works in my favor so I'm happy with it.

All that said, I think you could prep your drawer bottoms now, or at least do them in parallel with all the drawer work just to mix it up a little.


I like dovetails "B"; I like that they aren't evenly spaced. I agree that "C" look too narrow, like an anorexic Ian Kerby.


Wow, I had to go back to read the other question. I like the hardware you got and agree the curvy edges will give it a nice look. I don't think it would look good if you straightened them. You'll be scribing each to the drawer to mark the final size so it seems like a little more work will let you scribe the mortise to the hardware. That would look exceptional. Bummer they all got off-shored, though I guess "made in UK" is off-shore for both of us.


For Poto, drawer slips are just straight sticks with a groove glued on the inside of the drawer. Not a new thing, quite old, actually. Groove holds the bottom panel. Has a nice look; usually the top of the slip is angled or beveled down so there isn't some step there. The benefit is that you can layout the dovetails however you like since you don't have to ensure the groove in the sides goes through a tail to be hidden on the side. In Derek's half-blind fronts, he doesn't have to do a stopped groove for the panel in the front since there'll be a slip there (I've heard that varied; I assume Derek is doing that).

I could see how slips would greatly make the panel groove easier to deal with, especially in an all hand-tool shop since stopped grooves are more a router thing Plus you could send your apprentice into the other room with a load of sticks to groove and keep a stock.
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:24 AM
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Default Re: More questions than answers

I much prefer layout "B" and I wouldn't straighten the drawer pulls nor inset them beyond the curved part -- for a more rustic, handmade look.
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:05 AM
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Default Re: More questions than answers

It's "B" for me too

As Paul mentioned, bagging or wrapping parts helps keep them from cupping.
I've wrapped drawer parts in stretchy film wrap a number of times, and it does work.
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Old 09-08-2011, 02:28 PM
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Default Re: More questions than answers

Sorry about the mis-shapen pulls. Un-flat, un-square, un-parallel.
Unless you want to regrind the faces flat and square up the edges I'd go with partially recessing them. Leave the rounded edges above the surface. Even that will be a pain since the excavation will be an inconsistent depth to support the metal. Another option is an even (deeper than needed) excavation and epoxy filler to get the bedding okay. Like setting a natural stone tile in mortar.

I prefer the dovetails in A. B is okay but the direction in size change A > B > C is the wrong direction (for me). The tails should get bigger towards the center of the joint rather than smaller. If you're going to drop from 4 tails to three make the center tail largest. Just the opinion of someone who prefers not to cut dovetails, but does like the look.
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Old 09-08-2011, 05:05 PM
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Default Re: More questions than answers

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelKellough View Post
Sorry about the mis-shapen pulls. Un-flat, un-square, un-parallel.
Unless you want to regrind the faces flat and square up the edges I'd go with partially recessing them. Leave the rounded edges above the surface. Even that will be a pain since the excavation will be an inconsistent depth to support the metal. Another option is an even (deeper than needed) excavation and epoxy filler to get the bedding okay. Like setting a natural stone tile in mortar.

I prefer the dovetails in A. B is okay but the direction in size change A > B > C is the wrong direction (for me). The tails should get bigger towards the center of the joint rather than smaller. If you're going to drop from 4 tails to three make the center tail largest. Just the opinion of someone who prefers not to cut dovetails, but does like the look.
I agree, similar to glass bedding a rifle barrel into a stock. ACRAGLAS GEL - Brownells
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Old 09-09-2011, 06:25 AM
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Default Re: More questions than answers

"Here is the question: Do I leave them as is, or do I straighten them (on my disk sander)? Straightening them makes it easier to fit in the drawer front, but this may alter some of the "handmade look". Opinion?

Surely you can find better than those in Australia?
If I were forced to use those *(seen many like them, some even worse,and mostly avoided them), I would square the edges with my disc sander which improves the appearance and makes them easier to fit. If there is huge variation in thickness (looking at the edges) I think it is best to arrive at an average depth to recess them and rout all recesses to this depth, with the other protuberances routed at the total thickness of the thickest one (<). The some will be above level and others below so you mask that by some chamfer filing in the first case and some hand sanding of the borders in the second case, giving you that hand Macgyvered look, Derek....
* Some customers came up with their own fittings and I had to use them.
The truth is that inferior cast fittings are more trouble than they are worth, but on the other hand, if there is enough "meat" and the castings are not with defects such as voids etc then you can re-finish them if you have the patience and the means such as belt grinder (yes, again) , buffing wheels etc.
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Old 09-09-2011, 06:35 AM
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Default Re: More questions than answers

"The third question relates to the dovetail design. I ran up a couple of mock fronts. I shall mention my own preferences, but it hearing yours would be helpful in firming up the best design. And, of course, you may suggest something else"

I think they are supposed to be chunky type dovetails , for strength, but ofcourse you can do what pleases .
I usually did them like the ones pictured and you should be able to comfortably make four drawers in one day like that.
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