Rosewood Studio, Week 5 – Drawer making

Week 5 of my 6 week study at Rosewood Studio was focused on drawer making.  A whole week to build a drawer?  Well when it’s made of solid wood and fitted to a shaker table, it takes a little longer than simply slapping some metal drawer slides onto an mdf box like ikea does…  Unlike ikea, the drawer front won’t fall off in a year, nor will the bottom sag, and the slightest bit of water won’t turn the entire thing into a pile of wet sawdust….

First part of this week involved fitting some runners for the drawer in my shaker table.  I used walnut simply because it matched the table and I had a bunch of scraps left over, however this part isn’t visible unless you are lying on the ground underneath the table.  Next it was onto the drawer building.

The drawer was made of walnut with a piece of birds eye maple for the front.  The sides are dovetailed (half blind on the front), and the drawer bottom is a few pieces of solid walnut laminated together to form a panel.  The front of the bottom panel is glued with the back edge being left unattached  for seasonal expansion and contraction.

Birds eye maple, while beautiful to look at, can be a bit of a pain to work with.  This particular piece had some cracks and of course very curly grain which made smoothing it very trying, however after many passes with a high angle plane and a card scraper (and some light sanding), it was eventually made smooth.  I spent almost an entire day perfecting this piece of wood, only to ruin it by cutting on the wrong side of the lines for my dovetails.  Thankfully the second attempt went much quicker.

Fitting the drawer was very finicky.  Not only does it need to slide in and out smoothly, but the reveal around the drawer opening has to be identical (9000ths of an inch).  While it was a huge pain to do, I was very pleased with the results and can honestly say I have never owned a piece of furniture that had such a smooth drawer!

The drawer was finished off with a simple walnut pull turned on the lathe.  I really enjoyed the lathe work (all 5 minutes of it… after-all it was only a pull), hopefully I can afford one in the future to add to my shop.  I put several layers of shellac on the drawer front and pull, but left the sides and bottom natural.

Next week is my last at Rosewood!  It’s gone so fast, wish I could stay for another 6!

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