This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
The drawer sides for a first-class job are of cedar 5/8 in. thick. The grooves for the bottoms should not be run in this 5/8-in. side for a good job, but in a clamp glued to the side, as shown in n. The drawer backs may be of 5/8-in. pine, and the bottoms of 3/8-in. pine, but this thickness would be too weak without a centre mounter.
This mounter is a bar of wood 3 in. broad and 5/8 in. thick, passing across the centre of the drawer from front to back, and dividing the bottom into halves. It has grooves in its edges to receive the bottom, a pair of 1/2-in. match ploughs being used - one to make a groove in the mounter, and the other a feather on the edge of the bottom, the whole being flush on the upper or inside. A 1/8-in. bead is run on the mounter on this inside to abut against the drawer bottoms. This is called breaking the joint, and makes a neat finish inside the drawer, s shows this mounter and bottoms, the manner of grooving in, and the upper or inner side with the beaded joint.
The drawer fronts have a groove, corresponding to those in the sides, to receive the bottoms. The backs are so much narrower, and the bottoms nailed to them by 1 1/2in. brads. The direction of the grain of these bottoms runs lengthway of the drawers; consequently the end wood of the bottoms enters the grooves in sides and mounters.
The drawers are dovetailed, and put together in the usual manner. The bottoms are put in and filleted - that is, fillets are rubbed in with glue in the junction of the sides and bottoms, and afterwards planed off flush with the edges and sides, a few short ones being glued along the front in the same way. Of these latter, one at each and is of mahogany, or other hard wood, these being to act against "stops" nailed to the shelves in the carcase, to stop the drawers at their proper places.
It may be mentioned that fillets for drawer bottoms are in many cases omitted, and in good jobs, too, particularly when the bottoms are of American ash, which wood is very liable to shrink or expand with dry or damp situations, and the bottoms are left unfilleted to allow of this movement. But if the wood is as well seasoned as it should be, little or no change in the breadth of the bottoms will take place, and a drawer is infinitely better filleted.
When fitting the drawers in the carcase, no more should be taken off the breadth of the drawer sides than will just admit them between the shelves, as when too much is planed off at first they can never be a satisfactory job. The proper method is to plane the under side of the drawers - which is the edges of the sides and fillets, and also the short fillets along the front - all even and flush, using a straight-edge to get these 2 edges in relation to each other to be out of winding. Then set a gauge to the breadth of the drawer front, and gauge the breadth of the sides from the bottom. When the sides are planed down to this mark, they should enter the opening between the shelves, though somewhat tightly. Next the 2 sides or ends of the drawers are planed down till the end wood of the front and back are touched at the dovetails. The drawers should enter the carcase lengthway as well as breadthway. They are all pushed in in this way, till the fronts are nearly flush with the face of the carcase; the fronts are drawn all round with a draw-point, and planed down on the bench to this mark.
The method is to place 2 pieces of board across the bench, letting them project over the front 7 or 8 in., and fastening them at the back with hand-screws. The drawer is hung on the ends of the boards, with its fore end fixed in the bench lug, and in this position is planed and toothed. When planing, the front must be perfectly level across the ends. It will do no harm if a little round at the centre; the veneer has a tendency to draw the face hollow after a time.
As a rule, the base is veneered on what is termed the "banding" system - that is, the grain of the veneer runs up and down, not the lengthway of the base. This is a false principle in construction, because a base made of solid wood, with the grain upright, would be simply ridiculous. The method is resorted to for 2 reasons: It is easier done; and it is a means of using up small pieces of broken veneer, as any may be used if long enough to cover the breadth of the base.
Two blocks have now to be made for this base, similar to the one shown detached at e. They are 6 in. broad, 3 in. thick, semicircular on the ends, and are better built of several layers of wood, as shown in the figure, as they do not split or change their shape so readily as when made in one piece; 3 pieces, long enough to make both blocks, are glued together, drawn on the ends with compasses, and carefully planed down to a semicircle, after which they are toothed for veneering. Before veneering, these blocks should be sized with a coat of very thin hot glue applied all over the surface to be veneered upon. When this is quite dry it is again lightly toothed. The best method to veneer these blocks is with a canvas bag and screws (see Fig. 687, p. 360). This method is only suitable when the rest of the base is veneered on the banding principle; for the grain of the veneer runs up and down on the block, so it must run in the same direction on the rest of the base. To veneer the base with banding, strip the edges of each piece with the plane on the shooting board; then lay one piece at a time with the veneering hammer.
The first piece being laid, the second is fitted against it and rubbed down, pressing against the piece previously laid, to ensure a close joint.
When the veneer is dry, which will be in about 24 hours, the front only is to be planed, scraped, and sandpapered, the over wood at the edges being previously pared off with a sharp chisel. When the veneered piece for blocks is cut in two, a portion of the veneer at the inner edge is planed and papered. The veneer on the front of the base is cut to exactly the breadth of the back of the block, so that the veneer on the block and that on the end of the base will coincide, forming one surface, and, at the same time, a close joint. The blocks thus fitted are glued on, using hand-screws to ensure close contact. When the glue is hard, the upper edges of the base and blocks are planed quite level, and the end wood of the blocks receives a coat of glue size before veneering. A piece of veneer 3 in. broad is laid along the front, and 2 additional pieces over the ends of blocks. The strips of veneer along the ends of the base are 2 in. broad. When the glueing of these is hard, the whole base is cleaned off, scraped and sandpapered. After which, provision is made for attaching 4 turned feet by fitting 2 3-cornered pieces in the back corners or under side of base, and clamping 2 pieces inside the front, immediately behind the circular blocks.
The ball feet have tenons turned on them, which fit into holes bored in the base.