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.
"When the veneers have dried for about 24 hours they may be cleaned off. They are always planed first with a high-pitched hand-plane, set very close, then scraped and sandpapered. The drawer in the surbase and that at the top are neatly fitted into their places. They should pull easily backwards and forwards and yet appear quite close both in length and breadth. The accuracy with which they are fitted when finished is a mark of excellence in the workmanship.
The 4 intermediate drawers receive cope beads. After the fronts are planed and sandpapered they are pushed in about 1/8 in. beyond the face of the carcase, when a small gauge is made to gauge the thickness to check for the beads. This gauge is a small block of hard wood with a steel point in it fully 1/8 in. from the edge. This gauge is passed all round each aperture in the carcase, the steel point making a mark on the drawer front the depth of the check to receive the beads. The checks are worked out with fillester and guillaume planes. That on the upper edge is made the whole thickness of the front, so that all the pine may be covered with the bead which now serves as a slip. The under edge and the 2 ends are not checked more than 5/8 in. from the face. The ends are sawn down with a dovetail saw, and worked to the gauge marks with an iron guillaume. The cope bead is bought in boards 3/16 in. thick; the strips are cut off with a cutting gauge, and must be broad enough to project about 1/4 in. over the veneered front. When putting them on they are wetted on the upper side with a sponge, then the glue is applied to the dry side, and also to the check, when the slip is placed in position and rubbed backwards and forwards, 2 persons being necessary in the operation.
When set in its place it should have a few rubs with a veneering hammer. To ascertain if it is "lying," the glue is scraped gently off along the drawer front with a chisel. When some parts are found not close it is usual to drive in fine brads, but this is a sign of defective workmanship, as no brads are allowed except in putting on the end beads. When a drawer front is slipped top and bottom in this way the glue must be very carefully washed off with a sponge and hot water, a chisel being used to scrape it along the junction of the front with the slip. When these slips are quite dry, the ends are cut off and planed flush with the drawer sides. Then the slips are stripped with the half-long plane on the sides, so that a thickness of fully 1/8 in. is left, the drawer lying on the bench during the operation. The drawer is then tried in its place in the carcase. It should fit perfectly close against the shelves above and below, at the same time not tightly, the drawer front being in flush with the face of the carcase. When the 4 drawers are fitted in this way, the next thing is to run the beads. This is done with the cope-bead plane. This is a small plane (v) with a hollow along the centre of the sole the size of the bead to be run.
The central portion is filled in with boxwood, in which the hollow is run. The drawer is now hung upon 2 boards on the bench, front up as before. The projecting edges of the slips are planed with a half-long till they stand above the front 1/8 in.; then they are rounded with the cope-bead plane, which is run till the sole of the plane touches the drawer front. This, of course, leaves the bead all of one height in its whole length. When the 2 beads are thus run, the drawer front is carefully papered, the beads included, using for the latter a small hollow cork, something like the sole of the plane shown. After all the drawers are thus treated, the end beads are put on. A piece of the cope-bead stuff is thinned to fully 1/8 in., the edge made straight, and rounded with the cope-bead plane; then a strip is cut off with a cutting gauge of the required breadth, which should be 5/8 in. This is cut into lengths to fit in between the long beads by mitring the one to the other and stripping to the exact breadth, so that the same height above the veneered front is obtained. When it lies close in the cheek, and also close at the mitres, it receives a little glue, and is nailed on with 3/4-in. fine brads, 3 or 4 to each.
These are punched below the flush, and the end beads are carefully stripped; again the drawer is fitted into the carcase, and should fit quite close at the ends also. When in flush, it will look like a plain panel with a bead all round.
Now the whole 6 drawers are in their places. If they feel too tight they should be gently stripped where tightest. This will be readily ascertained by going to the back of the carcase and looking through between the drawers and shelves or grounds. The fitting of these drawers, done as they ought to be, is considered a very nice job in the trade, but it is seldom that this is accomplished. The drawers, while they show-perfectly close all round the fronts, ought at the same time to pull out and push in with the utmost ease and freedom. This will only be the case when the carcase is perfect in construction, in which case the various shelves dividing the drawers are truly parallel with each other, and of the same width of aperture from front to back. The shelves must also be truly at right angles with the upright grounds - in other words, the carcase must be truly squared. Without these conditions the moving drawers, however well they in themselves may be made, can never be satisfactorily fitted into an ill-made carcase.
When the drawers have received their final stripping, they are carefully sandpapered on all parts that come in contact with the carcase when moving; the cope beads also receive a final finish with sandpaper.
Now they are ready for the guides and stops. The guides are fillets of pine running from the back to the grounds at the ends of the drawers to guide them; they are 18 in. by 1 1/2 in. by 1 in. The stops are pieces of hard wood, such as ash or oak, 2 in. square and 1/4 in. thick, and shaped like w, having 3 holes for 3/4-in. wrought brads; 12 guides and 10 stops are required for the job, as the large drawer in the surbase requires no stop, the front stopping itself against the fore edges. The stops are put on before he guides. To do this a gauge is used with a groove in the head, close to the shank or stalk, to admit the projecting bead on the drawer front. The drawer is turned bottom up, and with this gauge a line is drawn from the front over the mahogany blocking glued to the bottom behind the front, the gauge being set a little bit less than the width of the front and blocking. The piece thus marked off is carefully pared to the gauge line. This being done with all 4 drawers, the shelves are also gauged from the front edge with the same setting of gauge, and the stops glued and nailed on at the gauge lines. They will thus stop the drawers exactly flush with the face of the carcase, the beads only projecting.
The top drawer (that between the circular blocks) stands out 1 in. beyond the face of the carcase - consequently for this drawer the stops are 1 in. nearer the front of the shelf.