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.
Now the ends are ready to cramp together. Cut a little off the corner of each tenon, and see that they enter their respective mortices before glueing. The glue should be thin, and while one heats the tenons at a fire another puts glue in the mortices with a bit of lath. A very little glue will do on the tenons. The object of heating is to prevent the glue getting chilled. In cramping up, protect the work with bits of wood under the jaws of the cramps. When cramped, see that it is square by gauging with a rod from corner to corner, diagonally between stretcher and rail; also see that it is out of twist. If the work is well done, the cramp may come off at once, as the shoulders will stay close. If ill performed, no amount of cramping will ever make it a good job. Another important thing in cramping these table ends, and in all kinds of mortised framing, is to see that the legs are not pressed out of the plane of the rails. If the jaws of the cramp are kept too high, then the legs are slanted inwards. If, on the other hand, the cramp be too low, the legs are turned outwards, so that the point of pressure should be opposite the centre of the thickness of the rails.
When cramping, place a straight-edge across the 2 legs; the straight-edge should touch the legs on the whole of their breadth - then they will not be winding.
The 2 ends being framed together, the next operation is to fill them in for drawer guides. These consist of pieces of wood 2 in. broad, and thick enough to flush the table legs, fitted in between the legs, and glued to the rails, being kept flush with the bottom edge of rail. They should be fixed down with hand screws, and laid aside for an hour or so, after which they are planed straight and flush with the legs. The tops of the 2 front legs are cut off flush with the edge of the rails, and planed; then the 3/4-in. rail over the drawers is drawn in same length as that under, and a dovetail made on each end about 1 1/4 in. long. These dovetails are drawn on the tops of the legs, and then cut out to the depth required - namely, 3/4 in. The space from this to the 2 mortices under the drawer is the length to make the short upright division, or fore-edge between the drawers. This has a double tenon each end, same as for the stretchers, the 2 rails being mortised to receive it; see Fig. 578, which is the frame without drawers or top.
The rail below the drawers is mortised to receive the cross rail a (Fig. 578), which is a rest for both drawers It is 3 in. broad, and same thickness as front rail; one end is tenoned to enter the front rail, while the opposite or back end has a dovetail, and is let in flush into the under edge of the back rail; its position is from front to back, and in the centre of the frame. The mortice and tenon being prepared, the proper length of this rail will be found when the frame is cramped up, and stood on its legs.
To find the length of the long stretchers, place the 2 ends together, with the mortices towards each other; catch them in a hand screw at top, when you can measure the gap between the end stretchers : this is the length that the long stretchers are to be in excess of the rails at back and front. Tenon the long stretchers to fit the mortices in cross ones; all mortising and tenoning being done, hand plane all the parts that cannot afterwards be reached, before glueing up. Being now ready to glue the frame up, set a cramp to about 3 ft. 2 in., which will allow of 2 pieces of wood to protect the job. The back rail, front rail below drawer, and 2 long stretchers all receive glue, and are fitted in their places at once. Insert them all into one end, first with the hands, then turn them over, and insert them in the other end; now rap them nearly home with a piece of wood and a hammer; then apply the cramp. It is almost necessary for 2 persons to be at this part of the job, one heating tenons, and afterwards assisting with the cramp.
Cramp all the shoulders close, wedging the long stretchers with the cramp in the centre between them.
Glue and insert the short upright rail between the drawers, then above this the rail with 2 dovetails; press the short upright home with a small cramp or a hand screw on either side of the projecting tenons, and drive in wedges as explained in glueing the long stretchers. Rap home the dovetailed ends, and drive a 2-in. nail through them into each leg. You will now find the correct length of the rail across the centre, which fit by dovetailing into back rail. Make 2 bearing fillets, 1 in. sq., and nail them inside of each end and level with the front rail, when they will be on the same level with the centre bearing rail, and support the drawers properly on both sides. The 2 drawers are made with fronts 7/8 in. thick, and are fitted closely into the apertures to receive them. Mark the front on the outside thus, /\, when you will always know the end to be kept uppermost. Plane the bottom edge first, then make one end square, assuming that the aperture is rectangular. Place the front against the aperture, with the squared end in its place, and draw the other on the inside with drawpoint. Saw off and square this end with the plane on the shooting-board. Having got the ends to the exact length, place the front against the aperture again, letting the lower edge enter a little way.