At the rate of a halfpenny or less apiece one may buy the cigar boxes made to hold twenty-five cigars. These boxes, being fashioned by machinery, are all -- at any rate all those devoted to a particular "brand" -- of the same dimensions; they are neatly constructed, and their wood is well seasoned. Anyone who wishes to make a useful little cabinet may well employ the boxes as drawers in the said cabinet (Fig. 29).
Each box should be prepared as follows:-Remove the lid and paper lining, and rub all the paper binding off the outside angles with a piece of coarse glass paper. This is a safer method than soaking-off, which may cause warping and swelling of the wood. Then plane down the tops of the two sides till they are flush with the back and front, and glue into the corners small pieces of wood of right-angled-triangle section to hold the sides together and the bottom to the sides. To secure the parts further cut a number of large pins down to 3/4 inch, and drive these into the sides through holes carefully drilled in the bottom. Finally, rub the outside of the drawer well with fine glass paper or emery cloth till the surface is smooth all over.
If mahogany can be obtained for this, so much the better, as the wood will match the boxes. In default of it, a white wood, stained, will have to serve.
The two sides of the case should be prepared first.
Wood 3/8 inch thick is advised. Each side is 1 inch wider than the depth (outside) of a drawer from front to back. (Whether the drawers shall slide in lengthways or flatways is for the maker to decide.) The length of a side is calculated on the basis that the drawers will be separated from one another by runners 1/4 to 5/16 inch deep, and that a slight clearance must be allowed for the drawers to slide in and out freely. In the first instance cut the sides a bit too long. If it be preferred to insert the bottom between the sides, the length must be increased accordingly.
The runners are cut out of the box lids, and planed till their top and bottom edges are parallel. Their length is 1/4 inch less than the depth of a drawer. To fill up the spaces between the drawers in front you will need some slips of the same depth as the runners, and 3/8 inch longer than the drawer, so that they may be let 3/16 inch into the sides of the case at each end.
This is a very easy matter if a wooden spacer, slightly wider than the depth of the drawer, is prepared. Having decided which is to be the inside face and the forward edge of a side, lay the side flat, and apply the spacer with one edge flush with the bottom of the side, or as far away from it as the thickness of the bottom, as the case may be, and fix it lightly in position with a couple of tacks. The first runner is laid touching the spacer and a little back from the edge to give room for the cross-bar, and fastened by means of short tacks, for which holes had better be drilled in the runner to prevent splitting. The spacer is now transferred to the other side of the runner, and the second runner is fastened on above it; and so on till all the runners are in position. The square should be used occasionally to make sure that the tops of the runners are parallel to one another. The other side having been treated in like manner, any spare wood at the top is sawn off.
The notches for the front cross-bars between drawers are cut out with a very sharp narrow chisel.
Make the top of the same thickness as the sides; the bottom of somewhat stouter wood. If the bottom is cut a bit longer than the width of the case, and neatly bevelled off, it will help to smarten the appearance of the cabinet.
When fixing the sides to the bottom and top get the distance correct by placing the top and bottom drawers in position, and insert a piece of thin card between one end of the drawer and the side. This will ensure the necessary clearance being allowed for.
Cut this out of thin wood. The top of a sweetstuff box-costing about a halfpenny -- will do well enough. It should be quite rectangular and make a close fit, as it plays the important part of keeping the case square laterally. Bevel its back edges off a bit. Push it in against the back ends of the runners, and fix it by picture brads driven in behind.
The front bars should now be cut to a good fit and glued in the notches. This completes the construction.
Drop handles for the drawers may be made out of semicircles of brass wire with the ends turned up. The handles are held up to the drawer by loops of finer wire passed through the front and clinched inside.
The finishing of the outside must be left to the maker's taste. Varnishing, or polishing with warmed beeswax, will add to the general appearance, and keep out damp.
Fig. 29. Cabinet with cigar-box drawers.
The total cost of a ten-drawer cabinet ought not to exceed eighteen pence.