Drawers, and the various fittings connected with them, may receive special attention, for they are used largely, and nothing so clearly shows the skill of the workman. If he can make a good drawer, and fit it properly so that it runs firmly but easily, without either shaking or sticking, it may almost be said he can make anything' in furniture. The inconvenience of a badly fitting drawer, one which requires coaxing before it can be opened or shut, need not be dilated on, for we have all been made acquainted with it some time or other. In making a drawer, the front should be got out to fit the opening it is to occupy. This of course should be perfectly rectangular. The front should be made to fit as tightly as possible in the length, and in the width of the piece it should be cut slightly in excess to allow for any shrinkage. If cut bare, or an easy fit originally, by the time the drawer is made it will probably be too easy. Each drawer front, when there are several of the same size, should be marked to show the space it is intended for, and the same for all parts, that they may not get mixed up. If this precaution is taken, each drawer, even though there may be slight differences between them, will be accurately placed. From 3/4-in. to 1-in. stuff will do for most drawer fronts.
Drawer sides are got out in the same way, being cut to the right length, but left a trifle full in width. Each should be fitted to the place it is to occupy, especially if the worker is only a comparative novice. A skilful worker, if several drawers are of the same size, may fit all the sides in one place and find them ultimately all right, but the novice would not be safe to do so. Drawers, it may be pointed out, rarely go right to the back, so that the ends may be cut accordingly.
Drawer backs are seldom so wide as the fronts. Their top edges are lower, and the bottom edges are above those of the other parts. In length they should be full.
For both sides and backs 3/8-in. to 1/2-in. stuff is generally suitable.
The lap dovetail is used in front and the plain at the back, the pins being on these pieces and the sockets in the sides.
Along the lower edges of the sides inside are glued the 'drawer bottom slips,' which are the whole length of the sides. They are grooved to hold the drawer bottoms, and though there is a special plane for doing the grooving, it is not necessary, as the work can be done equally well with the plough. For the sake of neatness, the edges of the slips are generally rounded off inside the drawer. Along the front, and in a line with those in the slips, is another groove for the front edge of the bottom to fit in. The lower edge of the drawer back is on a line with the top of the groove, so that the bottom board when pushed into its place fits just under the back. The bottom board must project at the back to allow for shrinkage, and it seems almost unnecessary to add that the grain of the wood must be across the drawer, i.e., from side to side of it. Many cabinet-makers have a bad habit of fastening the bottom to the back by a nail hammered in, for of course to use glue to fasten it anywhere would do away with the advantages of the ordinary construction. A small screw nail is much better, for if the drawer bottom shrinks it does so towards the back, and may possibly pull out of the front groove. In this case the screw is easily removed, and the bottom pushed forward again.
Now with this general idea of the component parts of a drawer, the following illustrations will require very little explanation.
Fig. 134 represents the plan of a side of the drawer showing the bottom projecting behind. It will be noted that the top and bottom pins of the front are only half dovetails, and the same with the bottom one of the back, which is level with the top of the bottom board. The top one may be made either way, but is best as shown. The back corners of the sides are also rounded off to allow easy entrance of the drawer.
Fig. 134. - Drawer Side.
Fig. 135. - Fitting of Drawer Bottom.
Fig. 135 gives a section of the drawer side, showing the position and shape of the bottom slips with the bottom fitted in. If the bottom is too thick for the groove, it should be thinned from the under side.
Fig. 136 shows the inside of one of the sides with its slip, and sections of the front, bottom, and back,
The number of dovetails may be increased or decreased according to the depth of the drawer, but it should not be less than three at each angle.
Drawers made by joiners, and even occasionally by cabinet-makers, have no bottom slips, the grooves being ploughed direct into the side.
Fig. 136 - Drawer Side with Bottom, etc.
Fig. 137. - Alternative Fitting for Drawer Bottom.
Another plan sometimes adopted, but rather an amateurish one, is to glue one slip on below the bottom and another above it, as in Fig. 137. This practically forms a groove for the bottom. Very small drawers, as those in portable writing-desks, often have the bottom glued in, for little fancy things are not always constructed exactly the same as larger articles.
When the drawers are long, the bottom, in order to give it extra stability, is made in two or rather three pieces, the centre one being a munting, which may be explained as being a wide bottom slip with a groove on each side into which the bottoms proper slide. This centre piece, though necessarily thicker than these, is thinner than the depth of the slips. In front it should be tenoned (stub tenon sunk in the groove), and screwed behind to the back. It is sufficiently shown in Figs. 138 and 139, the former being in section with bottom adjusted, the latter in elevation with section of bottom and back.
If there were only a single drawer in a perfectly plain box, it would of course run against the bottom, top, and sides; but with several drawers one above another the case is different. There are rails between the drawer fronts, and others extending from back to front against which the edges of the sides work.
Fig. 138. - Munting for Bottom
Fig. 139. - Ditto, showing Back.
The bearers in front are fastened into the carcase ends by tenon, dowel, or dovetail, and may usually be anything from 3 ins. to 6 ins. wide. The front edges are faced, as whatever wood the job is made of pine is generally used for bearers. On their upper surfaces are nailed the drawer stops. These are merely pieces of wood, one or two for each drawer according to size, thin enough for the drawer bottoms to pass over, and so placed that the fronts stop against them. The runners for the drawer sides are tenoned into the bearers, and may be of any suitable width, the thickness of bearer and runner being exactly alike. In fixing them, beyond the obvious necessity of having them square across, the principal point to be observed is not to glue them on to the ends. If glued, these would have no opportunity to contract. The tenons are glued into the mortises, and a touch of glue may be used just by the bearer to fasten them to the ends. At the back they are merely held by a nail, either a screw or other kind, driven in on the slant, and left slightly projecting, as in Fig. 140. If the end shrinks it can then do so without risk of splitting.
Fig. 140. - Fastening of Drawer Runner.
Extra strength when necessary may be got by grooving the ends and sinking the edges of the runners in them, but is seldom necessary.
The inner edges of both bearers and runners are often grooved for a thin board to be inserted, as it easily may be, from the back. This 'dust-board,' though seldom necessary in chests of drawers, should not be omitted when the lower part of the carcase is a cupboard. If it is, by the simple expedient of taking the drawer out a dishonest person can obtain access to the cupboard even if its door is locked.
When the drawer sides fit closely against the ends of the carcase, this is made a shade wider at the back than at the front, i.e., a trifle out of the square. So little, however, that the divergence represented by the thickness of a piece of veneer is more than sufficient. A 'shaving' more exactly implies what is wanted, as the only object of this construction is to diminish the friction of the drawer sides and ends. Some may think that to make the drawer sides slightly thinner towards the back would do equally well, or even that the drawer might be slightly narrower at the back than at the front. Either of these might do with inexact workmanship, but not otherwise, for reasons which will soon be discovered if tried.
When the carcase ends are thickened up in front as well as between drawers working on the same runner, as in the case of the two short ones which are usual in an ordinary chest of drawers, an addition must be made to the fittings to prevent the drawers working sideways. These guides take the form of rectangular strips of wood fastened on to the tops of the runners, and may be of any convenient width and thickness.
The arrangements of the various parts will be recognised by the illustrations. Fig. 141 shows the plan, Fig. 142 the section; the lettering in both being the same. Drawer fronts may be either plain, have sunk bevelled edges, be beaded across or be finished in other ways. Perhaps none is more effective than that by means of small mouldings planted on round the edges, as shown in Fig. 143, of which the section is given in Fig. 144. Drawers should not project beyond the bearers and ends, but should rather be set a trifle back, say, one-sixteenth of an inch when closed. Those with stuck-on mouldings should be set back still further, as it is rarely that the mouldings should project.
Figs 141 And 142
A, Bearer. B, Runner. C, Guide on top of B, D, Lining of end E.
Fig. 143 - Drawer Front and Moulding.