Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Four Drawers

The first one took about 3 hours, but after that I was able to make each of the others in less than an hour. I had only made one other drawer before this and that was only due to a mistake. When I made the corner cabinet in the bathroom it was supposed to be a single door for the whole thing. Well, I made the door 6-inches too short (gun to head) and so I ended adding a drawer to the top to make up the room. The logic at the time was that adding a drawer was less work than making a new door. The verdict is still out on that, but regardless, it was a good experience.

These drawers presented a unique challenge for me – well, I guess at this point, almost any drawer presents a unique challenge considering I had only made the one prior to this week. Anyway, the main challenge with these was that they are pass-through drawers. They can be opened on either side of the cabinet. If I were making a standard drawer on a 24-inch deep cabinet, the drawer could be 20-inches deep or 22-inces deep. It really wouldn’t matter how deep it was so long as it would close. With these, they needed to be pretty darn near close to the exact depth of the cabinet or they would always look odd from one side.

The target depth was 22-inches. I had already made the draw fronts for the front side so I needed to make the draw fronts for the back side. Then by measuring the thickness of both, minus the rabbit at the end that would accept the draw sides, that would give me the length of the sides.

Well, I panicked. That is one of the reasons it took 3 hours to make the first one. No, those aren’t the drawers I made. Those are the 1920s drawers that came out of the old rental kitchen. I dismantled them to make the new drawers. This is the other reason it took so long to make the first drawer. I want things to look authentic, so using 7/8th inch thick redwood drawer sides and bottoms from the 1920s did help in that, but it added a lot of time.

The other panic induced decision was to make them a hair longer than they needed to be. One of the things I’ve been worried about all along was that the cabinets will seem too 2 dimensional. These are supposed to be High Victorian dining room cabinets. A lot of times these would incorporate columns and mirrors and bump-outs and what ever other trick the cabinet maker could come up with. Also, when you think of Victorian trimwork there are always parts in relief of other parts to accentuate shadow lines. For instance, the head blocks and plinth blocks always sit a quarter inch proud of the casing. It gives the trim that added dimension to catch the light and throw a shadow.

So with all of that in mind, and the blinding fear that I would make them too small, I made the first one a quarter-inch too long so the dining room side would sit a little proud of the rest of the cabinet. I did it and then I did the other three exactly like that, and now, surprise of all surprises, I’m doubting that decision. I don’t think at this point I will be taking them all apart to trim a quarter-inch off the sides, so once again I will either need to live with this or sell the house.

I’m leaning towards selling the house, but since that won’t be tonight, here are a few shots. First the long shot and then a left and right close-up.

Regardless of the quarter-inch I’m greatly relieved that this task is behind me and I generally like the way they look. It is going to kill me to mount hardware in those burl drawer fronts. The only problem with them now is that they don’t operate all that well. Because they must open from both sides, the draw guides need to be dead-perfect, straight-on. Mine aren’t. These are not modern guides but redwood ones I made. My hope now is that I didn’t use glue when I installed them three weeks ago. If they are just put in with brads, I should be able to pop them out and reposition them, or even make new ones. We’ll see.


JAXTER said...

Hi Greg-

Been following the development of your house for a while, lurking about and all. A thought about your drawers, which look stunning by the way, they will most likely look a bit less proud when they have to compete visually with the marble top, so don't sell the house yet!

davidLBC said...

Greg, try bee's wax or paraffin wax on your wood drawer slides. I believe wax is the best way to lubricate them. The cabinet looks great and I like the relief on the drawers.

Anonymous said...

oh i think they look fabulous.
and, if you don't want to put drawer pulls in, don't. maybe your aesthetic sense is trying to tell you what you like.

Greg said...

I think I can get the ones I made to work, and I agree, bee's wax is good. In this case though, this needs more help than just some lubricant. As the drawers slide all the way through they get hung up just a bit. It is just a fraction of an inch but it is enough that if I don't fix it it will ruin the drawers in no time.

Marilyn said...

I wouldn't worry about mirrors, carving and such. That wood is so amazing it would just get lost!

Greg said...

Good point. The wood is a kind of a tour de force all by itself.

Karen Anne said...

"mount hardware in those burl drawer fronts"

How about a little wooden knob of the same wood in the center of each drawer front, should just about disappear?

Greg said...


That's not a bad idea. I'll give that some thought.