The final project- 6 of 6, it was the last one I built for the book. At this point my deadline was fast approaching and I was starting to burn out from the exhausting year previous, leading up to this point. This piece was built in February of 2009, my deadline was March 6th. Over the course of 2008, I designed and built 5 of the 6 book projects as well as 5 other outside commissions. My busiest year so far building custom furniture!
I had originally wanted to do more with this piece but simply ran out of time and energy. Things like shaping the tops and full length of the legs. My original design actually had some inlay in the drawers and the door panels were originally going to be birds eye maple. Things don’t always go as planned but I was pretty happy with the end results nonetheless.
Again, some shots form the cutting room floor-
Dovetails ready and waiting to be fit.
A dry fit to determine the final interior sizing and lay-out.
Shaping the leg shoulders after sawing out the waste. This detail was a long process with only hand tools. I imagine it would be a relatively fast procedure with a band saw?
Once the legs were shaped they needed to be cut to final length.
A good square cut and I clean up the ends with a low angle block plane.
With the ends clean the edges are chamfered…this is done free hand again with a block plane.
When the interior was complete the glue up begins…here the drawer dividers are held in place while ‘glue bear’makes his first appearance. He became a kind of mascot through these last few weeks of the book projects and was a clear indication that I was starting to lose it ! Maybe you remember him on my blog?
The drawer runners are mortised into the front drawer dividers.
Dowels and glue will fasten them to the interior. This shot was still a dry fit.
With the clamps still on after the glue up, I drill, glue and drive some cherry dowels through the joinery. I use this technique quite often in my work and have had success with it. The glue may be sufficient but the dowel adds some insurance the pieces stay closed for a long, long time to come.
Moving onto the door construction I round over the edges after the bead work is complete. The beads are all scratched in by hand with a simple beading tool.
Dowel centers are convenient in the hand tool work shop. Here the drawer rails are carefully fit into the stiles. You may notice everything here is sitting on an MDF backer board to insure the door parts are kept as flat as possible while fitting.
Once the stiles are fit I take everything apart and plane them down to a slightly thinner thickness. This creates a small shadow line and adds some depth to the doors. You can see the original birds eye maple panel being fit here. I originally thought I had enough maple to do the panels and the three drawer fronts but it turned out I was short in materials. Being this close to my deadline I didn’t have the time, energy or the budget to start buying new material. I considered leaving the door panels maple and using the walnut for the drawer fronts but introducing a third prominent wood species seemed only to confuse the flow of the piece. I settled on the walnut and still look at the birds eye sitting in my wood shop to this day- it’ll find its way into a piece one day…
What’s that old saying- ‘You can never have enough clamps!’
Fitting the drawer fronts to fit. Because the walnut was an after thought I had to use what was left in my shop for the drawers. I wasn’t happy with the grain in these pieces but for the sake of illustration, and finishing the book I used it. If this was a piece for a client I would have waited and got some more suitable material.
Ripping the stock for the drawer sides and backs. I had some nice butternut that worked out well with the walnut fronts. Butternut is a great wood to work with hand tools.
The drawers get grooved for the bottoms and in the shot above you can see I’m laying out the dovetails- two drawers at a time in the face vise and both sides of the drawers at once. These are some time saving tricks in a hand tool only work shop.
Once the drawers were dry fit, I drilled out the holes for the pulls.
These shots were taken after the drawers were glued and I’m nailing down through the drawer tops to hold the pulls in place.
Small, square-cut nails are used as the fasteners. The holes are pre-drilled with an auger gimlet.
Setting the nails to finish just below the surface.