Monday, 22 December 2008

21 days later

For the last few weeks I have been making the drawers for my cabinet.

When I was training, we were told to allow three days per drawer, so with the seven drawers I am making gives a total of 21 days. No wonder it seems like I have been making them forever!
Let me tell you why making a drawer takes so long, and I am sure you are thinking ‘it is only an open top box’.

Well, you are correct, as a drawer is basically and open top box. But it has to be a box that is square, stable, fit into a hole, and have dovetail joints to make life fun. Each drawer I am making has twelve separate components, giving an overall total of 84 components – and that excludes the frames the drawers run on (an extra 48 components if you are interested).

The sides of the drawer must be made from timber that is dry and stable. Ideally it should be made from wood that is quarter sawn as it is very stable and does not move significantly, but finding good quality wood sawn this way is very hard. I have made my drawer sides from American cherry as it come shipped very dry, and the way I have cut it gives me sides that are near enough quarter sawn.

The joints on drawers are traditionally done as dovetails as these are very strong and resist the forces put on a drawer each time it is open. A jig can be purchased to machine cut the joints, but on my drawers they are all hand cut – you get a much more elegant joint if they are hand cut.
For the drawer bottoms, I am using Cedar of Lebanon. This is a traditional wood for drawer bottoms as it has a wonderful smell that is supposed to keep at bay any insect attack. I do personally love the aroma you get when a cedar-bottomed drawer is opened.

But that still doesn’t really say why it will take about 21 days to make the drawers…just believe me, it does!


woodtreks said...

American cherry all the way to the UK. Wow! Is North American cherry held in high regard in the UK? Don't get me wrong. Being a yank and one who loves to work with cherry, I'm just curious. Keith (

BTW, nice looking highboy.

Jonathan Pearce said...

The cherry we get over here is very dry. Ripping slices off from a thick plank and jointing back to make up panels give very stable stuff for drawer sides.

I have no idea if the wood is held with high regard in the UK, it is just what I have seen more experienced woodworkers in our workshop do when making drawers.