These final bits and pieces will become slips and muntins (centers) for the drawers.
In my last post, I mentioned that my drawer sides are only 3/8 inch thick. It is a traditional English technique that looks great when the drawers are open and makes the drawer lightweight. You may think that is way too thin for a full sized drawer side, and I suppose it would be if I didn’t add slips. The slips double the bearing surface of the drawer slide and house the groove that contains the drawer bottom.
Slips are easy to produce using a plow plane to make the groove (left) and a jack plane to make it the right size and add the user friendly radius to the top inside edge.
End gain view of a slip (left) and muntin (right). The muntin is especially useful for wide drawers because the bottom can be made of two smaller pieces.
Charles H. Hayward said that the parts of a drawer that can come into contact with hands should be rounded as a courtesy to the user. I planed a radius on the corner of the slips and muntins that will be exposed in the final product. The radius is not controlled, just made about right by hand and eye. Making this radius with a jack plane is very fast – be aggressive – no fine shavings here.
Blurry in the background is a wedge that kept the slip groove in-line with the drawer front groove. Another approach is to form a tenon on the front of the slip. Either approach is fine.
The slips are glued and clamped (or cramped for Hayward) to the drawer sides. I hope you can see (on the left) that the slip is a little proud of the drawer side bottom. After the glue cures, I plane the slip to be flush with the drawer side. It only takes a couple of passes with the plane.
I think a small smoothing plane works well for final fitting of drawers. Remove enough wood so that the drawer slides easily in the case and then remove no more. A tight fit looks nice.
With the slips in place, it is time for the final fitting of the drawers. There should not be much to do since each piece was individually fit to the case already. Holding drawers while planing can be a challenge. I clamp boards to my bench that hang over the front edge of the bench. The drawer then rests on those boards without any required clamping. It is simple and effective. To plane the front of the drawer, spread the clamp boards out. Done.
The end of this project is now close enough to smell the Boiled Linseed Oil. It’s all details from here.
The drawers need a stop so that when they are pushed in they will not go deeper than the front of the case. In the image above I’m marking the thickness of the drawer front on the bottom of the case. I’m going to glue a small slip of wood right behind that line. It’s thin enough that it will not interfere with the drawer bottom, but it will stop the drawer perfectly flush with the case front. There are other ways to do this, but this method is very simple and easily adjusted with a rabbet plane.
Like I said before, radius or at least soften the edges that can contact the hands of the user. A spokeshave works great on the inside and outside edges of the drawer sides.
With the drawers complete and fitted, I went back to work on the top. Here I am planing the sub-top because it needed a little flattening. It didn’t come out as flat as I would have liked, but I made up the difference on the underside of the top. Remember, when working with hand tools every piece of wood need not be straight/flat/level, they only need to fit nicely and look straight/flat/level.
Here I’m finally fitting and trimming the real top. That overhang will be sawn off and cleaned up with a sharp smoothing plane. I’ve come a long way from the land of 10,000 decisions. Next stop, finishing. I’m too excited to sleep.