Cutting the dovetail joints

Size the drawer parts to fit the openings in the chests, then rout the dovetails, cutting the pins in the front and back pieces and the tails in the sides. A set of commercial templates like the one shown on this page makes the job simple and ensures accurate results. Attach the pin and tail templates to backup boards following the manufacturer’s instructions. Secure one of the drawer sides end-up in a vise. Clamp the backup board to the stock, making sure there are half-tails at either end; the template and backup board should be flush against the work­piece. Protecting the stock with a wood pad, butt a stop block against the drawer side and clamp it to the support board to help you align subsequent cuts. Install the dovetail bit and template guide supplied with the jig and cut the tails, feeding the tool in and out of the template slots (above). Cut the remain­ing tails the same way. Then use one of the completed tail boards to outline the pins on one drawer front or back. Se­cure the pin board in the vise and clamp the pin template to the stock, aligning the jig fingers with the marked outline. Install the straight bit supplied with the jig and rout out the waste between the pins (left). Repeat at the other end and for the remaining fronts and backs.

2 Preparing the drawers for bottom panels

Dry-fit the parts of each drawer and clamp the unit, aligning the bars of the clamps with the front and back pieces; remember to protect the stock with wood pads. Then rout a groove for the bottom panel along the inside of the drawer. Fit a router with a three-wing slotting cutter and mount the tool in a table. Adjust the cutting height to leave the thickness of the drawer runners you will make in step 3 below the groove. Set the drawer right-side up on the table and, starting at the middle of one drawer side, feed the stock into the cutter. Keep­ing the pilot bearing butted against the workpiece, feed the drawer clockwise (right). Continue pivoting the drawer on the table until you return to your starting point.


Making the drawer runners and slides

Mounting the drawers in the highboy requires two additional components for each drawer: a runner with a dovetailed groove on the drawer bottom and a match­ing slide for the frame. Prepare the runner first; it should be as long as the drawer sides and the same thickness as the gap between the bottom panel and the bottom edge of the drawer. To cut the groove in the runner, install a dovetail bit in a router and mount the tool in a table. Set the cutting depth at one-half the runner’s thickness. Adjust the fence to center the groove in the runner and make two passes to rout it, using a push block to feed the stock (left). Make the matching slide on the table saw, using stock one-half as thick as the runner. Adjust the blade to the same angle as the sides of the groove, then make two passes to cut the slide, positioning the rip fence on the left-hand side of the blade so the cutting edge is angled away from the fence. Feed the stock using a push stick (inset).

Gluing up the drawers

For the bottom panel of each drawer, cut a piece of 14- inch plywood to fit the opening, adding the depth of the grooves to its length and width. Dry-fit and clamp the drawer again, position the runner across the bottom panel, and mark the sides of the runner’s dovetailed groove on the drawer back. Disassemble the drawer and use a chisel to extend the
dovetailed groove through the drawer back. If you wish to install drawer stops (page 123), prepare them now. Then glue up the drawer as you did the chests, adding some adhesive to attach the runners to the drawer bottoms. Notched clamping pads will ensure that pressure is only applied to the tail boards (above).

5 Installing the drawer slides

Once the adhesive has dried, slip each drawer slide into its runner on the drawer bottom and install the drawer in the highboy. Mark the location of the slide on the front and back of the drawer frame, then remove the drawer. Remove the slide and center it on the frame be­tween the alignment marks. Apply a thin layer of glue on the contacting surfaces and secure the slide in place with clamps (right). Once the clamps have been tight­ened, screw the slide to the front and back of the frame.


Adjustable drawer stop

To keep a drawer from being pulled right out, attach a simple stop to the frame. Before gluing up the drawer, cut a 1-inch – sguare notch in the mid­dle of the top edge of the drawer back. Saw the stop from scrap, making it longerand narrower than 1 inch. Mount the stop to the bottom of the frame or panel under which the drawer will slide. Line it up with the notch in the drawer back. Screw the stop in place, leaving the fastener loose enough so the stop can be rotated. When you install the drawer, turn the stop so that the long edge is parallel to the drawer sides. Once the stop passes through the notch, turn it 90°so its long edge is parallel to the back.

Updated: March 17, 2016 — 10:03 pm