The drawers on the original cabinet
are made with different thickness parts, thinner stock on the
smaller upper drawers and progressively heavier stock on the
larger lower drawers. All of the drawers are simply nailed
together with a floating bottom set in a grove plowed in the
front and sides.
To attempt to dovetail 55 little
drawers would be the definition of insanity. Nailing these is
entirely adequate; most of the drawers in this cabinet could not
hold more than a pound or two of nails or screws if completely
You can really make a dent in your
scrap pile building the drawers. There are dozens of small
pieces that can be made from crappy wood. To try to utilize what
I had, when milling out the drawer stock I milled the pieces out
as long as possible with knots and defects included. As I cut
individual drawer parts to length I would dodge the defects.
This way I did not have to try and plane or saw a bunch of small
parts and the drawers in this cabinet ended up being pretty much
all clear material.
For my cabinet I made all of the drawers from the same dimension
stock throughout to simplify the milling process. The drawer
fronts are all ¾” thick, sides 3/8” and the bottoms from 3/16
I started with the drawer fronts.
Mill out enough stock for an entire row of drawers the proper
height to fit the openings. Before cutting then to length I
plowed the 3/16” grove to accept the drawer bottom. To get an
accurate fit I transferred the lengths from each individual
drawer opening to the stock and cut to length on the miter box.
Test each drawer face to the openings and check the fit, tune up
with a block plane if needed. After they are fit be sure to
number each opening to each drawer face to avoid confusion.
Each drawer face has two rabbets to
accept the drawer sides. These drawer faces are narrow and a bit
difficult to try to rabbet individually. The best way I found to
do them was a whole row of fronts at once. Using my tail vise, I
aligned one side of a row of fronts with a straight edge,
clamped, and then cut the rabbit with a moving fillister plane.
To be sure they were all to a perfectly equal depth I used a
router plane to make the last pass.
I re-sawed with a band saw the 5/4”
stock I had to make the 3/8” thickness needed for the drawer
sides. Here again, the height changes between rows and you have
to mill out the sides accordingly. The length of the side pieces
are the same for all the drawers.