01 December 2008

Smooooth operation.

Steve Allford came down to Wilton this weekend for a training course. He wanted to have a look at the way to make a decent drawer, which involves making a through and lapped dovetail...'cept that there's a lot more to it that that!
I got him started on Saturday morning by making a simple through joint (I have to say that he did that very accurately) and in the afternoon he did a lapped dovetail. The timber he was using was some American red oak that Chisel had given me a while ago and it proved to be ideal for this sort of exercise. The front of the lapped joint was made from a oddment of Brazilian mahogany.
A couple of years ago I'd made an old unit with a couple of small drawers (for holding pens etc in the old computer room) and it was shortly destined for the tip, but then I had a moderate brainwave (such occurrences are getting rarer) I thought that Steve might be able to completely remake one of the drawers on Sunday, which is what he did. Furthermore, he was able to make it a 'piston' fit in the carcass and was surprised that a small handful of wispy shavings was the difference between a binding drawer and one that was a dead smooth fit, so much so that he was able to push the drawer in using just one finger on a lower corner. If you don't believe me, try it!.. a well made and fitted drawer will go in smoothly (if its 3/4 out) by pushing on one corner with finger...if it binds and sticks, it's a sloppy fit.
I gave Steve enough timber for him to make the second drawer at home in 'slow time' so that he ought to be able to end up with useful little desk unit which will no doubt end up in one of the children's rooms. He'd recently also just completed a dovetail saw kit and was eager to give it it's first outing in my 'shop. It's a very pleasant Grammercy saw for which Steve had made an ebony handle...and a cracking little thing it was too.
Inevitably, mistakes were made which I won't dwell on, but at the end of the weekend Steve knew what they were and had learned how not to repeat them in any future projects that needed a top quality, fitted drawer. Lesson for me there, I fancy...
The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed one or two new shiny tools...luvly jubbly!


Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff, Rob and Steve. I'm impressed with the "piston fit" drawer - very Alan Peters;-)

Cheers ;-)

Paul Chapman

The Village Carpenter said...

A sign of a good teacher is how well his students perform, and Steve's dovetails are perfect. ; )

Krumm.holz said...


Just came across your site via Village Carpenter Link.
Nice job of teaching and nice job of learning.