Popular Woodworking 2005-11 № 151, страница 60

Popular Woodworking 2005-11 № 151, страница 60
Carcase Construction


Building fine furniture is challenging, but never impossible. Learn the techniques necessary for efficiently building any casework.

If you've never tried your hand at building a chest of drawers but you've built several projects with success, the simple tall chest in this article is a good place to begin. Because of its scale, a chest of drawers can seem intimidating at first glance. But stripped of its feet and moulding, this chest, like all chests, is just a box. And of course the drawers are simply boxes, too, which are made to fit within the large box.

The key to building casework is to make it square. Otherwise, as you can imagine, it becomes very difficult to fit the drawers and mouldings. The key to making the casework square is to use a stop-block when cutting parts to final length. Remember, for the corners of a box to be 90°, or square, parallel parts must be the exact same length. If you measure, mark and cut parallel parts separately they probably will not be exactly the same length. Instead, if you measure and mark just one piece and set up a stop-block, the mating parts will be identical.

Once the basic case is constructed there is no longer a need

to measure at all. Instead, the remaining parts of the case, such as drawers and moulding, are marked directly from the case. Using these tested and traditional techniques not only ensures that the parts fit, the construction process is much more efficient as well.

Chests of drawers such as the one shown at right were very popular two centuries ago in the New England Colonies. I like them for their simplicity. They rely on good proportions and careful selection of figured wood rather than lots of curves and carvings; this chest fits within a golden rectangle and the drawers graduate using arithmetic progression. The casework is supported by tall bracket feet, which were common on New Eng

land chests of this classic period. And capping off the chest is a bold crown moulding.

Many of the surviving antique chests are made from tiger maple; a few are crafted of cherry. Tiger maple is one of my favorite woods but I opted for cherry because I had some special planks that I cut and dried myself. The case sides and top are made from a matching set of 22"-wide boards. As you can imagine it was a large, old tree. In fact, it was so old that the base of the tree was beginning to rot and so the commercial mills just were not interested in the tree. It's a good example of what you can often find when you develop rapport with a professional logger. Finding lumber like this at a lum

beryard is difficult to impossible.

One-board sides and a top are dramatic, but two well-matched boards look great, too. And the specialty lumber dealers in Pennsylvania (see "Specialty Lumber Dealers" on page 60) often have wide, figured boards in stock. So gather the necessary materials, sharpen your chisels, grab your dovetail saw and let's begin.

Mill the Stock

Before you lay out and cut the first dovetail, it's important to mill the stock flat and square. Cutting dovetails on warped boards is difficult at best. I flatten one face of each board with my jointer before planing the stock to thickness. Afterwards, I square one end of each board and cut the stock to length using a stop-block for accuracy. The stop-block is a critical part of the setup when sawing to final length. For the corners of the chest to be square, the parallel members must be equal in length. Afterward, cut a V2" by V2" rabbet along the inside edges of the sides and top to accept the carcase's backboards.

by Lonnie Bird

Lonnie is the author of "The Complete Illustrated Guide to Using Woodworking Tools" (The Taunton Press) and teaches woodworking. You can learn more about his classes online at lonniebird.com.


Popular Woodworking November 2005

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