The Art of Making Dovetailed Drawers


Fine furniture calls for an elegant drawer. A master cabinetmaker shares his approach to design and fitting.
By Mario Rodriguez
Pages: 50-54

From the February 2009 issue #174
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There are just a few things my partner at Philadelphia Furniture Workshops, Alan Turner, and I don’t see eye-to-eye on. But how to make a good drawer isn’t one of them. When building furniture, we probably spend as much time making the drawers as we do making the piece itself. But this is an aspect of furniture-making many woodworkers don’t devote enough attention to. In this article, I’ll explain and illustrate how I built a pair of drawers for a small writing desk.

Drawers bestow even the finest hand-crafted furniture with a utilitarian character by arranging, storing and providing access to objects. Yet it’s important that their number, size and placement contribute to the purpose and appearance of a piece, not detract from it.

Drawers are expected to operate easily, without sticking or rattling around. Drawer bottoms shouldn’t sag or be left rough-sawn, and joints shouldn’t be sloppy. Drawers shouldn’t be an afterthought, disappointing the viewer and diminishing the experience.

When open, a drawer should reveal craftsmanship and quality consistent with the rest of the piece. You wouldn’t go to the trouble of reproducing a Philadelphia highboy, then fit its drawers with metal slides.


From the February 2009 issue #174
Buy this issue now