Traditional American dry sinks were made from yellow pine and had deep wooden troughs on top that were useful for storing pitchers, churns and buckets of liquids. Now that we’ve got refrigerators and ice makers, the dry sink has graduated to become an expensive item at antique markets.
This updated version preserves the form of the traditional dry sink, with its high splash guard on back and storage down below, but I’ve altered a few key components. Instead of a sunken wooden trough on top, I’ve added two drawers. And instead of yellow pine, this dry sink is made from curly maple. Put the finished project in your kitchen to add a country touch to a farm home, or use it as a buffet in an informal dining room.
I build all my casework the same way, and I’m convinced that these methods will ensure that the furniture will be around for a long time. Begin by building the face frame of the cabinet because most of the cabinet dimensions are based on the face frame. I use mortise-and-tenon joinery to join the rails and stiles. I make the tenons on all the rails 1″ long, and all the mortises 1-1/16″ deep, which will ensure your tenons won’t bottom out in your mortises and give some space for excess glue to go. Dry-fit the face-frame parts, then put glue in the mortises and glue up all the rails and stiles. Start with the center rail and stile and work out.
Begin building the case by gluing up some boards to make the side pieces and shelves. Once those are cut to finished size, cut 3/4″-wide x 1/4″-deep dadoes to hold the two fixed shelves in place.
The bottom dado is located 4-3/4″ from the bottom edge of sides. This will make the bottom shelf stick up 1/4″ above the bottom rail of the face frame and serve as a door stop. The second dado should be flush to the top of the center rail because the drawers will ride on that shelf. Now cut 1/2″ x 1/4″ rabbets in the sides for the back.
Put a bead of glue in the dadoes, then put the shelves in the dadoes and nail the case together through the sides. Some people might wince at nailing a case together this way; I don’t. I figure that when the glue finally gives way, as it will someday, it’s the nails that will hold the piece together.