There are so many ways to construct a drawer that someone could write an entire book on the variations across time and cultures. I’d buy it. One curious drawer detail that I quite like is to house a drawer’s bottom in slips.
Drawer slips are narrow pieces of wood that are grooved to accept the drawer bottom. The slips are glued to the drawer sides (and sometimes the drawer front). Why would you do such a thing?
– Dovetail layout is cleaner: Because you don’t have to sink a groove in the drawer sides, you don’t have to use a half-tail at the bottom of the drawer side or risk a bad split by putting a whole tail close to the bottom edge. You can use any layout you please. The slips handle the groove.
– They look nice. This is probably the reason I like them. It adds an extra level of detail to the drawer bottom. Most people probably won’t notice, but I do.
– They make the drawer easier to use. You can fish coins and the like easily out of the drawer because of the beveled edge on the slip. Some people say they make the drawers easier to clean and dust. But I don’t dust much.
There is some debate about whether each drawer requires three slips or only two. Some account have slips attached to the sides and drawer front , the slips are mitered at the corners. Other accounts have slips attached to the sides only and a groove in the drawer front.
In some accounts, drawer slips are a mark of quality work. David Denning in “The Art and Craft of Cabinet-making” (Pitman, page 186) says that joiners typically grooved their drawer sides. Cabinetmakers typically used slips.
– Christopher Schwarz
Here you can see the symmetrical dovetail layout, which I like. Drawer slips make this easy.
Here’s a close shot of some slip material before it is installed. Note the bevel on the corner.
This is what the underside of the drawer looks like with slips. My slips are mitered. The slip attached to the drawer front is cherry.
And here’s what they look like from the rear of the drawer.
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