In Shop Blog, Tricks of the Trade

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I recently completed a seven-drawer dresser. The drawers featured hand-cut dovetails and are of graduated heights from top to bottom.

Cleaning up the drawers with my handplanes was initially tough because I couldn’t get them to remain still during planing. Fortunately, I thumbed through a Charles H. Hayward book recently and came across his solution: a dirt-simple method for easily planing drawers.

He writes, “All fitting is done before the bottom is added, and precautions are necessary to avoid racking the drawer when planing. The simplest way is to screw a couple of stout battens to the bench and place the drawer over these (shown here at center). As a rule, it is necessary to work inwards from each end to avoid splitting out the end grain. Do not remove more than is essential to give a clean finish, and try the drawer in position frequently.”

That is all useful advice. But I’m lazy – and I didn’t want to put screws into my benchtop – so I reimagined Hayward’s technique using holdfasts instead of screws to hold the battens in place.

This made adjusting the setup much faster than unscrewing them and repositioning them.

Shawn Nichols,
Bay Village, Ohio

Editor’s note: The Hayward excerpt is from “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years, Volume II” (Lost Art Press).

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