A while back I took the cupboard’s lower case apart and began painting the integral moldings black, as well as the carved drawer front. Carbon pigment in linseed oil. So they’ve been sitting & drying while I tended to some other stuff. Today I got out one of the drawers and shot some photos while I worked on it. I’ll start with the drawer bottoms.
Last time I wrote about the drawers, I barely mentioned the bottoms. Thin oak boards, nailed to the bottom edges of the drawer sides & back. And in a rabbet in the front. At their adjoining edges, there’s a V-shaped joint that lets one board slip into the edge of its neighbor. Much like a tongue & groove; but not as precise. I have no idea how this was made in the 1680s – but I figured out a method that works pretty well. It starts with the V-groove. I made a scratch stock to create it.
Here’s a bit closer shot of the cutter.
Then plane a bevel on both sides of the neighboring board.
Then test them with a scrap that has the groove in it.
I also worked on some of the applied moldings that decorate some of the drawer fronts. I had a custom molding plane made by Matt Bickford – https://msbickford.com/ I showed him some of the measurements and drawings from the cupboard & we settled on this plane. Its molding is on the drawer fronts, the side panels of the lower case and with some additional detail on the upper case as well. So I’ll get a lot of use out of this beautiful plane. What a joy to use a plane made so well. I would have taken days & days to fumble through a much-less-functional plane…
First, I choose the best stock I can find for the applied moldings. Strength is not an issue – this is about looks and ease of working. I want slow-growing, straight-grained oak. The blank on the left below would be good if I was making chairs (that’s next month) – but I want the one on the right. Another reason for choosing that stock for this reproduction is that it looks like the oak I see in New England furniture of the 1600s.
The “fast” one has 7 growth rings in about 1 1/4″ width; the other over 30 rings in 1 7/8″ width. I ran the 5/8″ wide molding on each edge of this strip of oak. Thickness is 3/8″. I am holding it in a sticking board of sorts. I need all the help I can get, so I grabbed the blank with the holdfast to keep it steady.
Then once they both were done, I sawed the piece apart. This is very careful work. Lightly does it. Any extra pressure from the saw can split that thin stock, then I’ve wasted not only the work to make the molding but the work to make the blank to begin with. I ran that sawn edge across an upside-down plane to clean up that surface & bring it to the final width.
Back when Jennie Alexander & I were selling off her extra tools, I tried to unload this miter box. And I am glad now I had no takers…
Here’s the top drawer front, nearly done. 27 pieces of wood so far to decorate that drawer front.
(pt 20 Essex County cupboard project 2021)
8 thoughts on “more cupboard work; drawer bottoms”
Couldn’t you have used a plow plane to separate that molding from the board instead of a saw?
yes. each method has its challenges. Both work.
Wow. What beautiful moldings.
How much do the “side hung” drawer mountings wear with use? Would it be a good choice for mounting drawers in a chest not made as a 17th century piece?
Sure, it’s still used in modern stuff sometimes. I searched Fine Woodworking & found several articles about side hung drawers.
A few years ago I bought some H&R’s from Matt Bickford-learning how to use them is high on my bucket list! His craftsmanship is excellent. I also recommend his book, “Mouldings In Practice”.
It just dawned on me that you are using hand riven quatersawn oak for drawer bottoms.
This is an amazing project, I thank you again for showing the details of how it is constructed.
Do you have any idea how many manhours it would have taken a shop in the 1680’s to complete this project?
Not only do I not know how long it would take in the 17th century, I don’t know how long it takes me now. Because I’m spending so much time shooting photography and video as I do it – it’s easily 2 months’ of my time – so maybe 6 hours a day for 6 days a week? For 8 weeks? But that’s just a ballpark guess.
I really like my Ulmia 354 miter box. They still make them & the parts. I bought mine used @ $80 instead of $750.