Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sideboard dry fit

Yesterday I cut the mortise and tenons in the front rails for the drawer runners, in addition to the drawer dividers, and today I cut the mortises in the sideboard back and the tenons on the back end of the drawer runners. I made a mistake in marking the right drawer runner; I had the piece inadvertently turned over when I marked it, so there's a gap between the inside leg and the drawer runner. The problem with this is that although it's not wide enough for a drawer to slip through, there's no room for a drawer guide. I'll fix it with a piece of scrap and hot hide glue, or just use a wide piece glued directly to the case side instead of the runner.

Wrangling this thing into place was a real chore. It's not heavy, but it's long, it's rather tall, and fairly deep. And this is complicated by the fact the drawer runners have to be set into their mortises in the bottom front rail and the case back, all while trying to keep the drawer dividers up tight against the top and bottom rail, and then squeezing everything into the case sides. Sheesh.
Right before cutting the joinery for the drawer runners, I had a brief thought about making the mortises in the back the same width as the runners. That way, I could put the front and back together, and then just slide the runners through the mortise in the back, and then seat the front tenons into the mortises in the front rail.

I (perhaps wisely) chickened out from doing this. The only way that could work is if I glued the front tenons and left the back of the drawer runners unglued. But this would mean that there would only be the glue holding the tenon in place, and that every time you pushed the drawers back, you would cause the runners to slightly pull on the tenons. I'm not sure if this would cause the glue to fail in 5 or 50 years, but there's also the fact that a mortise that big in the back (about 1" across and between 2 to 4 inches wide with a 1 inch depth) could potentially cause the back to split off along the mortises, especially if the drawers are loaded down with china and silverware.
So I wisely, if not adventurously, went with 3/8" mortises and side by side double tenons for the two wider drawer runners.

Dry fitting was done by putting the case back into the two sides, sliding the drawer runners into the mortises in the back, and then gently pushing the sides out so I could get enough clearance to slide the top and bottom front rails into the sides. And then a lot of finagling went on trying to get everything nice and flush. As much as I hate to say, I just don't think using hide glue for this glue up is going to be feasible. Even with my heater on full blast, the shop never got warmer than 37 degrees, and temperatures are supposed to be continuing in the lower 30's this week. Plus, there's no way I'll get everything together in time before the 260 gram hide glue sets. I guess I'll use good ol' yellow PVA.

After I get this thing glued up, I'll probably move it into the house (if possible) to give me space to work on flattening the top. Once the top is in order, I'll fit it to the case and then start work on the drawers. After the drawers are fitted, I can then start on the most exciting part: staining and finishing. I ordered a packet of red aniline dye stain from Lee Valley and I have plenty of scraps to test stains on. I'll see what it looks like with different strengths of the stain (two applications, one application, one application and then wiped) underneath two or three coats of 2 pound cut garnet shellac.
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