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Making Lipped Drawers with a Dovetail Jig Helena MT

If this is your first time out with a dovetail jig, try making some standard half-blind joints to familiarize yourself with the process and to fine-tune the settings of your jig. Make a sample corner and use it to work out these two important design details.

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Making Lipped Drawers with a Dovetail Jig

Making Lipped Drawers With A Dovetail Jig



You can do more with your half-blind dovetail jig than meets the eye. You've probably used it to make drawers with plain, inset fronts, but it's really quite simple to make lipped drawer fronts, too. Even though most dovetail jigs are basically the same, some of their manuals don't go into much detail about how to make this variation of the basic drawer (they often call it a rabbeted drawer, which is confusing). Whatever kind of jig you have, here's a foolproof process for making lipped drawers from beginning to end.

If this is your first time out with a dovetail jig, try making some standard half-blind joints to familiarize yourself with the process and to fine-tune the settings of your jig. Make a sample corner and use it to work out these two important design details:

Ideal Drawer Widths
Here's a basic rule: Design the case around the drawers. Figure out the width of the drawer sides first, then size the openings of your case on paper. Why? I think drawer sides look best when there's a half-pin at the bottom and the top ( click here to view Fig. B ). Their ideal widths are multiples of one number: the distance between pin centers. That's typically 7/8 in., but some jigs are slightly different.

Location Of Drawer-bottom Groove
No matter how many different drawer sizes you're making, for workshop efficiency it's best to have this groove in the same location for every drawer. Center the groove on the lowest socket of the drawer front. (A socket is the concave hole that each tail fits into, see Photo 9, page 3.) On your sample corner, mark the edges that you placed against the jig's stops. Measure the distance from that edge to the center of the first socket.

Once you've worked out the details, build the case. Then cut all your drawer parts to fit the actual box (rather than cut them to fit the case you planned on paper!). Make the sides and back the same width. The drawer fronts are wider than the sides by the height of the lip, generally about 1/4 in. The fronts are longer than the backs by the width of two lips. Finally, set up your tablesaw to cut a 1/4-in.-deep drawer-bottom groove and follow Photos 1 through 10.

 PHOTO 1:
Cut a groove for the drawer bottom in all the drawer parts. If you're using plywood or hardboard for drawer bottoms, the groove must be slightly less than 1/4-in. wide for a good fit. Fine-tune the width of the groove by making two cuts with a standard saw blade. Cut a single saw-kerf groove in all the drawer parts first, then move the saw fence over a bit and groove all the parts a second time.


 PHOTO 2:
Cut rabbets to form lips on the top and ends of the drawer front (usually there's no lip on the bottom). The precise width of the rabbets affects the fit of the drawer front in its opening. Fine-tune the fence setting so there is 1/16 in. or less total side play between th...

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