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Sliding Dovetail Drawers Malden MA

Accurate dovetailing requires flat, straight stock. You may be able to buy planed wood that’s flat and straight already, but often it’s cupped or bowed. To be sure your wood is flat, we recommend preparing your own stock with a jointer and planer.

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Sliding Dovetail Drawers

Sliding Dovetail Drawers

Quickly Build a Stack of Drawers Using Your Router Table

By Tom Caspar

Tools You’ll Need

Accurate dovetailing requires flat, straight stock. You may be able to buy planed wood that’s flat and straight already, but often it’s cupped or bowed. To be sure your wood is flat, we recommend preparing your own stock with a jointer and planer. 

You’ll need a router table to make this joint. Our technique is easier to master if your router table has a miter gauge slot, but it isn’t required. You’ll need two router bits: a 1/2-in.-dia. 14-degree dovetail bit, such as the type used with a half-blind dovetail jig, and a 1/4-in. straight bit. Both bits will perform better if they have 1/2-in. shanks.

Mill the Parts

1. Joint and plane lumber for the front, back and sides (Fig. A). The front can be any thickness over 1/2 in. In this example, it’s 3/4 in. thick. Plane the sides to 1/2 in. thick. Make some extra sides for testing the joint’s fit. 

2. Cut the front to width and length. Cut the sides the same width as the front. Trim the sides to length, allowing an extra 1/4 in. for the front dovetails. Leave the back and plywood bottom oversize for now.

Set Up the Router Table

3. Install a dovetail bit in your router table. Raise it 1/4 in. above the table’s top. This height determines the depth of the sockets. It’s arbitrary, but routing a deeper socket can cause a bit to vibrate excessively. 

4. Position the fence 1/2 in. or so away from the bit. This distance determines the setback of the drawer sides, so the precise amount depends on the type of drawer you’re making. If you use 1/2-in.-thick slides and want a standard 1/16-in. gap on either side of the drawer front, make the setback 7/16 in. Use a combination square to adjust the fence so it’s parallel to the router table’s miter gauge slot.

5. Clamp a stop block to the fence (Photo 1). Position the block so your drawer front fits exactly between the bit and the block. Without using math or a ruler, this setup guarantees that the sockets in a drawer front of any size will be exactly the right length, stopping 1/4 in. from the top of the drawer. 

Photo 1. All the joints for this drawer are cut on the router table. Begin by installing a 1/2-in. dovetail bit to make sockets in the drawer front. Clamp a stop block one drawer-front width from the bit. 

Cut the Sockets

6. Rout sockets on the right side of the drawer front (Photo 2). It’s easy to get disoriented here, so mark your fronts well. In this step, the socket will be on your right as you face the drawer. When you lower the board onto the bit, you’ll make a 1/2-in.-dia. hole. Don’t worry; it will be covered by the 1/2-in.-thick drawer side.

Photo 2: Rout the right end of the drawer front. Guide the board with a miter gauge to keep the board square and tight to the fence. Lo...

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