Monday, June 7, 2010

Applying Drawer Fronts

Yes, back at the drawer fronts.  This time, I'm applying the fronts to the drawers.  If these were flat fronts, it would be easier, but this isn't terribly difficult.

To the left you see the fronts dry-fitted to the front of the cabinet. The bottom stick of wood is clamped for the overlay under the bottom drawer, a piece of blue tape to the bottom drawer's left marks it's horizontal position.  The other drawers are all positioned relative to the bottom drawer using the blue tape up the middle of the cove that was put there before slicing the large panel into fronts.

Between the fronts are slices of wood the thickness of my saw kerf since that's what's missing from the originally coved panel.  A wider or narrower reveal would introduce discontinuities in the cove's progression up the fronts.  Just say 'no' to discontinuities.

The glue-up strategy is to apply the topmost drawer front and work down.

Steps are easy: remove drawer and apply glue to front of drawer (like a layer of latex paint).  I use a rubber roller.  Re-insert drawer, put drawer front on the kerf spacers, align horizontally to the vertical blue tape, squeeze to the drawer.

While the drawer is there, apply a clamp in the middle then the outsides (since the outsides are on the bevel, if you put them on first, it is possible they'll shimmy the front over).  Slide the drawer out, stand it up on it's back and...

...apply every clamp you possess to ensure it is nicely held in place. :)

Remember that the PVA glue is water-based and when it hits the back of the fronts, they'll swell a little and cup away from the drawer.  This is why it is important to clamp the be-jeez-uz out of it.  The picture to the left is of two drawers.  The one in the foreground is a 8" deep drawer so I pulled out the long-reach clamps (the two big red ones in the middle).  They are 36" long so I have a cell tower in my bathroom at the moment.

Here are the other three drawers.  It is so ridiculously important to make sure you apply the drawer fronts in the correct orientation... I think I checked three times before gluing each and just before typing this, I checked again (though it would be too late now).

Now, admittedly, I could have cut custom cauls for each side of each drawer as the bevel is different for each, but this is annoying when you already have the clamps lying around.  How better to justify buying them?!

However, my clamp hoard is officially empty after this... -sniff-  Note that parallel clamp would have been somewhat useful at the outer edges or in the flat sides around the cove.  Since I had more K-style clamps, I just used them.

Now, to make this posting somewhat useful, I present a different way you could use to apply a flat drawer front to a drawer (cuz if you applied it elsewhere, well, you'd be silly).

In this picture, I have a drawer box without a bottom in it.  There's a piece of MDF on the left face pretending to be a birds' eye maple applied front.  Wishful thinking.  The two parallel clamps in the box are configured as spreaders and are spread to just touch the front and back.

The two parallel clamps on the outside edges of the drawer are clamping a BowClamp across the front of the drawer.  You could have 2 across the front for a lot of even pressure without a ton of K-style clamps to try applying even pressure everywhere.  ...and if you say, "oh but my stock is flat!", well, it will be until it hits the water-based glue.

So you ask, "why the spreaders inside the box?".  Well, this drawer has no bottom so the pressure from the BowClamp will likely flex the front of the drawer box inward and the glue will set it.  The spreaders make it that both the front and back are holding back the pressure.  These drawer boxes are just 5/16" Beech and they didn't flex noticeably with the spreaders in place.

Is this better than your clamping strategy?  Dunno, it is just an option if you have BowClamps around.  Oh, you could just use parallels as spreaders inside the box and use K-style to pull the BowClamp flat on the outside edges... I couldn't show you with my scrap :)

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