Drawer Construction, Furniture & Cabinet Drawers

Drawer Construction, Furniture & Cabinet Drawers

Nearly every article of furniture may be provided with a drawer; and the ease with which it slides, and its accuracy of fitting are tests of good workmanship. To have a wide, deep drawer slide so easily that the pressure of a ringer placed against the front at one end is sufficient to move it, means careful adjustment, skilled labor, and the best materials.

Drawer construction is composed of a front, back, two sides and a bottom. The front is the only part visible when the drawer is closed, and upon its treatment depends the decorative value of the drawer. It may be considered as a panel surrounded by mouldings; or it may be left plain, depending on the hardware for its ornamentation.

If the front of drawers is on the same plane as the surrounding surfaces of the case the line of the joint about the drawer is too clearly defined. It is better to hide this joint by allowing the drawer to slide in a sixteenth of an inch beyond the face of the framework, or to place a bead all round the edge of the drawer.

Sometimes the front of the drawer has its edge rebated so that instead of sliding into the pocket beyond the surface of the case it projects beyond, and the lip of the rebate covers the joint around the drawer. The sides of the drawer are dovetailed to the front and the bottom1 is either grooved directly in the sides or in strips glued to them. This latter method is used when the sides are too thin for grooving. The full thickness of the bottom is not grooved into the front and sides, but its edge is reduced in thickness by bevelling, or rebating, thus permitting the bottom to be placed low without making the portion of the sides below the groove too thin.

The space between the lower edge of the drawer front and the bottom at its thickest part is about one-eighth inch. Hence the interior depth of a drawer is the depth of the front minus the thickness of the bottom plus one-eighth inch. The average drawer having a bottom of half an inch would, therefore, have an interior depth five-eighths of an inch less than it appears on the front. Wide drawers, like those extending the full width of a bureau, sometimes- have the bottom divided through the middle, from front to back, by a rail or muntin. This prevents the bottom from bending beneath the weight placed on it and also decreases the tendency to warp. The bottom should be long enough to extend beyond the back piece. It is also grooved into the front, where it is fastened, but it ought not to be secured elsewhere. This method of construction admits of the bottom shrinking, but as it is fastened on the front only and free to move elsewhere it will not crack, and the extra length beyond the back prevents an opening appearing at that end.

The back may be grooved or dovetailed in the sides. The dimensions of the different parts are dependent on the size of the drawer. For ordinary work the front is seldom more than seven-eighths inch thick; and the sides, bottom and back more than one-half inch.

Drawer Slides

In case furniture the drawer slides in a pocket, and often there are several drawers, one above the other. When enclosed the drawer slides on a supporting frame, the front rail of which is called the "bearer" and the side rails "runners". Close against the sides and supported by the runners are narrow strips of wood that serve to keep the drawer in place; these are the "guides".

Sometimes the frame between the drawers is open, and if one of the series is removed that beneath may be emptied by reaching through the opening above. In better work the frame is filled with a panel, called a dust panel, that prevents this.

The drawer is not always enclosed. Sometimes it is hung beneath a table top and exposed to view. When used in this way cleats are fastened to the outer surface of the sides and slide in grooved pieces screwed to the underside of the table top. If the cleats set close to the upper edge of the sides of the drawer they increase the thickness of this edge which is in contact with the under surface of the table top. As this surface may not be true the drawer will not work smoothly unless hung loosely.

A better arrangement is the one illustrated with the cleat set a little below the edge of the drawer, and fitted smoothly in the grooved bearer. The edge of the drawer may then be set so as not to rub against the top of the table, and yet the drawer is held secure by the cleats sliding in the grooved supports. Sometimes the groove is in the side of the drawer, and the bearer is provided with a tongue that fits it, reversing the method just described.

When it is desirable to place a drawer in a piece of furniture having a triangular plan, as for instance a corner cabinet, the guides at the side are useless, as the drawer does not come in contact with them except when pushed in. As soon as the drawer is pulled out ever so little it no longer fills the width of the pocket. If it is necessary to slide a drawer of this shape a rail is placed in the middle of the bottom the length of the drawer from front to back. The underside of this rail is grooved over a tongued strip immediately beneath it, that serves as a guide to keep the drawer in the middle of the pocket. Such an arrangement is not always feasible, and then the triangular drawer is pivoted at the front edge, so instead of sliding it swings out of the pocket.

For music cabinets, library cases, etc., the use of the drawer may make it necessary to pull it out sufficiently that the entire length can be seen. A drawer constructed in the usual way would, if pulled out so far, fall to the floor as soon as the hand left it. A drawer is made, however, with slides at the sides that support it when out its full length. The illustration shows such a method. The side of the drawer is about twice as thick as ordinarily, and the lower portion is rebated about half its depth and thickness. In this rebate a slide is fitted, exactly filling it. The rear end of the slide is increased in width to the full depth of the drawer. When the drawer is closed the slide and the side of the drawer are practically one; when the drawer is pulled out to a fixed point the slide catches against a stop and does not move any further, but the drawer then moves along the slide until it is nearly, or entirely, out of the pocket, when it is stopped by a pin moving in a groove in the side of the slide. The drawer is then resting entirely on the slides, which are sufficiently far in the pocket to carry the weight, and the widened portion at the rear end of them filling the space between the runners, prevents upsetting.

When a pair of doors closes against a case of drawers another system may be used in place of the above. The doors can be hung so as to open to a position in the plane of the sides of the cabinet and held there by stops. Their inner surface may also be provided with runners on which the drawer can slide when it is pulled out beyond the pocket.

Drawers

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