Solid Method for Curved Drawers
Smart bent lamination gives the look and feel of solid wood
Synopsis: Suppose you have a special piece of figured wood that you want to stretch for use on a series of curved drawer fronts. You can slice it into veneer and use it on bent-laminated, curved core, but that would limit your joinery options. Or would it? Stewart Wurtz demonstrates a time-tested method that uses a bent-laminated core but gives you the appearance and joinery options of solid wood—including half-blind dovetails. See how he does it.
I’d like to share a technique for making curved drawer fronts that have a bent laminated core but give you the appearance and joinery options of solid wood. This lets you stretch a single plank of special wood across a series of curved drawers, yet still join the drawers with traditional half-blind dovetails. The key to the technique is to glue a block of solid wood to each end of the drawer front’s laminated core—while also adding the usual edging top and bottom. Because the edging and end blocks are cut from the same plank as the face veneers, the construction is virtually undetectable.
I came across the idea on a visit to Edward Barnsley’s workshop in the Cotswolds more than 35 years ago, when I was just starting out in woodworking. I was mystified when I saw that many Barnsley pieces with curved fronts had string inlay or cock beading right around the drawer fronts—not something solid wood readily allows—yet these same drawer fronts were joined with half-blind dovetails. Shaking a little in my boots, I asked Mr. Barnsley about it, and, as I remember, he kindly explained that end blocks were applied to a laminated core construction. In the years since, I’ve used the approach repeatedly, evolving it as I go. It’s particularly useful on curved drawers, but…