Future-proof drawer frame construction
Having fixed many antiques, Tom McLaughlin constructs the Shaker-style dresser drawer runners in a way that will be durable but also repairable, should the need arise.
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I use hard maple for my drawer runners. It allows the drawers to slide smoothly and resists wear. The runner tenons fit into the grooves in the front and back dividers, and the runners are anchored to the sides with two pre-drilled countersunk screws in the runner groove. The runners are set with a 1/16-in. gap to the front divider to allow for seasonal movement. The drawer runners are not glued to the sides, only screwed, to allow for seasonal wood movement and easier future repairs.
The top center drawer guide, fitted behind the top vertical divider, is glued in place with the tenon resting on top of the horizontal front divider while centered on the rear divider. It is attached in the rear with a washer-head screw, up through a slotted groove in the rear divider, which holds the drawer guide centered side to side but allows for seasonal movement front to back. The 1/4-in.-thick hard maple runner piece is screwed to the underside of the top center drawer guide to create center runners for the top two drawers. Lastly, the hard maple runners for the bottom drawer are added and screwed in place.
Making and attaching the base
The base frame parts are cut to dimension allowing for through-dovetails on all four corners. After scoring depth lines around the end of each piece with a marking gauge, I lay out the tails on the longer front and back pieces. The tails are again cut using the dovetailed tablesaw blade method. I used a 14° dovetail saw blade to match the 14° sliding dovetails of the drawer dividers.
Once the joinery is finished, I trace the arch pattern on each end of the base frame, cut the curves on the bandsaw, and smooth them. Then I glue-up the base, checking for square. Glue blocks are added to give the case something more substantial to attach to.