Milling parts for perfect drawers
If the drawer parts don't fit properly, it doesn't matter how perfect your dovetails look.
Sponsored by Lee Valley/Veritas
I like a good game of smash-mouth football–heavy on the ground game. My son thinks that watching someone run into a defensive line over and over, only to gain 3-4 yards at a stretch, is boring. It’s hard for a 7-year-old to understand that once you prove you can run the ball whenever you want, the defense will focus on your running back and soon enough you can throw highlight-reel passes just as easily.
Everyone loves to see perfectly hand-cut dovetails–they’re the 40-yard pass of the woodworking world. But here’s the thing; with practice, anyone can cut dovetails. I’m more impressed with systematic layout and milling. It’s the ground game of woodworking–it does 90% of the work and gets 10% of the love. Without good layout and properly fitted drawer parts, you wind up with drawers that bind. It doesn’t matter how perfect those dovetails look when someone pulls out the drawer if the drawer binds when they push it back in.
Even though Tom McLaughlin is a Patriots fan*, he understands the importance of getting his drawer parts to fit perfectly before he starts dovetailing. In this video, you’ll see his system for doing just that—so that once he starts dovetailing it’s just a matter of not messing up. I continually learn from watching great woodworkers do the simple things, and I think you will, too.
*You can tell I’m joking about this because I’m a Tennessee Titans fan. The Titans know a lot about running the ball but Tom would probably point out that the Patriots know more about winning Super Bowls. Whatever.