I am building a chest and dropdown desk. It is based on a measured drawing
of a piece in the NY Historical society.
What troubles me and is the reason for the post is that it shows the dust
dividers rabbited and glued to the solid wood (Walnut) sides with the grain
of the sides up and down and the grain of the wood on the side of the dust
dividers parallel to the side from front to back. It seems to me that this
will stop wood movement of the sides (20") and risk serious damage over
time. One other note: these dividers and the glue joint is essential to the
structural integrity of the piece.
I have thought of making the side pieces so their grain is perpendicular to
the side so they will expand with the side but they are only 3" wide and are
the runners for the drawers.
Does anyone have any thoughts? Am I being concerned about nothing?
You're absolutely right to be concerned. However, and if I read your post
correctly, is it possible that you may be missing a key point?
IOW, it is doubtful that the drawer "dust dividers" are actually glued
throughout the entire length of the rabbet/dado.
It is fairly standard practice in a cabinet with solid wooden sides (as
opposed to plywood sides) to only glue the front 3" or so and allow the
remainder to float in the rebate in the cabinet sides.
I've done it countless times, and learned to do it from a cabinet maker in
England many years ago whose family had been doing it that way for a few
So far the practice has not let me down either. :)
If I misunderstood your post, holler back.
That would be my take as well, and/or depending on the age of the piece
there could be a judicious screw or two w/ an elongated hole. That
would make it pretty recent, however, but age of piece wasn't mentioned.
Anyway, as long as the divider long grain doesn't try to restrict the
joint the whole length, not likely a problem. (If there were going to
be, one would presume the original piece would be showing the effects...
I have ripped 3/4 plywood in 2.5" strips and mitered the corners for the
dust dividers in a couple of projects. But not because I knew it to be a
sure-fire method. It was along a theory (hope and a prayer) that plywood's
inherent stability would all but eliminate expansion and contraction issues
for those components. And, although the side pieces were also plywood
(biscuited and glued!) I would like to hear a consensus as to whether the
same construction method would accommodate solid wood sides.
No. The plywood is stable and the wood sides are not.
The wood will want ot move and the plywood will not let it, so it is liable
to either split or break the joint; unless you use the partial glue method
OTOH... Modern houses are dehumidified in the summer and humidified in the
winter. Wood doesn't move all that much.
A couple years ago I was making drawer fronts for a small table top unit.
To get the curl in the right orientation I had to have the grain running the
I decided to go with it, and make them fit snuggly; and see what happened.
If they either shrank up or got stuck it wouldn't be a big deal to replace
That was 3 years ago. They fit well all year long.
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