I need to repair a couple of drawers that have dried out dovetail joints. 2
drawers, maybe 16 pins.
I don't need anything like a full West Systems kit of epoxy and filler, but
I need something other than straight wood glue to fill in the gaps.
I could try wood glue and sawdust, but I'm wondering if there is something
On Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 9:27:21 PM UTC-6, DerbyDad03 wrote:
If it were me, I, like you, would not go the West System, because you have to buy way more than you need I would use a quality epoxy (almost any quality brand) as its the best at both adhesion and gap filling.
On Sunday, February 24, 2019 at 6:28:55 AM UTC-5, Dr. Deb wrote:
The "way more" is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. ;-)
Back in my Soap Box Derby days I was buying the stuff by the gallon. I had pumps,
mixers, rollers, different kinds of filler, etc. Just don't need it anymore.
I thought I kept some filler when I tossed all the old liquids, but I can't find it. I just need a
There's lots of West Systems products built into this bad boy.
On Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 7:27:21 PM UTC-8, DerbyDad03 wrote:
Hide glue, when old, turns to dust; the deterioration is the result
of (according to lore) a slow-acting fungus.
That doesn't loosen the wood, though; disassemble, brush away the dust, rinse with
boiling water, and reapply hide glue. It'll stick fine, even if the old glue doesn't
completely come off.
Oher similar joints in that piece are also liable to need work.
On Sunday, February 24, 2019 at 6:36:45 AM UTC-5, whit3rd wrote:
Will hide glues fill those gaps?
Just some split grooves along some rails and one glue joint that opened up.
Already repaired. See my other thread about this piece, entitled:
"Back Panels On Desk - Cutting Error, Modification or Design Feature?"
More pictures there.
That's basically the way those fit from new; you'll do more damage
messing with them than you'll fix. Leave 'em alone.
$0.20, imo, ymmv, etc., etc, etc., ...
If the drawer sides will disassemble easily, then just reglue and go on.
That one on the LHS was miscut initially by tracking wrong side of the
line w/ the sawcut.
As another noted, if this is pretty old and you can tell, reuse hide
glue so don't do anything irreversible.
On Sunday, February 24, 2019 at 11:08:16 AM UTC-5, dpb wrote:
Unfortunately, I can't leave them alone. The previous image was when I was
squeezing the joint tight to show the gaps. This shows that it's completely
As far as disassembly, that may be the best I can/want to do. The joints
on the back of the drawer are solid. I might be able to loosen up the other
side and get the whole front off, but they somehow attached the track on the
bottom (that rides along the center rail) to the drawer bottom and front. The
track may be glued into a groove on the drawer front.
Further investigation is required.
Far better picture for the purpose...that shows the end of the tail on
RH is split from the drawer side and stuck in the front.
The gum being pretty soft has compressed some; the dovetail angles
weren't sharp-enough for the softer wood. Can't do much about those
problems now unless going to completely recut both.
This does show there is room for some shim material to refit the tails
to their sockets; the way one does this is to glue a piece of veneer or
the like to the tail then re-machine back down to the needed
size--basically it's _verysharp_ chisel/handwork time.
Ideally you could retrieve the broken tail piece from where it is and
reglue it before reassembling rather than just try to glue the break in
Whatever you do, don't just start dribbling epoxy or the like all over
The LH side of the RH pin is almost dead-straight, almost no angle at
all...if I could get it apart, I'd be strongly tempted to recut that
socket to have an angle matching the RH (broken) side and add the stock
to the pin to match.
The second-from-left is also almost perfectly straight with what is left
of the pin--looks like there may be some missing material there as well.
That socket is pretty good in dimension, making a new pin to fit if
very will would be a goal.
Can't tell for sure about the leftmost one, there's the glueline of the
side material right at the point where the pin is cut; it looks again
like there's some missing material there that split off either
orignally, even, maybe or has since broken and looks to be gone.
There's that little triangular broken piece on the drawer front; back
where it began if there's enough to reglue it and would have a decent
socket angle there.
The middle just needs a little extra material to fill in the space...
It's tedious work at best, unfortunately. I did something similar to
drawers on the work clothes dresser in the basement a few years
ago...they were in far worse shape and ended up ripping down the side of
the drawer and replacing the bottom 1" or so with new pins cut to match.
They had had nails and other hardware inserted over the years that had
really split and sundered pieces--you at least have (mostly) intact
starting point. The soft gum with the shallow angle is the major issue
of why they failed.
Sorry picture w/ cell phone but...
The bottom you can see I replaced entirely because the soft pine had
worn down so badly over the years the drawers would barely function at
all...doesn't look like those are so badly worn.
The gap showing in the drawer at bottom is the groove for drawer bottom;
they were cut through. You can see the material added to the bottom of
the third pin.
I didn't take exquisite care here but the fit wasn't much better than
yours when I started...now they are tight, no nails, no epoxy, no filler...
It's somewhat tedious hand work but really not _that_ difficult.
Actually, the recollection now arises (it's been 10+ yr now) that the
sides had worn to the point the groove for bottom panels had morphed
into a rabbet as there was so little material left the bottom edge had
broken off, dropping the bottoms out of the drawers...hence my using the
oak for the new pieces.
On Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 9:46:29 AM UTC-5, dpb wrote:
There is virtually no wear on the drawers. Here's the drawer itself...
...and here's the desk:
Note the thumbtacks(?) that were used as glides. Original? Don't know, but
I'll bet they helped keep the bottom of the drawer sides from wearing.
I also found that all of the center rails were screwed in at the front but
floating at the rear - although they all had nail holes at the rear. Just as
a test, I tried putting a tack at the rear of a couple of the rails, making
sure I hit the original hole in the carcass of the desk, but all that did
was make the drawers bind. They are back to floating and the drawers work as
smooth as can be. At least they do while empty, I haven't tried them loaded.
Back to the drawers: If you look closely you'll see that the bottom of the
back panel is beveled to allow for easier insertion into the carcass. That's
a nice touch.
Those "buttons" were fairly common but I've not seen a source for them
in years...I'd be pretty certain they are original. They're heavier
than just a thumbtack head but very similar and your presumption on
purpose and effect is spot on...
The angled rear reduces drag quite a bit and ensures don't hit any
catches at the rear cross rail joints if the move just a little. Indeed
a nice touch but not totally unique ime; I've seen similar before.
All it takes is the tiniest of movement to throw the carcase or drawer
out of square or not get them _quite_ aligned and pinning the slide can
easily cause the binding symptom. Need to be able to have the drawer in
place and locate the neutral position for the slide and then pin it
there to avoid. Leaving free if the slide fits the matching groove
reasonably well and the drawer pockets are snug enough the drawer
doesn't get off-kilter is the simple expedient...looks like started out
pinned and somebody took them out at some point...
On Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 5:22:54 PM UTC-5, dpb wrote:
While I had the back open, I played with the slides a bit and have
decided to agree with whoever decided to take the pins out.
Speaking of having the back off, take a look at this thread when you have
a chance. That thread is about the back panels of this piece. Another
curiosity on my part.
Back Panels On Desk - Cutting Error, Modification or Design Feature?
On Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 6:25:00 PM UTC-6, DerbyDad03 wrote:
How deep are the drawers compared to how deep the carcass cavity is? If t
here is some carcass space (1"?) at the rear, maybe there were vertical boa
rds along the back (side) edges, that the back panel attached to, rather th
an their attaching to the sides of the carcass. I don't see any nail/scre
w holes to support this idea, but maybe the vertical board attachment evide
nce are somewhere unseen in your pic.
On Friday, March 1, 2019 at 11:15:28 AM UTC-5, gray_wolf wrote:
If there is some carcass space (1"?) at the rear, maybe there were vertical
boards along the back (side) edges, that the back panel attached to, rathe
r than their attaching to the sides of the carcass. I don't see any nail/
screw holes to support this idea, but maybe the vertical board attachment e
vidence are somewhere unseen in your pic.
There's nothing wrong with that idea, assuming I needed an idea. ;-)
There's nothing that needs to be fixed re: the back panels. It was just a
curiosity about the way they are attached.
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