I'm making a bunch (10) of drawers for the pair of his and her vanities I am
making. Easy to make because each of us (me/wife) get five in a stack which
means they are all the same width and length, only variation is in the depth
(6 - 3 1/2", 4 - 7"). (I have five more to make later but the size is
different as is the manner of construction.)
Normally I like to make joints, including drawer grooves, an easy fit; by
that I mean I don't want to have to use a hammer to get things together but
I don't want any wobble or rattle...I want to be able to press them together
with my hands. For bottoms, I normally make the grooves VERY slightly over
the material thickness, ease the bottom's edges slightly and all goes
Not this time. The 1/4" ply - which is actually 3/16" - was slightly warped
and I knew it would be a bear to get everything together so I made the
grooves 1/32" over. All goes together well but naturally there is a gap
between the bottom and the groove. I fixed that by ripping off a strip of
stock with the saw blade at 4-5 degrees; that gets me a strip of wedges.
Cut off a bunch so they are about 3/4" square, dab of glue, slide them into
the crack on the bottom side forcing the bottom up and no more crack, no
more rattle. Is that cheating?
And while I'm on the subject, does anyone else use a wedge to fill in a gap
in other imperfectly fitting joints?
Don't do wedges, but I do use a method that makes the whole enchilada a
bit stronger, particularly on wide drawers where a heavy load may warp
the 1/4" bottom slightly due to width, however, your method will suffice
I span that bottom with a brace, glued to the bottom, and brad nailed to
the side (where the nail hole will be hidden by the drawer slides),
which you can see in the drawer sitting on its side in the photo:
Either method will the keep the drawer bottom firmly against the
interior side of the groove for the bottom, neither one is "cheating".
Whenever I've faced a situation like that I've usually just glued in a bit
of veneer. Depending on the gap and what veneer was on hand one or two
layers would take care of it and done well it is invisible. I've always
figured that part of 'craftsmanship' is not making mistakes but the rest is
covering the invevitable gracefully.
Not wedges (tapered shim?), but shims.
Occasionally a loose tenon may fit loosely in a routed mortise.
In that case I'll cut a thin shim, the same size as the face of the
tenon, and glued to same.
Wedge wouldn't work in that situation, for obvious reasons.
I will use hot glue to stop the rattle. It's flexible enough.
You can also use caulking if you prefer.
I try to keep my groove right on the money plus a hair.
As far as filling the bottom, that's not cheating.
I would strive to avoid that, seems like more work, but correcting
imperfections is part and parcel for what we do.
I don't use a wedge.
Sounds fair to me. I'd probably have made a strip as long as
the groove, rather than the 3/4 squares, so that in the unlikely
event of anyone looking at it it didn't look quite so much like
an unplanned fix.
I have seen drawers made by rabbetting the sides, rather than
grooving, and glueing square-sectioned strips into the rabbet
to trap the bottom. Which seems like a lot of work.
Traditionally the bottom would be thicker than the groove,
and would be tapered along the edges to fit.
I recall about 40 years ago a hamburger chain, Hamburger by Gourmet, had
a location in Port Aransas, Texas. The dining area was not much more
than a lean-to on the side of a small building. The lean-to was
enclosed, air conditioned, had lighting, and a dirt floor.
I remember a place like that in Veracruz when I lived there in the early
90s. An Italian from Venice set up a tent in a vacant lot and started
cooking. Dirt floor, rustic tables, great food. Best Italian food I have
Returned for a visit 4-5 years after moving back to the US. Tent was gone,
rustic tables gone, dirt floor gone. The food was as good as ever but it
was now being served in a substantial two story building, very attractively
decorated, owned lock, stock and barrel by the Venetian. Hard work and good
food paid off. If anyone is ever there, go to "El Venustiano" (The
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