I'm fixing the drawers on an old oak desk. The drawer rails and runners are
pretty much all brittle and broken, so I cut new ones, glued them in, and
they work pretty well. The old drawers have these sharp metal skewers on
the back end of them. I'm not sure how these are supposed to work. Can
anyone shed some light?
They look like metal spearheads screwed to the back of the drawer. If you
pulled a drawer out, you could use it as a weapon. I think it's some kind
of stop system. I guess I'd like to use this system if possible, since that
is the orignal design. On the other hand, I can just screw and glue some
blocks and move on to the next project.
In a solid carcase where the grain is vertical, that technique will
require adjustments as the humidity varies, or else the drawer fronts
won't always line up with the front of the carcase.
If you glue the stop block (with or without screw) to the drawer runner
itself, then you can set the depth once and never need to worry again.
The sides can expand/contract, but the runner will stay constant.
There is even a much better way ... but I was purposely giving the OP an
alternate method that closely resembles the method used in his "old oak
desk" for simplicities sake.
Actually, I've learned to put the "stops" on inset drawers on the front
bottom rail, behind the drawer front ... much easier than putting one on the
drawer runner, IME... it's "set and forget", and it can also act as a
drawer stop if desired.
This one has been working perfectly for over a hundred years:
Yes, that does have the nice feature of being dual-purpose. But if
someone slams the drawer it gives a jolt to the joint between the front
and sides of the drawer.
Obviously it's held up in your example though...
Well hell, Chris ... if pigs had wings there would be pig shit dropping on
someone's head. Nothing's perfect for all eventualities. :)
Good enough for rch gubmint work and my purposes.
I really like the way that old timer did his drawers. There's other pictures
of that piece on my site ... worthy of study for those looking to not use
metal drawer slides in a period piece. Story at bottom of page3, IIRC.
I just checked out the other pictures.
Interesting idea with the spacers on the sides. It would act something
like an NK-style drawer, with less friction between the drawer and the
carcase. Easier to tune the width than a "standard" drawer, too.
Interesting that he used half-blind dovetails at the back, and in the
opposite orientation as the "usual".
Are the runners glued at the back, or do they just rest in the groove?
It is almost identical to the NK drawer style, except the spacer is on the
middle/side, instead of the bottom/side (IIR the NK drawer properly). And
you're correct, the drawer operation feels "frictionless", especially
considering the age of the piece .. it's what first piqued my intense
I thought that was unusual also, but have seen this before on drawer backs
in European furniture, especially German.
They appeared to be glued their entire length, but it was difficult to tell
I first noticed the piece when I was playing a private party gig at the
historical building. Checked it out during the breaks and was _most_
impressed by the smooth drawer operation in such an obviously old piece ...
called the next week and arranged permission to photograph it. I just had to
know "how did he do that?"
Most impressive, that drawer operation ... you have to experience it to
really appreciate the technique.
We rebuilt drawers for a linen in a 100 year old house a few years
ago. The lower part of the cabinet was built in the same style as
your picture with inset drawers. The drawers were stopped with the
blocks at the back, on the runners. The part that got us was that the
stops for all 4 drawers were in different places. The longest drawer
slid into the cabinet 2" farther than the shortest but all of them
We're still wondering... why would a guy do that?
We moved his stops since somehow the new drawers were all the same
See my earlier post.. they're probably part of a locking system that locks all
drawers when the main drawer is locked..
Most of the catches on the drawer backs look very much like a combination spear
point/ gate latch..
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I've had several desks that had sort of hooks on the back, to catch a bar when
the top drawer is locked, but nothing that looked like a skewers..
At least not like the ones that I use for kabobs..
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