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9532 S. County Road A
Superior, WI 54880 USA

Considering the Well-Fit Drawer

Dovetailed drawer in cherry hardwoodOne of the things that first drew me to wood-working was the feel and sound of a well-fit drawer. When the fit is good and very tight, there will be a small resistance when you go to tug open the drawer. When you push it closed, a small pocket of air will come out in soft woosh, sealing the drawer back up again. There is a very narrow margin of error here when achieving this, but it’s what I strive for when building wood drawers.

attached drawer front on metal slides

Attached drawer front with drawer on metal slides.

It’s common nowadays for drawers to be constructed on metal slides. The biggest drawback of metal drawer slides is that they require the facing of the drawer to be larger than the drawer itself. This facing must then be attached to the drawer, which I find clunky and unappealing, almost like false set-dressing. While I like the smooth action of the metal drawer slide, the metal feels to me like an alien cyborg, delivering the drawer to its home. I much prefer the interaction of wood-on-wood. 

The down-side of the wood design is that a full drawer cannot be pulled out all the way. I solve this by carving hand-grips to the sides of the drawers themselves. I like to think of drawers as small trunks with permanent homes. These trunks can be used as regular drawers, or taken out all the way and pawed through.

Jewelry trunk with wrap-around wood drawer slides

For this jewelry trunk, the drawers slide out on the wrap-around drawer pulls constructed out of mahogany hardwood.

The cost of ordering the metal slides pretty much negates the extra labor involved on my part to engineer the wood ones. So the decision is always the client’s. I guess, in a way I find hard to articulate, the adding of metal slides is a breach to the soul of a piece like this. But that’s just me.

5 Responses so far.

  1. Renee VanHorn says:

    I LOVE the way you do drawers ! I am not a fan of the “new ways” for the very reasons you listed ! We have one dresser here that is made the old fashioned way, and I love it ! IF I could afford it, I’d have all my furniture “made” instead of “purchased”. Glad you are doing what you do, Dan !

  2. Carol Kramer says:

    Your craftsmanship is unparalleled, as usual. Beautiful piece of art.

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