Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Two Firsts Make a Drawer

I made a small cabinet to hold all the accessories for my table saw that always seem to be somewhere in the shop other then near my table saw. It's nothing fancy just a box with a shelf and a drawer. And of course it's on wheels. Today I actually made the drawer for it and got to try a couple of firsts. It was the first time I installed drawer slides and the first time I used a Drawer Lock Bit for building the drawer.

I purchased a Kreg Drawer Slide Mounting tool a little while back. Unfortunately the cashier already rang it in before I realized what the price was - a whopping $32.99! Had I known that I probably would NOT have purchased it. But it was in the bag so I took it home. Now because it was my first time installing drawer slides and the first time I used this jig this may sound like I am giving it a bad rap. I did not buy any brand name drawer slides, just some bargain ones and maybe that is the problem. Perhaps down the road when I do more drawer work I will be extolling the virtues of this jig. But for now I am going to say it's not worth $32.99. It did help somewhat in getting the cabinet part of the slides in place. But there were some frustrating moments as well when the slide kept popping off or twisting on the jig. I'll let you know if there are any improvements with time.

I learned several things about drawer slides from this single experience. It would be better to leave a little slop in the fit of the drawer between the slides, 1/16 to 3/32 would be good. A precise fit makes the drawer tight in the slides and they don't function as anticipated, especially self closing slides. I bought 22" slides and my drawer is closer to 24" deep. That 2 inches is going to be a problem because the drawer is under a shelf and now that last 4 inches of the drawer are almost inaccessible. I may end up changing them yet. The slides are bottom mount and I left slightly less than 1/4" clearance between the bottom of the drawer and the bottom of the cabinet. It should have been slightly more then 1/4" because as the drawer drops into the "self closing" section of the slides the bottom of the drawer drags on the cabinet bottom, so the drawer is no longer "self closing". OK so I know a heck of a lot more about drawer slides then I knew this morning.

My other first was making a drawer with the drawer lock bit. I liked the idea of this bit just from the pictures. A good tight joint that has some mechanical holding power as well. I have seen a lot of people question the set up of this bit and struggling to get it right. Fortunately I had a reasonably easy time of getting it set up thanks to some instructions I got off the Lee Valley website. Those instructions were for a smaller bit then mine, but it worked with a little fine adjustment. I was using 3/4" MDF for the drawer so I didn't feel the need to make small passes, I just did everything in one bite. However, I did notice a tiny chip out of the top corner of one of the carbide inserts on the bit. Good old MDF eats bits for breakfast.

I made several test blocks and once I had a good setup I kept the test blocks for the next time. The routing went smoothly. Even the vertical sides were not a problem, but I did have to use feather boards to help keep the board against the bit. I got a nice tight fit all around.

The biggest snag of the day was the fact that I couldn't use my Oak Park router table for this job. The hole in the base plate was too small for the bit, and the other base plate with the bigger hole, well that was too big of a hole for the bit. That is the one and only thing I dislike about the Oak Park Table. I don't understand why they can't make a plate that takes inserts. I suppose I will just have to make my own someday.

Fortunately I still have that Wolf Craft table I originally got when I started into this whole woodworking thing. I did try to sell it on Kijiji once but got no takers. Lucky for me as it worked perfectly for me today. I put my Master Craft router under it and I think I am going to leave it there just for these kinds of jobs where the Oak Park table won't cut it.

I did rout the dados for the drawer bottom on the Oak Park table. I finally got to use the Router Raizer. Yep I am going to see if I can put on on the Master Craft router as well. That tool is SWEET!

It was a very productive day. All went abnormally well for a change. I like those days!

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