A few years back, I built a small cabinet to hold the carving chisels I inherited from my Dad. Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with the drawers, the project stopped until a couple of weeks ago.
I was looking at a few potential ideas for how to prepare the drawers. As I pondered the different ideas, it became obvious that I could not leave the drawers as one large space – all the sharp edges would bounce together to cause problems.
A second thought was to create an inset that would be scalloped so each tool could rest in its own trough. To make that idea work, I needed something that would scallop, but not be so heavy and thick that it would eat up the not-so-deep drawer space. I considered using 1-1/2″-thick foam.
I wondered if I could cut the scallops as I could cut cove molding at my table saw – push the piece across the blade at a specified angle, raising the blade with each pass until I reached the needed depth. Then I decided that the top edges of the scallops would not hold up to the wear caused each time I reached into the drawers.
The idea that I finally ran with was to make a series of 1/4″-wide dados into which I could slide slats that would divide off the drawer space and stand up to a bit of abuse. The end result is what’s shown in the opening photo.
To make the dados, I set up my table saw and dado as I would to cut dentil molding. With the two blades from my dado stack (and no chippers) installed at the saw, I raised the blade to cut 3/16″ deep. I set the jig to make cuts every 1-1/2″ – the distance between cuts is set by the placement of the wooden square peg. Knowing that I needed extra length at the ends to fine-tune my fit, I ran the first set of cuts against the fence set appropriately 2″ from the end. To get full use of my blank, I ran a second dado on the opposing face. The dados were cut by placing the previous dado over the square peg and making another pass over the stack. I ran as many cuts as I could while staying about 2″ from the board’s end.
The blank was then cut into four pieces 1″ in width, and taken to the band saw to be sliced into two 5/16″-thick pieces, one for the front of the drawer and another for the back. While at the band saw, I sliced another board into pieces that were also 5/16″ thick; these were the slats.
Each slat was run through my spindle sander, which was setup to be a thickness sander. One pass cleaned away the saw marks on a face of each slat, and a second pass – after a slight adjustment – cleaned up the second face and brought the pieces to the perfect fit for the dados.
I cut the dado pieces to fit into the drawer. I wanted a snug fit, but one I could easily remove and install. Plus, I had to make sure I kept the dados aligned. I then square cut one end of each slat piece, set a stop at my miter saw and brought each piece to length. Each drawer was setup, and my carving chisels nested just fine.
I do have a few steps left. One of which is to line the bottom of each drawer with felt. If and when the cabinet is fully complete, I’ll share a photo. Until then …
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