Let’s pick up from where we left off. I had milled and cut all the parts to size, cutout and shaped the blades. If you noticed, I did not bead the case sides. The reason for this is, I want to route the dovetails into the case side for the blades first. This reduces the chance of tearing out the beads on the case.
The case sides, already cut to size, are taken to the bench. I then use my layout stick to transfer the locations of the blades to the case sides. In the photo the top of the chest is to the left. As you can see, I draw the top, center and bottom lines of the blades onto the case side. I extend the top line all the way across the case side but I only extend the center and bottom lines of the blade across a few inches. The reason for this is, my drawer runner (the piece that the drawer actually sits upon) is going to be 1/16″ to 1/8″ thinner than the drawer blade. This helps reduce the chances of a drawer expanding during humid times and binding on the case structure. Since my router jig works off the center line of the space I am routing, I only need the blade center line marked a few inches (my blade will only be about 3″ wide overall when I’m done). I then mark off the thickness of my drawer runner and find the center of that dimension and extend that line across the entire case side except for the first couple of inches. It may not be noticeable in the photo because my center lines are offset by only 1/16″.
Hopefully, you’re still with me. Now that my layout is complete, I set up my router and fence to route the blade dovetails. As you can see, I have a fence clamped to the case side (the piece of white tile board is my spacer that is exactly cut to one half my router base dimension). I’ve used my spacer to set the fence in place off my blade center line. I begin with using a straight router bit that is slightly smaller than the smallest dimension of my dovetail bit. I set that just slightly less than the depth to which I will make my dovetail. Run the router against the fence and cut a dado into the case side a little further than the width of the blade.
If you have a second router, set up your dovetail bit to the depth you need and route using the same fence setting. Release the fence and move to the next blade. Repeat this process until you have all the case portion of the blade dovetails cut. As you can see in the photo, I did not route a dovetail for the bottom blade. More about that in another segment.
Once I have the dovetail sockets routed in both sides, I move on to the dadoes for the drawer runners. As you can see in the picture of the routed case side, the center lines that cross the side are slightly off the center of the sockets. This, as I mentioned before, is to accommodate the difference in thickness between the blade and the runner. On this piece, I made the blades 13/16″ and the runners 11/16″. So, I turn the case side around and use the same centering spacer to clamp my fence in the proper position. With my router outfitted with an 11/16″ straight bit, I route the dadoes up and slightly into the dovetail sockets for the blades but not all the way through the case.
Once you have all the dadoes routed, head to the tablesaw and rabbet out the back of the case sides for the backboards of the chest. The rabbet is 5/8″ wide and half the thickness of the case side.
The last step in this post is to head back over to the router table and bead the front edge of the case sides. The case only has a bead on the inside edge of the case side so, you’ll have to set up an unaltered flush trim bit and trim off the bead on the outside edge of the case side. Make sure you do not route off the bead where the dovetailed sockets passes through. You’ll be very dissapointed if you do (and you’re chest will end up a little shallower than orginally planned). Next time, we’ll get the case together and fit the blades.
As always, if you have questions or comments, make sure you post them. The easiest way to keep on top of this project is to subscribe to the RSS feed (it’s that little “subscribe” logo in the top right corner of the page). If you really want to get a handle on making a project of this complexity, let me know and I’ll consider putting together a class. Thanks for stopping by the blog.