In order to finish the kitchen cabinet project, I spent my two days off and the weekend working on it.  The plan was to make three shallow drawers that fully extend in order to easily be able to get at the stuff at the back of the cabinet.

I spent the time prepping the interior of the cabinet and building the drawers.  This sort of project is a lot more time consuming than you might think it would be.  I guess it’s because you not only have to build the things but since nothing is prefabricated you have to do a great deal of measuring to make sure everything fits as well as putting the finish on things.

I chose to build the drawers with dovetails joints and, further, to cut them by hand.  I’m not convinced yet that if you are only making one drawer or two that you save any time by using a router-based dovetailing jig once you take into account all the setup and cleanup.  Not to mention the $500 price tag that the nicer jigs have.

I spent several days out there building.  It’s one of those activities that I can get engaged in and not be aware of the passing hours.  Time ceases to have much meaning for me.  This is a nice poetic way of saying I enjoy the activity but I had a hard time remembering to drink water out there in the heat.  The garage is a hot, humid place in the summer in Tulsa and I quickly became drenched in sweat.  I wore a hat or sweatband and just kept working and drinking water.   It’s not so bad once you get used to it and you decide that you’re going to stay outside.  The hard part is if you’re going in and out all the time.  I built up the three drawers, added some details like rounding over the top edges and cutting a scalloped opening in the front.  I’m still in the middle of staining them and should add the polyurethane this week.

As always happens to me, I got to the end part and found out that the drawer was about 1/32 of an inch too wide which made the drawer slide bind up as it was pushed in so I had to go back out and sand off part of one side.  I guess in the old days, they would have grabbed a hand plane and shaved some off the side and I could have done that but I used a random orbit sander instead.   I was getting lazy. Pushing a wide plane is pretty strenuous work and I was hot enough already but with the sander, I got this film of powdered wood all over myself so I’m not sure I came out ahead but the surface was smoother I think.

In any case, I think I’m coming down the home stretch now.  It’s a long home stretch though since each coat takes quite a long time to dry.

Over the past few days, I’ve crossed over into a new level of ability.  In the past, I would struggle with the dovetail saw in trying to cut accurately along the lines I had marked and the saw would bind often but at some point this weekend, I began to saw smoothly and accurately.  What used to take several minutes now takes about half that and seems to take less energy.  My work with the chisel has gotten more accurate and natural too.  The joints I made in the beginning look quite a bit more sloppy than the razor sharp ones I made later.  They still look a bit loose even though they are not; sort of like what router-cut dovetails look like when you don’t have the jig exactly calibrated and the joint is loose.  Hopefully, I will get that part taken care off with a bit more practice.  I’ve seen dovetails cut by good craftsman and they are amazingly tight and precise so I know it can be done with a bit more professionalism.

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