Which direction to face wood sides on dovetailed drawers? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 Old 03-06-2017, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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Which direction to face wood sides on dovetailed drawers?

I am working on some large dovetailed drawers, about 9" tall. The sides are 1/2" maple, which was resawn from thicker lumber. It curved fairly badly when resawn. It has since been milled nice and flat (I let it sit for a while before milling to ensure it was a bit more stable).

Given the drawer sides will continue to want to curve slightly over time, which way should I face them.

Curving out, like this )===(
Or in, like this (===)

Parentheses are side
Equals is drawer front.
Hopefully that bad text illustration makes sense.
My thought is curving out, as the dovetails their should hold it well, but would like some advice.
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-06-2017, 06:35 AM
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It doesn't matter, if the drawer side is going to cup it's going to cup regardless of how you turn it. It's why most of us use plywood for drawer boxes.
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-06-2017, 06:59 AM
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As Steve says it does not matter. Like you I prefer solid wood when building drawers. I have never had one warp.

Proceed with what you are doing and good luck.

George
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-06-2017, 10:55 AM
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Assuming you thinking about the woods potential, I would position...(===).
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post #5 of 10 Old 03-06-2017, 04:24 PM
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9" tall drawer. How long and wide? What is the bottom to be made of? Quite honestly, if the drawer were very large, I'd have gone with 3/4" thick material for the sides and back. Also the bottom if the drawer is large. How long did the wood sit in your shop before you resawed it?

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post #6 of 10 Old 03-06-2017, 04:50 PM
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I tend to disagree with the consensus. If you orient the curve so the concave side is out and the convex side is in, then when you assemble it with your bottom in place, the bottom will push the inward curve in the center out and it will be pretty straight, at least at the bottom of the drawer, and that is where slides are usually mounted.
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-07-2017, 10:31 AM
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(=======)

First off, the dovetails front and back will help reduce the cupping. Possibly not a lot, but some. It'll still move in the long run, though, and here's why I think you should put the concave side in:

1) When they cup, you may need to reduce the thickness to get the drawer to slide. I would expect to be able to do that more safely if the outside is convex, and it will thin only one part of the side, not two.

2) If the inside is convex, there's a chance the drawer bottom will fall out of its groove. (I assume you're putting the bottom in a groove. If not, ignore this piece.)
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-08-2017, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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Drawers are 9" tall, 40" wide, and 19" deep.

The sides and back are 1/2" maple.
The front is 3/4" walnut

The sides were originally going to be 5/8" thick, but with the curve after the resaw, I had to plane them down to 1/2" to remove the curve.

Sounds like there isn't a clear consensus, which usually means either way will work. I am not an expert at dovetails, so given that facing either way will work, I will likely choose to face the boards based on which side of the tailboard looks the best after cutting tails.

Everything is nice and flat now, I just worry a bit about movement down the road. I am leaning towards )===( as the default, as I think the small tails at the top and bottom of my dovetail design should hold this well and it would be easier to correct if it moves slightly over time.

If they move enough that the bottom of the drawer is falling out of the slot, then it is more screwed up than I thought. I don't think this should be a big problem.

Thank you for the input.

Last edited by Peter StJohn; 03-08-2017 at 01:48 PM.
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post #9 of 10 Old 03-08-2017, 02:05 PM
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Okay, I mis-understood the op's question. I thought he'd meant bowing. With cupping, yes, the joints should take care of it where it matters.
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-08-2017, 06:29 PM
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If you start with a 9" straight and dry piece of lumber, dovetail at the corners, your chances of having problems with bowing should be minuscule. The dovetails will help hold the pieces straight.
If your lumber isn't dry, that's an entirely different issue and be ready for bowing, twisting etc.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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