NEW! Faster Search Option


Beaded Drawers

coldprofit's picture

Beaded Drawers (post #158471)


I am working on the design of a desk which will have drawers with an elaborate bead running around the perimeter of the drawer. It's really more than a bead, but practically  a 3/4" molding. I would like to do the drawer side connection using half blind dovetails ideally. My concern is with the bead on the side of the drawer glued perpedicular to the end grain of the face and shrinking/swelling. I saw an article on this in FWW a while back, but the drawers they do are not too tall. I have lower drawers that are up to 10" tall with the same detail.  Am I worried about something that is not an issue? the wood is walnut.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks

hammer1's picture

I had a built in project a (post #158471, reply #1 of 7)

I had a built in project a while ago with wide drawer fronts, inset with beaded edge. I worried about movement in the situation and decided to make the drawer fronts out of plain sliced plywood. I used French dovetails to connect the front to the drawer, then applied the bead to cover the edges. With 10" wide solid wood, chances are very good that movement will open the miters.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

bead_rabbeted.JPG227.77 KB
coldprofit's picture

Bead Detail (post #158471, reply #2 of 7)

Thanks for your response. I think your right and I really don't want the possibility of the drawer bead coming off on my mind as I send this desk out the door. No phone calls about failed details please! I'm working on a detail where the front is built as a traditional  mitered frame and panel and the sides connected to the frame sides with a slot dovetail. Not the best detail in my mind as the side would need to be pinned or glued at one point and not the length of the miter to allow movement. Just not elegant.

I like the plywood rout, but this client has specified no exposed veneers. He's an eccentric to say the professor. Honestly, he would never know unless he scratched through it, but this was part of the deal.

Any other ideas/comments? Thanks,


hammer1's picture

Instead of beading the drawer (post #158471, reply #3 of 7)

Instead of beading the drawer front, why not bead the frame, looks almost the same when the drawer is closed. As far as carcase construction methods, I think I would not try to reinvent the wheel.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

ring's picture

bead the frames (post #158471, reply #4 of 7)

I second the motion to bead the face frames, not the drawer fronts.  It has several advantages -

1. No expansion/contraction issues no matter what the size.

2. You can rabbet all the FF stock before you attach to the cabinets, and use the ledge to simply nail (with glue) the frames to the carcase.  The nails get covered by the bead afterwards.

3. You can fit the drawer fronts afterwards with no limitations on how you need to plane or trim them to fit the openings.

It's my preferred way of doing beading.

Eef's picture

hi david, you mention (post #158471, reply #5 of 7)

hi david,

you mention rabbeting all the ff stock first.  you mean after the face frames are assembled-right?  as in with a router and rabbeting bit-yeah?

if that is the case, it is an elegant solution and i look forward to giving it a try.  would you mind posting a photo, or two, of that sort of work?

thank you,


ring's picture

I do it differently (post #158471, reply #7 of 7)

No, I do it differently. We used to create rabbets with the router but it takes time and chiseling the corners by hand is tedious. When you're doing 100 corners it's just too tedious and the odds are that a few will be less than perfect. I glue face frames right to the carcase and each other without ever assembling the face frames alone. Typically my face frame material is 20mm thick (just over 3/4") by all kinds of widths. I set up the shaper to take a perfect 10mm x 10mm bite. I use that to rabbet each face frame piece as I prepare, and use the same setup to create the "step" on the endgrain where the parts meet. Run glue along the carcase edges, use an 18 gauge nailer (or crown stapler) to hold each piece down. I put clamps across the frame at the joints to make sure they close up tight. Sorry I don't have any photos but if I remember I'll take some the next time I do a cabinet like this. The nailing makes sense only if you place your faceframes flush with the insides of the cabinet like I do. This system may seem unconventional at first but we've been doing it for years because it has many many advantages. I've made this point several times in the past...can't get into it now. regards,
acornw's picture

Historically... (post #158471, reply #6 of 7)

Historically, this is solved by making a five ply drawer front. The core is solid wood, and then cross bands on the faces, then face veneers. This makes an effective stable panel that will not move cross grain, and will allow attachment of moldings 'crossgrain'.

The sides can be solid wood and run little risk of problems since the stable fronts will hold true and movement will not be so much as to crack the sides.

This is still done today by finer makers all over the world, and is a bit more craftsmanly than plywood or MDF.  It also does not compromise the dovetail process like plywood does.  You can see this on Baker and Henredon and similar makes, even though they are all now made in China.

Dave S