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Sliding dovetail drawer guides

Sawdustmkr's picture

Hi, I'm Nicky New Guy to this forum, and I am looking for guidance on sliding dovetail drawer guides.  I am in the process of building a cabinet that has several large drawers.  I am going to use sliding dovetails for the drawer guides.  I have made several and they are somewhere between satisfactory and sure could be better.  The bit I have used is a 1/2" 14 deg dovetail set at  9/32.  I am hoping through this forum to speed up my learning curve. Is there a recommended width for the pinboard and the tail board, and if so what is it.  Are there any known articles on this subject that I can acquire either by down load or outside source.  Thanks. Sawdustmkr

RMillard's picture

(post #105254, reply #1 of 35)

Sliding dovetails are a pain to get right. I cut a dado first that has about a 2 degree taper from square to the case side. Then I follow with a dovetail bit run square to the case side, set to cut the dovetail on only one edge of the dado. This will of course make a groove that is wider at the back than the front. Then run a dovetail on the drawer guide. The joint can be fit, using a rabbet plane to cut a tapering rabbet on the other edge of the drawer guide. This makes it very easy to get a good fit, because the plane allows you to sneak up on a good fit. Having said that, unless I'm missing something, I think you could skip the whole dovetail step with drawer guides, as it would add very little the integrity of the piece.

There was an article in the December 1989 issue of Fine Woodworking on cutting sliding dovetails that describes doing it with a two sided dovetail.
Rob Millard

Sawdustmkr's picture

(post #105254, reply #2 of 35)

Thanks.  The procedure that you describe is essentially what I have done.  I am using a visual from a Rockler catalog as my reference point.

vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #3 of 35)

Jack- I have been making slidding dovetail drawer slides for years--I am going to tellyou what I use and it is up to you to do it this way-- I use the Incra double sliding dovetail- there is no taper -- I 'm finnishing a 16 drawer pistol (cherry) cabinet with secret locks and slidding walnut drawer slides-- I couldn't begin to get into the details but believe me these are very strong -- a 22" deep drawer has maybe a 1/8" deflection at full extension-- I have a coffee table that Mack Headley made best of show in '96 with two drawers with walnut slides -- The sliding double dovetail joint lends itself to quite a few other applications good luck

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making sawdust
Patto's picture

(post #105254, reply #4 of 35)

Hi Vern,


Having trouble visualising this, do you have a picture. I want to put a couple of 6" deep drawers for plane parts at the bottom of a wall hung cabinet and want full extension without risk of dropping the fragile tools onto the floor. This seems to be a pretty good approach, do you think?


Dave

vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #5 of 35)

I will try again

making sawdust

making sawdust
vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #6 of 35)

Dave I took a couple of pix but having trouble sending them I will wait till my grandson comes and let him try

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vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #7 of 35)

slidinjg dove tail picures, hope you can see them..

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WillGeorge's picture

(post #105254, reply #8 of 35)

I LOVE that drawer. I see you may have a Incra for the Dovetails?  Well, I have one but never made any of them double dovetails..  Think I'll give it a try..


I have a chest of drawers with sort-of sliding dovetail full extension like yours but I cheated.. I made them by using a modified french cleat (on each side of the drawer.. two cleats, one inverted). Worked like a charm, but I like yours much better.. More 'Class'!

Have a great day.. Life is wonderful even if you are having a bad day!

vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #9 of 35)

hi Will you are right -- they are impressive and not that hard to do-- couple of suggestions -- because of the length of the slides ==plow out the dovetail cut --for instance if you use the 1/2 -14 degree use a 3/8 down spiral and it helps to have a second router table and a extra template to use with the 3/8 bit-- I have just finished a hall table with a pedistal stand all put together with sliding dovs-- some of those were 22 " long and 7" wide fun,fun,fun you can't see it but there is a reason the drawer sides are oak( in the picture) actually you have to start with an extra wide piece because the middle section has to be ripped out --dovs cut and then planned down to ger the inset and the end next to the drawer front is an added piece glued in there -- the inset is needed so the slide will clear the side of the cabinet opening-- this is enough for now -- I will show you how to incorporate the spring loaded catches that act to bring out the slide when the drawer is opened and another to act as a drawer stop oh I used oak because I like the way the glue line disappears good luck

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making sawdust
douglas2cats's picture

(post #105254, reply #24 of 35)

Vern


There's at least one person here who'd still like to know more about the springs that you mentioned earlier.


 I will show you how to incorporate the spring loaded catches that act to bring out the slide when the drawer is opened and another to act as a drawer stop


I'd seen some dovetail slides in a jewelry box book and was pretty much planning on going that way for a Jbox I'm planning. But I didn't totally care for the stop method they used in the book. I'd be interested in knowing more if you've got the time.


Thanks


Doug


 


If you build it - he will come.

If you build it he will come.

vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #25 of 35)

let me see if I can show you-- a little background-- I had an idea of how it should work and I was making some Incra wood hinges at the time -- so I already had a flat flange and a barrel with a 1/8 hole thru the barrel --so if I rip off just one eyelet I would have what I needed to become a catch that would have a pivot eyelet-- it would have to be recessed and have a pin come up from the bottom to pivot on--and to operate it would need tension that pushed it into a notch -- the notch would be cut into the opposing surface the tension would be created by a spring ( 3/16 dia ) epoxied into a shallow hole drilled behind the catch( it takes some practice to arrive at the right strength and length of spring how does this work as a drawer stop? I have two of thses on each side of the drawer --one to be sure the walnut slide comes out with the drawer --the other one is recessed into the mate slide that is mounted to the inside of the cabinet -- so when the walnut slide passes by that catch it stops the drawer from going any further thus you have a drawer stop-- the little pin hole is there so a object such as a paper clip can be inserted to release the catch and the hole has to be located at the right spot I will send this to you now and try sending a picture afterwards- I know this is as clear as mud so you will probably have some questions Vern

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douglas2cats's picture

(post #105254, reply #28 of 35)

Thanks. That's a little bit clearer than mud. I think I might actually understand this after a re-reading a few times. It sounds like a pretty good design if I'm picturing it correctly. A pic would certainly help.  I'm going to try sketching up what I think you're describing based on this and your earlier pics. If I'm able to come up with a sketch that makes sense, then it means I was able to get the jist of it. Either way, I'll likely have another question or two on the details after sketching.


One generic question - I'm planning on using these on JBox drawers that are behind inset doors on the box. So I need not just full-extension, but full-extension-plus. So that when the doors are open, the back of the drawers are even with where the outside surface of the door would have been. So the back of the drawer would end up extending another inch to inch-and-half or so beyond the drawer carcase. I think this is just a simple matter of where I set the drawer-slide stops and possibly making the slides a bit longer. Or does tippiness/deflection due to the extra extension mean there's other issues I need to deal with as well?


 


If you build it - he will come.

If you build it he will come.

vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #29 of 35)

sorry I am this late getting back to you but our state fair is on now and our obligations in there sometimes makes us quite late getting home and I tried sending a better picture but was unsuccessful but will get my grandson to do it --I don't know how deep your drawers will be but this sliding dovetail is 2 1/4" from top to bottom-- I would venture to say that your jewelery box drawers are not going to be so big that you could probably extend them and inch or more out from the cabinet --the full extension strength of these slides is phenominal -- remember on a long slide ( I would say anything over8 or 9" ) you need to hog it out with a 3/8 straight bit or sometimes I set everything up like I want it for the 1/2 dov bit and just sort of mark the end with the dov bit then set my dado blade for a 3/8 cut and and the heighth just a triffle less the final depth of cut and hog it out that way( a hint -- do the same with a scrap piece first) you need to see a picture of it and I will try to get one to you

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vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #30 of 35)

let me try sending these pix to you about the spring catches

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douglas2cats's picture

(post #105254, reply #31 of 35)

Vern
Thanks. This last batch of pics really cleared some things up. I'd been reviewing your previous posts and pics over the last few days and putting together some questions. I warned you, I'd probably have more questions. I just hope you're willing to keep putting up with me. I apologize up front for the length.


Before I forget this - If this stuff doesn't count as 'Fine Woodworking', I don't know what does. Personally I think this would make a great FWW article. Next time you build another of these, I really think you ought to get some helper to take step-by-step digital pics as you work. Then sit down and write up a description of what you're doing. Put this together and contact Taunton for a possible article submission. I think most mags would probably be willing/able to help out with the wordsmithing if you could get a basic draft put together. Maybe you could enlist the help of another Knots member in your area to help take pics and act as a sounding board as you write it up.


I follow your earlier reply with regards to hogging out longer DT slots first with a dado blade or spiral router bit. The torque and chip clogging tend to want to shift your stock from getting a completely straight cut when you try to take out too much material with the DT bit alone.


OK - Here's the questions I've come up with. Before I get to the spring catch stops, I've got some that are just on the slides themselves.


1) Aprox. how thick are the walnut slides? How thick do you start with, and what is the finished thickness after machining the DT slots in them. It's hard to tell from the pics, but it looks like the final thickness might be as thin as 1/8" ?? I'll take your word on the full extension strength of the slides, but it's hard to reconcile that with the thinness of what I think I'm seeing.


2) I'm kind of inferring from your earlier reply about planing the drawer sides down after slotting, that you're probably doing the same for the walnut slides? Are you putting in the DT slots while the walnut is reasonably thick and then planing to the final thickness? That would explain how you're able to get them that thin without destroying them during DT slotting. Are you running them through the planer as-is, or are you using some sort of DT keyed carriage board for support? I'm just wondering how you avoid flex as the material gets that thin so that the planer doesn't chew them up and spit them out.


3) I understand why you're planing the drawer sides down, but I'm not sure I see why you need to put the DT slots in first, and then plane. Could it be done in either order? Are you just planing after slotting because that's the order you have to do the slides in (I think) and want to do the machining steps at the same time? Or maybe it's just easier to fine tune the sliding fit that way? Just wondering if I'm missing some subtle detail here.


4) To come out flush with the drawer opening, the mating slide inside the case has to be mounted to a rail, or inner wall, or something. I'm assuming that the DT key and slot profile on those run the complete depth of the case interior? Are you just forming the DT keys and slot on the rail itself? Or are you making another thin walnut piece and mounting it to the spacer rail? And if so, are you attaching that to the rail with sliding DT's as well? Or is the back of it just flat?


OK - now a couple of questions on the stop/spring setup
I thought in your earlier pics that I'd spotted the paper clip access hole and knew where you were placing the latch pieces. Your last pics confirmed it.


5) I was mentally struggling with how you were getting the hole for the pivot pin through the DT key, then I read your earlier posts again and found "start with an extra wide piece because the middle section has to be ripped out--dovs cut and then planned down to get the inset". Am I right in thinking that the only real reason you need to rip out the middle is to be able to drill the pivot pin hole? And you're then installing the pivot pin, spring, and latch before you glue the other pieces back onto the middle?


6) The other thing I was having trouble with was due to the thickness questions that I had on the sliders. On the back side of the slider, there's a small notch to catch the end of the latch piece I think? And this notch is right behind or very near the paperclip access hole? Based on my thinking that the slides are only around 1/8" thick, I was wondering how you were able to notch that without blowing through the wall of the slider. How shallow can that notch be and still be able to engage the latch?


 


Even more questions -
I'm wondering if you experimented with the design before finally arriving at the finished product. If for example I wanted to try some of the following modifications, have you already been down that road and know that they're dead ends?


7) You've got the slide positioned at the middle of the drawer. Is there any reason you know of that says it won't work well if the slider is towards the bottom of the drawer? I'm wondering for a couple of reasons: If I got it closer to the bottom and possibly even moved the inset latch off of the DT key and onto the lower flat section, this would allow me to get the pivot pin hole coming up through the bottom of the drawer side. This means I wouldn't have to rip out the middle section first. Also if I thread tapped the holes through the drawer sides, then used a fine brass machine screw and ground off the threads where they would pass through the latch eyelet, I could screw the pin up from the bottom through the drawer side and through the latch. That way if the latch piece ever broke I could easily install another one.


8) Your slides are flush with the drawer face to allow for clearing the opening. Assuming the drawer thickness would allow it, have you ever tried completely insetting them so that they're instead flush with the drawer sides? You'd have to make corresponding changes on the portion inside the case, but here's the reason I'm asking: On my JBox project, I'd still like to do handcut through DT's on the corner joints and would also like to avoid having to glue on that extra joint section at the front. I'm thinking that maybe I could completely inlet it into the sides, and also do stopped DT slots cuts that would end about 1/4" from where they corner tails/pins meet, then slightly shorten the front end of the slider to match the stopped cut gap. I think this would still let the sliders get past the drawer opening. Any reason you can think of why this wouldn't work?


Think I'd better stop here before I really try your patience (if I haven't already).


Thanks
Doug


 


If you build it - he will come.

If you build it he will come.

vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #32 of 35)

oh boy let me print this out so I can answer all you questions-- I appreciate the bouquet but I'm afraid it might get too complicated-- yes you almost must hog out the dt's because they have to be perfectly straight and clean-- the slides are 3/32 thick --set the depth of cut (d/c ) add 3/32 and plane your stock to that thickness--the strength is in the vertical application---I HAVE TO ASK YOU THIS DO YOU HAVE AN INCRA OR SIMILAR FENCE ???because in the book it tells about the sliding dovetail---and what template to use-- you start at the outside edge and pull the stock towards you [for the first cut] even the straight bit ,then flip the stock over and make the next cut at the next setting on the template -- you do not plane after the first demensioning--you cut the dt's in the drawer side when the side is the original 3/4 thickness then plane it down 3/32times 2 so the slide will clear the cabinet opening ---you are right ,you need vertical suports [2] on the inside walls to fasten the inside rails to [see pictures ,I hope ] now the paperclip opening -- the actual hole position is goverened by where the notch is and the notch is goverened by what you want the walnut slide to be doing-- if you want to be sure the slide comes out to support the drawer than position the latch and notch near the middle--in the picture that I will try to send you --the catch is near the end of the inside slide because I am using the latch as a drawer stop -- no -- I drill the hole for the pivit pin after I glue the side back together -- it's close but you can do it and your are right --use a threaded 8/32 or similar for a pin and be sure to drill the hole[from the bottom ] deep enough so the end of the screw has a home--the notch on the back of the wal slider is sensitive be careful--If you blow it out --flip the slidder over and try again-- no I have not put the slide any where but in the middle-- it would probably work --for work drawers I use these plastic corners they got for protecting drywall corners they work slick -- I don't se why you couldn't use hand cut d/t-- you would have to dead end the d/t in the drawer sides --I don't think it would look as good oh don't worry about my patience-- I had a dairy for 34 years milking 450 3x a day I'm beyond patient --I'll send the pix next

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vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #33 of 35)

the inside slides have two screws in each vertical --one for up and down adjustment and one to lock it in place after it is adjusted

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douglas2cats's picture

(post #105254, reply #34 of 35)

Vern


Thanks again for all your help. The added pics on the case interior and the answers to all my questions were a big help. And as a matter of fact I DO have an Incra fence, although I haven't come anywhere close to making it do all it's tricks like you have. I'll have to pull out the manual and look up the section on the sliding DTs. It's going to be a while before I get to trying this out. I'm still sketching up the JBox design. It's going to be another 4-6 weeks before the shop warms up to the point I can work out there and then I've got to do the casework and some inlay before I get started on the drawers. As soon as I get something done there,  I'll get some pics and let you know how it turned out.


Thanks


Doug


 


If you build it - he will come.

If you build it he will come.

vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #35 of 35)

My pleasure I'm sure-- glad to see that you have the incra -- if you have the instruction book with the coil binder -- I haven't seen the slidding dt pictured in it-- but it is in the older original instruction book-- if you can't find it give woodpeckers a call and I am sure they would gladly send the info you need for a small exchange--I really hasitate to tell you this but we are having some cool weather -- it dropped down to 65 this a.m.-- if it wasn't for the sea breeze this afternoon ,I think I would have turned the AC on Doug . if you ever get down around Tampa, look me up swing over on vesablackadar@msn.com and I'll give you a land line

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ron61's picture

(post #105254, reply #10 of 35)

Man the wood guides look way better .


NICE I got to try it.


Glad to see the pics. Ron


 


 

 

 

vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #13 of 35)

Ron here is another use for sliding dovs but you have to micro the cut just a hair bigger so they will go together

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ron61's picture

(post #105254, reply #15 of 35)

I like that - Have you seen the heart shaped dove tails ?


 


 

 

 

vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #17 of 35)

hi Ron to answer your question no -- where did you see a heart shape joint? I think I know what you saw but I'll have to research it to come up with the correct terminology thanks for the comeback

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ron61's picture

(post #105254, reply #19 of 35)

They were hand cut . Not sure where I seen it- think it was on a old blanket chest

 


 

 

 

zombeerose's picture

(post #105254, reply #11 of 35)

Hi Vern,


Great job on the drawers!  I would love to hear/see more details about how you constructed them so I can incorporate them in one of my next projects.


Z


"100 Years" -- scribbled on the wall by a woodworker to remind him to do his best and as a warranty on his work -- "If anything I make fails in the first hundred years, bring it back, and I'll take care of it. After that, there will be a small charge. (Original purchaser only)"

vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #12 of 35)

hi can you do the sliding dov with exact repeatability?

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zombeerose's picture

(post #105254, reply #20 of 35)

Well - probably.  I'm still a newbie but I am pretty confident with my abilities.  And I can't improve my skills unless I try...


Z


"100 Years" -- scribbled on the wall by a woodworker to remind him to do his best and as a warranty on his work -- "If anything I make fails in the first hundred years, bring it back, and I'll take care of it. After that, there will be a small charge. (Original purchaser only)"

vern's picture

(post #105254, reply #21 of 35)

you are correct --you must keep trying and spending and trying and well you know the routine-- if you want to get serious and produce some nice joinery --go to incra.com and brose around a little-- and then tell yourself --" I can do that " the instructions are quite good and their phone support is at your fingertips== I don't know where in the world you are but possibly there is someone near you who could help you

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WillGeorge's picture

(post #105254, reply #23 of 35)

I'm still a newbie but I am pretty confident with my abilities. 


 So said the new Hubbie...


So sorry..  I had to..


Edited 1/30/2005 12:10 pm ET by Will George

Have a great day.. Life is wonderful even if you are having a bad day!

Patto's picture

(post #105254, reply #14 of 35)

Thanks, very impressive control for the tolerances, and definately not for hand tools.


Have you done this with a single dovetail instead of the pair? and, how do you find wood movement with the different species and the obvious close tolerances to make this work? (tounge-in-cheek; but my natural Australian assumption would be that the air conditioned environment might not have enough variation to cause movement after the piece is settled in its new home.)


Dave