Fair Woodworking

August 1, 2012

Piston fit drawer

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***


I wouldn’t say I’m the type to get too attached to my projects.

Not normally anyways, but from time to time, without meaning too, a bond forms with a project.

This becomes a problem when you are making it for somebody else.

In these cases, to let go hurts the heart like the time your dog ran away, or you lose a family air loom, or when you discover you are out of milk after you’ve already poured your cereal.

As with a number of other things I make, this was being donated through my woodworking club to go to our local children’s hospital in their annual fund-raiser. I’ve been trying to improve/learn a better sense of proportion so built the carcass  based only on proportions. There was no functional purpose driving the dimensions.

As soon as I committed to the dimensions, and started cutting my tails I became convinced that I was building a very funny looking box.

It can be a little deflating when this happens, but I chose to take a deep breath, and just try to survive the experience, like when you make a wrong turn in a bad neighborhood, or when uncle Jerry beats you to the bathroom.

The quality of the pine I was using was a little suspect, and almost too soft to work with, and not just a little ugly, but I tried to make due. You know you are going to have a hard time when a freshly sharpened blade still allows tear out in BOTH directions…

Despite my concerns, as the assembly came together, I found I’d become enamored with just about every aspect, every dimension of the finished project.

How can you not fall in love with a project when it motivates you to make new tools, learn a new form of dovetail, as well as mortice & tenons? With all that, I also wanted to try out making a true piston fit drawer. As cool as all the other stuff was, it’s nothing compared to a well fit drawer!

But is the finished project as sweet as I seem to think it is? Or is it as dumb looking as I thought it would be originally? I’m struggling with objectivity here.

Is this a case of love being blind. You know, like when a parent can’t see that their kids are funny looking, or when your lucky underwear becomes a bio hazard.

So presentation day comes along, and it’s time to say goodbye. When we all got together, each one of us had to give a few words on what we made. While I was demonstrating how smooth and awesome the piston drawer action is, I accidentally let it slip that it was going to be a little hard to let this one go.

Later, being the only hand tool guy in the group, it’s not unusual for a small crowd to gather around whatever I’ve made. Mostly I think it’s because they can’t believe anyone could actually make something with only handtools, but this time it was different. This time they were debating what to do with this little box. The consensus was that while it was really cool, and the drawer was kind’a fun to play with, no non-woodworker would pay more than $5 for it.

In the end the others approached me to ask if I wanted to take it back. In exchange I could then make something less personally significant.

Clearly design is not my specialty…

But no matter, it sits on my desk now. It’s empty because I really have no need for such a little drawer, but every now and then, I pull the drawer open so I can close it again. You can feel the resistance of the air as it rushes out of the bottom.

5 bucks….


I should also mention that although the drawer slides very smoothly, I found that the air pressure gave it enough resistance that you had to hold the carcass when you opened it. I ended up buying some rubber bumpers to give it traction.

I think I paid $2.99 for the bumpers.

Five bucks?
No, no. I’m fine…


1 Comment

  1. Awesome post!!!!….

    Comment by Boo — August 2, 2012 @ 6:00 am

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