Drawer Repairs

THE repairs referred to hereunder will apply, mainly, to such fixtures as built-in cupboards, dressers, etc. Drawers in other furniture are not subject to so much wear, and in any event the repair of defects in this superior class of furniture is usually a job for the skilled craftsman. However, minor repairs may be undertaken on the lines recommended here. It is not much use attempting to remedy defects in drawers unless one understands the basic construction of this piece of equip- ment, so the principal parts are shown in Figs. 1 to 5. The drawer, a small box, is unlike ordinary boxes in that its two sides and front are extended below the bottom of the drawer. They run on horizontal slips built into the dresser, and are guided by other slips rising vertically a little way from these runners ; or by the inner face of the dresser sides. In course of time, the bottom edges of the drawer sides get worn away by the constant opening and shutting; if the sides are comparatively hard, the runners wear. This wearing away is greater at the back, so that the drawer becomes tilted, the front no longer fitting squarely into the opening. Another defect of wear is that the drawer kicks up at the back as it is pulled out. This is prevented in good work by guides known as kickers, which are screwed to the framework at such a height that although they allow the top edges of the drawer sides to pass freely, they prevent any rising of the back portion. Of course, the top guides may wear, or the top edges of the drawer sides. When there are two drawers side by side, a central upright partition is fitted to the framework, with a wider runner which carries the inner edges of both drawers. Often this central runner is poorly fitted, particularly at the back, and may have dropped a little. Most of the fixing in such work is by glue, with glued angle blocks added at suitable points to afford extra strength.

Dampness will cause the glued surfaces to part away at a joint, and any sudden jar during removal may break the joint. The remedy is usually to refix with screws or fine nails, also coating the joint with hot glue after scraping away any old glue. This re-gluing is possible only when the old joint is good, clean and unsplintered.

Yet another common defect is the absence of a stop block to prevent the drawer being pushed in too far. Very often such a block is fixed to the sides of the drawer opening, at or near the termination of the guides that rest on the runners. Here again, glue is often the only fixing, and the block may be driven off by rough use of the drawer. It should be fixed again, with glue and screws. In cabinets, and in some kitchen furniture, a different kind of’ stop is used, consisting of a thin fillet of wood glued and nailed to the bottom rail of the drawer opening, as far back from the front as will allow the drawer front to go in flush. The fillet must be thin enough to clear the drawer bottom, which is fixed about half-an-inch up from the bottom edge of the sides; and the drawer front, held by the fillet, cannot go in any further.

Stops of this kind frequently get pushed off; they become loosened, and then an unlucky push will wrench them off the nails, or pull out the nails. At any sign of defective working here, the fillet should be replaced by one of hardwood, glued and fixed further by fine screws taken well below the surface. Neglect of this prompt remedy may mean that the heads of the nails will score the bottom edge of the drawer front, or do other damage. In a cabinet drawer the stop, if loose, may break away some of the wood of the drawer front.

Repairs to runners and Guides

A badly scored runner is difficult to repair, as it is not very accessible. Cut a piece of thin plywood to the width of the runner, but shorter than the full length by an amount equal to the thickness of the drawer front. Rub the existing runner smooth with coarse glasspaper, and level up the back end, if required, by a thin piece of deal cut to a wedge and pinned on with short, fine veneer pins. Punch the pins down flush. Next, nail on the piece of plywood, on top of the old runner, so that a space is left at the front end for the drawer front to rest on the uncovered portion of the old runner. Both sides of the opening must be served like this.

Now the position will be that the drawer sides are too deep to pass through the opening. So these sides, bottom edge, must be planed or chiselled down until the drawer will again enter freely. Make a cut with a fine tenon saw just behind the drawer front, to the depth needed. Measure the depth of the drawer side at the back, as the wood may have worn away to some extent. Use a marking gauge to get a line along the drawer side to indicate the amount of wood to be cut away. Then carefully pare away with a sharp chisel. More cuts with the saw may be made at intermediate points along the side, to prevent the chisel going down too deeply. Finish off with a bull-nose rebate plane, if one is available, and finally with glasspaper. Gauge the remaining side of the drawer and cut this away to the same depth. Try the drawer in place, and if it needs easing, take a little more off the bottom edges.

This method can be used only when the drawer bottom is fitted far enough up from the lower edge of the back face of the drawer. It is possible sometimes to chisel away the worn part of the drawer runner, and to fit in a thin fillet flush with the existing surface. Then the drawer need not be interfered with, unless it has worn away also; the difficulty lies in the lack of space in which to use the tool.

In the case of a good class kitchen table, in which the table*************** top is fixed down by buttons screwed on the underside, take off the top intact; this will give access to the parts underneath. Sometimes a dresser top can be removed in a similar manner.

Repairs to. Drawers

One of the most common troubles is that the drawer bottom slides back out of its groove. In older furniture, this board is made of solid wood, very inferior in strength to the plywood bottoms now almost always used. In order to allow for expansion in damp weather, this board was always put in loose, without glue. Further, although a nail, or in better work, a screw, is generally inserted through the rear edge, where it projects beyond the back of the drawer, no other nails or fixings are used. The idea was that this single screw or nail could be easily withdrawn, and the bottom board pushed forward, if necessary.

Owing to the constant movement of the drawer in and out, the bottom board sometimes cuts a slot outwards from the fixing screw or nail, or breaks off a piece of stuff behind the screw. Where possible insert a screw through at some other point over the rear edge. If the board is badly broken, fit a new one from the thinnest plywood. Usually the bottom rests in a groove in the front of the drawer, and on top of hardwood fillets nailed to the drawer sides.

Sometimes a grooved fillet is nailed on; the bottom board then slides in from the back, is pushed into the groove in the front, and is fixed with one screw at the back, as described. A moulded fillet, or a bead, is usually nailed on from the inside of the drawer, to hold the board down and make a neat finish. But of course, if a grooved fillet is used, it will show a moulded edge on top.

Good drawers are dovetailed, because this form of joint is the best for jobs where the front of the box has to stand a pull. The making of dovetails is a difficult task that needs accuracy and skill. For ordinary kitchen furniture a suitable and strong drawer can be made up by rebating the side boards into the back and front boards. Much of the difficulty in drawer construction comes from the use of quite thin wood for the back and sides, to give lightness. Provided the amateur uses somewhat stouter boards he will bo able to turn out a good drawer by the rebating method.

When the sides or back of a drawer have broken away badly, there is little that can be done. The dovetails will have broken out at some places; wood will be missing at vital points. The best that can be done is to apply thin hot glue to the displaced parts, and to coax them back again. Stand the drawer on a table, with the faulty part upmost; lay a piece of level board on top of the side to be pushed back into place, and apply gentle pressure until the dovetails go in again. If the side has warped outwards, place a heavy weight on top until the glue hardens; span the front and back with a piece of board, and put the weight on that, thus equalizing the pressure. A few veneer pins may be driven in after the side has gone back, and before the glue gets cold. But do not hammer or knock the joint after this, or the jarring will break the glued joint.

Always drill a hole for the pins, through the side and just entering into the under part; a fretwork drill will do quite well for this job.

Making New Drawer

Cut and fit a front board to the drawer opening, making it an easy fit. Then rebate the ends, to take the side boards. The drawer back may be merely butt-jointed, or it may be rebated like the front board, to take the sides. If a butt joint is used, the back board will be as long as the distance between the sides, measured at the front board; it will be a tight fit between the sides, and be nailed from the latter. If the back board is to be rebated, it will have to be the full length, the same as the front board; it may, however, be a tiny fraction less than this length, if the front makes a really close fit to the drawer opening. This is to ensure that the drawer does not stick at the back. It is best in kitchen furniture to allow plenty of clearance. There are so many changes of air, owing to cooking and laundering, that a closely fitted drawer would be sure to stick in damp air.

Nail fillets on three sides to support the drawer bottom. When this has been done, turn the drawer right side up, slide in the bottom from the back, and tack in pieces of quarter-round moulding on top of the bottom, closing the latter down to the hllct underneath. These pieces of moulding should be mitred, and be nailedto the drawer sides.

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