Need Drawer Fitting Advice


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I'm currently building another federal style sideboard. As you know, federal style drawers and doors are encased with bead molding around their circumference and this is then inset into the sideboard carcass. The weather in my area has been hot and humid for an extended period of time the wood (cherry) that I'm using has been kiln dried and seasoned to these weather conditions for many weeks. I'm allowing about 1/32" clearance around the drawers and doors assuming that this would be as thick as the wood would become. Do you think that this is a sound assumption...?

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I’m no expert on federal style but 1/32” seems tight to me, some where on here is info on how much expansion you can expect over a given dimension, I’m assuming the grain will run horizontally so top to bottom will be your biggest concern not side to side, others a lot smarter than me will chime in I’m sure, of course pictures of the build would be nice

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I usually allow 1/4” on all four sides for mistakes, not expansion. Just kidding. I think your allowable should be determined by the height of the drawers and width of the doors. 

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I would normally use veneered drawer fronts for a piece like this for the very reason you're asking about. If the drawers are solid wood the gaps would/should be set relative to the widest piece, which in this case would most likely be the door. It will move more than the narrower drawers, so since you'll want uniformity all around, its width (and corresponding expansion and contraction) should be what you work off of. 

If you don't have a copy, I would strongly recommend R. Bruce Hoadly's Understanding Wood. There are charts for determining movement characteristics based on width, location, seasonal humidity, wood species and method of cutting (e.g. flat sawn, rift or quartered). 

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If I understand, what your asking is if the drawers and carcass have swollen as much as they are ever going to do in view of how long it's been very humid in your area.  If so then you wouldn't want to make the gap any larger, since it will get wider as dryer weather returns.

My guess is that you're good, but like Curlyoak says you're not going know till you've watched it go through a weather cycle in the house.  

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In response to Mick's response, "I would normally use veneered drawer fronts for a piece like this for the very reason you're asking about". The doors are veneered and the substrate is plywood. The only wood is the bead molding around the door. The drawer fronts are veneered but the substrate is poplar. I did this because I couldn't dovetail plywood or MDF. I appreciate the suggestion about the book; it will be on my purchase list. 

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