The importance of being square

I caught the underhill nail cabinet bug as I was finishing the workbench.  Plans are available here. This seemed like a great project, useful, attractive, and challenging. It looks like cabinetry, but is “shop furniture.” I made one change and decided to go with a mortise and tenon door frame with a raised panel.  The cabinet without drawers went together pretty easily.  Covering your carcase dovetails with battens is freeing.

There are, of course, several mistakes in this build. Some were simple, like when I put the bottom cleat on the top of the case.  To fix that, I got to test the reversibility of hide glue. Others were not so simple, I miscut the interior eggcrate and got to make two eggcrates. These were both mistakes of inattention, but I think the biggest mistake was not making absolutely, positively certain that everything was square.

While it looks pretty square in the picture above, the carcass isn’t. It’s twisted by about 1/8 of an inch, which created the largest challenges. Adding to the unsquareness, the first eggcrate I made was square, but the replacement was not.

img_5331This project has made me realize how important square is.  If a box is going to go in another box, then the outside box should be square. For example, since eggcrate opening aren’t square, the center drawers have to taper in width to fit the opening. They also have to taper from front to back in height. Sometimes  a lot. Like 3/8 inch a lot. 

While none of this is particularly hard to do, it adds 5-10 mins of fitting per drawer. Maybe more. And with 21 drawers, that’s an extra 2 to 3 hours of work. If I had spent the 15-20 mins to make sure all was square to begin with, I could have avoided that extra work.  So check square. And recheck square. And fix if you can.