The Bottom and Shelf
The box’s bottom and shelf are made out of 3/8″ thick stock. Cut out both of these parts from the same hardwood as the sides, so they’ll match. Bevel cut the front edge of the box bottom to 15°, so that it’ll match the slope of the sides. To keep small items from rolling off the back of the shelf and interfering with the tambour, the shelf’s back edge receives a raised cap strip with a cove cut into its upper, front facing edge. Cut the cove into the strip using a 3/8″ diameter core box bit in your router table, then glue it to the back edge of the shelf. The shelf also receives a small bead strip, to keep small items from rolling off its front edge. Cut the 5/16″ diameter half-round bead using an edge beading bit in the router table. Set this strip aside for now.
The shelf and bottom are secured to the sides using # biscuits (Figure 5). Set up the biscuit joiner to center the slots thickness-wise in the ends of the shelf and bottom. Cut the biscuit slots in the box sides so that the bottom and shelf will be positioned as shown in the Drawing.
Sand the parts smooth, leaving the edges of the ends crisp where they’ll join the sides. Also sand the inside faces of the sides, paying special attention to smoothing the inside surfaces of the routed track. Don’t round over the edges of the sides just yet.
The space formed by the sides, shelf and bottom of the box serve as a housing for the box’s drawer. The drawer is sized to fit snugly in this space, yet slide smoothly in and out of it. Cut out the parts for the drawer. You can use just about any wood for the drawer box parts, but for the drawer front and pull cap, use the same hardwood that matches the rest of the box. You can cut the drawer bottom either from solid stock or 1/4″ hardwood plywood (which is typically about 3/16″ thick).
Cut a 3/16″ wide, 3/16″ deep groove on the inside face of both sides and the drawer front, using either a table saw or a router table. Space the lower edge of the groove 1/4″ up from the bottom edge of each part. Cut or rout a 1/8″ wide, 5/32″ deep dado into the inside face of the two sides. Space these grooves 1/2″ from the back ends of the sides. Next, cut the joints on the ends of the drawer back. Using a 1/4″ straight bit in the router table, rout a rabbet to form a 1/8″ wide, 5/32″ long tenon on each end of the back.
To create clearance where the tambour attaches to the drawer, cut off the back lower corner of each side at a 45 degree angle. Then, using a sharp chisel, trim the small triangular piece above the miter cut flush with the depth of the drawer bottom groove as shown in Figure 6.
To shape the drawer pull strip, first use a 3/8″ diameter core box bit to take a 3/8″ deep cut into the lower edge of the strip (Figure 7). Set the table’s fence so that the cove is spaced 1/4″ back from the strip’s front edge. Trim the strip on the table saw, to form the 1/4″ thick section that will be glued atop the drawer. Use a 1/2″ radius roundover bit in the router table to shape the top edge of the pull, then set the strip aside.
To join the drawer sides to the drawer front, I hand cut half-blind dovetails with 5/16″ long tails and 5/16″ deep pins. Although there aren’t many dovetails, it takes a lot of fussing and patience to get tight, clean joints, so you may opt to join these parts using a simple rabbet joint instead. After sanding the inside surfaces of the drawer parts, do a quick dry assembly to make sure everything fits together correctly. Now glue up the basic drawer box, sliding the drawer bottom in place and tacking it to the lower edge of the back side. Check to make certain that the assembly is square before leaving it clamped up to dry for an hour or so. When the glue has dried rubbery hard (but not rock-hard), remove the squeezeout with a cabinet scraper or chisel.
After clamping up the dry assembled box, slip the drawer into its housing to check the fit. There should be about 1/32″ of side-to-side play between the drawer and the sides. If the fit is a little too snug, use a block plane to trim the sides slightly. Now set the drawer front flush with the edge of the sides and mark the sides’ curve on each end of the front. Use a hand plane to shave the drawer front until its curve matches the sides (Figure 8).
After sanding the front smooth, glue the pull strip to the top edge of the front. After the glue has dried, cut away the outer parts of the pull strip on the band saw (Figure 9). Use a spokeshave or cabinet scraper and sandpaper to fair in this curved cut with the drawer front, then finish sand the rest of the drawer. Round the top edge of the pull with a block plane and sandpaper, to increase the radius of its curve to about 3/4″ (which presents a more elegant look). Also, ease the bottom inside edge of the pull strip, to make it more “finger friendly.”