Carving drawer pulls

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Words and photos: Robert Howard

The drawer pulls for the jewellery chest I have shown how to make were hand carved. I like carving these because I think it is one way to individualise my work, to sculpt something interesting and have some fun doing it.

I usually begin by drawing the handles in three views: from the front (front elevation), from one end (end elevation) and from the top (plan). It is very useful to practise using these views whenever you deal with objects so that you can manipulate them with ease. Carving (or machining, for that matter) this drawer pull reasonably efficiently depends on it. Which way you proceed will also depend on the direction the grain runs in the finished object (here it runs from side to side).


This is the way I made them. I machined a piece of the lace sheoak to the thickness I wanted, and to a width that would accommodate two pulls with enough left for a saw kerf between them. The length was enough for the 12 pulls I needed, plus some spares. (My pulls were 40mm wide x 15mm high x 15mm deep).


I drew the end elevation of the drawer pull on the end of my piece of wood, and planed the two long edges to the profile.


I made up a template and traced the plan of each drawer pull on the wood, with room to saw them apart. Using the appropriate carving gouges, I carved out the top shape of each pull. I carved these now only because it was easy to hold the wood to do it.


With the tablesaw, I roughed out the end profile between each pair of pulls and with a final cut separated the two sets. I then separated the individual pulls on the saw. If you wanted, you could get a better profile by mucking around with various router bits.


I found the easiest way to shape the semi-circular plan form of each pull was to use the disc sander, but I could also have done this using a sharp, flat chisel.


All that remained now was to carve out the bottom profile. To do this I first used a small gouge to smooth out the saw cuts and rough out the desired shape. The final shaping was easily done with a sharp knife. 

See Robert Howard's article on making the jewellery chest shown at the top here.

Robert Howard is a Brisbane based woodworker and a contributing editor to Australian Wood Review magazine.

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