Cypress for drawers?

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I bought some cypress boards this morning to use for drawer sides and backs in a dresser I am making. It is nominally 5/8 thick so it shouldn't be too hard to plane down to the 1/2 thickness I want. Any comments on this? Think it will work? Any tips?

The nightstands in the same bedroom have softwood scraps I planed down to 1/2. Some have nail holes and most have at least 1 knot. So the fact that this cypress isn't clear doesn't bother me for this application.

Joints will be router template half blind dovetails.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I checked a couple boards. I measured 17-18%. Not bad for construction lumber but a bit high for furniture. I've used planned down shelving boards before, however, and they would be similar.
 

Oka

Casey
Corporate Member
12-13% max. for anything cabinet level my Ambient is 11.7% here it can get as high as 13.5 ish, but I am in Hawaii. Figure your ambient where you are 1st then go from there. 17% way too high
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
The base of my dining room table is construction lumber that I measured at a little under 20% (2x4s, used for straight pieces) and a little over 20% (2x12 used for curved pieces). I made it in January and it is working fine for me. I prefer under 10% but I know from experience that ~20% material can work. It will shrink more as it dries but it is possible to allow for this were it matters. When I say it is working fine in the dining room table base I mean the joints are not opening up, nothing is warping, etc.. Behaving just like hardwood at lower moisture content.
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
Cypress has a nasty tendency to twist as it dries-buts flexible enough to bend without breaking. It’s what I used for some trim and my covered porch floor.
 

Cuthriell

Cuthriell
User
I bought some cypress boards this morning to use for drawer sides and backs in a dresser I am making. It is nominally 5/8 thick so it shouldn't be too hard to plane down to the 1/2 thickness I want. Any comments on this? Think it will work? Any tips?

The nightstands in the same bedroom have softwood scraps I planed down to 1/2. Some have nail holes and most have at least 1 knot. So the fact that this cypress isn't clear doesn't bother me for this application.

Joints will be router template half blind dovetails.
I use cypress for drawer bottoms. It works easily and has a slight pleasant fragrance.
 

red

Papa Red
Red
Senior User
You'll be fine. Just get it as dry as you can before assembly.

Red
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Thanks guys. I'm still working on the cabinet and don't expect to get to the drawers before the end of the week at best. It is supposed to rain here all week so I got the wood last Friday before it starts raining. Cherry for the cabinet is all milled up and the basic structure is glued together. Lots left to do but the structure was a bit complicated so I am happy to have it together. Fitting wooden blocking for the drawers to slide on currently. I am making a highly modified version of the Woodsmith cherry chest (mine will have 10 drawers, theirs has 4, I also modified many joints to mortise and tenon).
 

Rwe2156

DrBob
Senior User
Yes, definitely needs to be drier. You could rough cut, sticker, wrap with tape and bring it in the house for a week or so. I'm sure you know this, but if you're building this in a non-climate controlled shop, make the drawers a bit tight, after a month in the house they'll be just right.

I don't really like cypress for drawers b/c it tends to be coarse grained, brittle when dry and not the easiest to do dovetails a challenge even with my 20° chisels.

That said, there are different types of cypress, the stuff we get around here is commonly called "pond cypress" what doesn't go to the mulch plant my sawyer gets 99% of it is used for siding. Many antiques built in the south used cypress for secondary wood, but that cypress is not what we have today.

If you want minimal problems with the drawers, I would go with kiln dried poplar or soft maple.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Sorry, I think I used my Klein moisture meter wrong when I measured 18% on the cypress. When you start it it is in concrete mode. If I then measure wood with it I get about 20%. But when I switch it to hardwood mode, I get about 5%. So I put it in the right mode and remeasured the cypress. It was up high in my wood rack which isn't an ideal orientation for using the meter but I think it is more like 5 or 6%. That is also where I measured the cherry I just got and some that has been in my shop for a year or more. I would expect it to go higher in the summer here in humid South Carolina.

I still plan to measure the cypress again when I pull it down but the boards are 16 feet long and my shop is small so I need to clear out some space first. I think it is OK. I would try it even if it is nearly 20% but I agree it is better to have it down under 10%.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Well I finished the dresser with 10 drawers that have cypress sides and backs. The wood consistently measured 10% or less moisture (when I had the meter set right). The drawers are 6 1/8 to 8 3/4 tall (they increase 7/8 inch each level going down). I had to glue up the stock I used before planning them to thickness. The only thing I found a bit surprising is the flexibility. Thin offcuts bent a lot before snapping. Planning, sanding, and cutting with a router bit to form the dovetails all went well. I would use it again. I think it worked better then the generic softwood I've used before.

The drawer fronts and the carcase are cherry. I don't have knobs on yet but they are ordered and will go on next week.
 

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