A Little Geometry for Laying Out a Drawer Pull

You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.

— Theodore Geisel ("Dr Seuss"), on becoming a writer, NY Times 21 May 86. I feel the same way about math and engineering.

Figure 1: Common Drawer Pull.Figure 1: Common Drawer Pull.Figure 1: Common Drawer Pull.

Figure 1: Common Drawer Pull.

I finished building a cabinet a couple of months ago just as the extreme cold arrived, which made my garage shop uninhabitable.. The ten-day forecast is now showing rising temperatures, so I am starting to think about my next cabinet construction effort.

One task I never like doing is putting on the drawer pulls (e.g. Figure 1). I always worry that I could be making a simple arithmetic measurement error that will result in a ruined drawer − yes, I have made this kind of error . While reading Fine Woodworking magazine (membership required), I just saw a simple layout method that I think is simple enough that I won't need to be quite so worried going forward. Woodworkers often prefer to use geometric constructions rather than measurements and arithmetic because it is too easy to make errors. For example, my most common measurement error occurs when I "burn an inch" − which means measuring from the 1 inch mark instead of from the less precisely defined end − and then I forget to subtract an inch from my measurement.

Figure 2 is a sketch I made of how the layout is drawn. You draw four lines whose endpoints are marked using the gray-shaded drawer pull locations. The intersections of the lines mark the points where I will mount the drawer pull.

Figure 2: Drawer Pull Layout Construction.

Figure 2: Drawer Pull Layout Construction.

While this method is focused on a single, centered drawer pull, I am starting to think about generalizations for other pull configurations. As I come up with them, I will record them here.


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2 Responses to A Little Geometry for Laying Out a Drawer Pull

  1. CC says:

    The "less precisely defined end"? Are you talking about the little bit of play in the hook on the end of a retractable measuring tape?

    • mathscinotes says:

      Yup ... that end is called the hook. I have had some issues with the hook being bent or not sliding like it should. The hook is supposed to be loose and to move just enough so that it compensates for the hook thickness when used in for either inside (butt) or outside (hook) measurements. When doing some precise layout work, any error in that movement or the hook being bent can cause an error that will show. For cabinet work, I "burn" an inch. However, I have forgotten to add the inch onto my measurement and I cut a board too short.

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