The John Townsend four drawer block and shell features three conventional “blocked” drawers that are sawn from one piece of 2 5/8″ thick South American Mahogany. The top drawer is constructed differently in that the two applied convex shell and the carved in place concave shell produce the required “blocking” effect.

I was fortunate to get a single piece of 12/4″ SA Mahogany that would supply all the drawer fronts (plus one extra) from a single board, so more than 90% of this chest was constructed from three pieces of SA Mahogany, pretty cool.

Here are all the machined drawer fronts stacked on top of each other to show the consistent color and grain only available from being cut from one stick of lumber.

Next we trace the block front pattern on the top and bottom of the drawer fronts.

Next a marking gauge is used to mark out the critical flat section on the front and back of the drawer front, the most critical is the flat section that will the drawer sides will be half blind dovetailed to. 

Off to the tablesaw, where we create a shoulder cut next to the critical flat sections.

Next the “cheek” cuts on the front and rear of the drawer front are cut.

After both ends of the flat sections are cut, we temporarily attach a block of wide scrap wood to provide extra support for the drawer front during the bandsaw operation.

Completed drawer front.

Finally the back of the drawer front gets a similar treatment.

You will have to excuse me, I didn’t take any photos of the bandsawn drawer fronts being cleaned up. This process was tedious, it used rasps, cabinet files. planes and carving gouges to clean up the bandsawn surface. Here are the cleaned up drawer fronts installed (temporarily) the case. Notice that the top drawer is awaiting its “blocking” process, which will occur in the next step..