Anyone who has built their own shop has sunk time into making drawers for a worktable. Andrew Klein has invented a sawblade profile that turns making drawers into simple origami.
There are many traditional ways to build a drawer, but they all at minimum involve cutting four sides and a bottom and jigging to ensure squareness. Better drawers involve mitered cuts, dado cuts, finger joints, and generally just a lot of work for something small and simple. For a couple drawers it’s a manageable amount of work, but if you want your cabinets to give you access to tools and materials without having to dig through a bin, you need many shallow drawers. It’s no less work to build a shallow drawer than a deep one, so this can easily consume a whole weekend.
Klein has created a better way. As he shows with a simple paper sample, if you remove a special cross section, you can cut your drawer out of a single sheet of plywood and just fold it up when you’re done. The secret is having an ingenious, custom, bungalow-shaped blade profile. Following through on his idea, Klein ordered a shop to fabricate the profile into a prototype blade. His paper concept succeeded. Four cuts on a tablesaw and the drawer folds right into place with nice 90° corners and plenty of glue surface area.
How well does it hold up? Klein rigged up his own testing methodology too. First he hung the drawer on rods, filled it far beyond capacity with a 100-pound pile of steel weights and bolted a drill with an off-center weight to the side. He let this over-sized rumble pack run for an hour to simulate shock and vibration; the drawer held. Test number two was to clamp the drawer to a table and to put his full body weight (200lbs) onto one edge; the drawer again held. It’s not invincible, Klein did manage to break it with a couple purposeful stomps. Unless moonlighting in karate championships, it should hold up indefinitely as an actual drawer.
Demonstrating that just because you’re clever and persistent doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes, Klein admits he goofed on the profile he ordered. When the prototype blade cuts, it leaves a small gap along one section which results in some of the wood not touching when folded up. It’s a fixable mistake he plans to correct on the next version.
It’s exactly the kind of special-purpose tool that would be great for tool libraries and Makerspaces. Almost every shop everywhere could use one, but would probably only need it for a day.
Most of you will be thinking “Kickstarter!” but for now, Klein is taking a more direct route to store shelves and asking for people to connect him to businesses willing to sell or license his design.