Drawer Dresser

A master craftsman's method for making perfectly space m0 i w ยง

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I MADE THIS DRESSER for a client whose father designed and built similar furniture back in the 1950s. Its grid system is very modern looking, but getting all the spacing just right requires an old-fashioned, methodical approach to ensure that the case is square each step of the way. I also used the

This dresser uses web frame construction, which has gone out of favor in factory-made furniture.That's too bad, because web frames do a bang-up job of making casework absolutely rock solid.The finish is as retro as the construction-it's a white stain with a clear water-based polyurethane topcoat.The funky drawer pulls add the perfect final touch.

Construction notes

I determined the heights of the drawers based on the spacing of my dovetail jig, which is 7/8" on center. My dimensions leave a half-pin at the top of each drawer. My jig's spacing is fairly standard, but before you build, check your jig's spacing and adjust the drawers' heights and cabinet's height if necessary.

When you cut the dadoes and rabbets in the case's ends (B1) and dividers (B2), note that the critical dimension isn't their depth, but what's left over. When you cut into the sides, for example, the remaining wood should be 1/2" thick.This method ensures that all the other dimensions will work out, regardless of the precise thickness of your plywood.

I made each row of drawer faces from one long, full-width board.This avoids mismatched figure and an annoying banded look that results when narrow boards are edge-glued together. However, if you goof up one drawer front, you have to remake all three in that row.

Build the case

same clever system for positioning the drawers that my client's dad used, and it worked extremely well. Part of the difficulty in spacing the drawers is that their fronts aren't applied-they're an integral part of the drawer box. When installing a drawer with an applied front, you just position the front with shims until the margins are even, then screw it to the drawer box.This dresser is different-you have to position the entire drawer. Here's how the system works:These drawers are guided by tracks that run underneath the drawer's bottoms. When building the dresser, leave the tracks loose in the web frames inside the case. Next, build the drawers, slide them in the case, and adjust each track's position until the drawer is perfectly centered side to side. Once that's done, lock the tracks in place with glue blocks.

1. Cut the web frame parts (A1 - A5). Machine the drawer tracks (A6) (See Fig. B). Cut biscuit grooves for joining the web frame stiles and rails.

2. Rout the drawer track grooves in the web frame stiles (Figs. A and C).There are many different parts to deal with, so label them and set them in stacks for the right, middle and left sections of the drawer case.

3. Glue and clamp the web frames together. Do not glue the drawer tracks in their grooves (Photo 1).

4. Lay out and cut grooves in the top and bottom web frames to receive the dividers (B2, Photo 2).

5. Cut the case ends (B1) and dividers to size. Cut dadoes in the ends and dividers (See Fig. C).The dadoes should be cut to a depth that leaves 1/2" of plywood on the sides and 3/8" on the dividers.

6. Cut the rabbets on the top of the case sides so 1/2" of plywood remains.

7. Rout the rabbets for the back (B8) on the sides.

8. Glue and clamp the middle section web frames and dividers. Make sure the assembly is square (Photo 3).

9. Drill and countersink the screw holes in the top web frame for attaching the dresser top.

10. Glue and clamp the top and bottom web frames to the case's middle section (Photo 4).

11. Glue the end web frames and case sides to the partially assembled inner case (Photo 5).This is a lot of gluing and clamping for one person. Either get some help or do it in

Build the upper and lower web frames, which run the full length of the case. Glue the rails, but don't glue the drawer tracks. You'll adjust their positions later when fitting the drawers.

Rout grooves in the rails for the plywood vertical dividers. Guide the cut using a shop-made template. Size the slot so the plywood fits tight in the grooves.

Build the upper and lower web frames, which run the full length of the case. Glue the rails, but don't glue the drawer tracks. You'll adjust their positions later when fitting the drawers.

Rout grooves in the rails for the plywood vertical dividers. Guide the cut using a shop-made template. Size the slot so the plywood fits tight in the grooves.

Build out from the middle section, starting with the top and bottom web frames. For assemblies like this, I work on sawhorses and use long, straight support boards and large squaring blocks.

Glue short web frames to the vertical dividers, making the middle section of the dresser. Position the web frames upright so the assembly is easier to clamp. Use L-shaped squaring blocks to ensure that everything stays square.

Build out from the middle section, starting with the top and bottom web frames. For assemblies like this, I work on sawhorses and use long, straight support boards and large squaring blocks.

Stand the assembly on end to add the remaining web frames and end panels. I prevent glue from dripping on the floor by placing a sheet of cardboard under the assembly.

Glue^dging onto the front of the cabinet.The edging is mitered at the corners, down at the base. Draw the miters tight with long clamps.
Use an orbital sander to sand the cabinet's ends. An orbital sander is not as aggressive as a random orbit sander and gives a better final finish.

Build from the center out to make the drawer openings perfectly square.

stages by gluing a few joints at a time. Dry fit some of the parts; use them to align the pieces you glue.

12. Cut the bottom (B3) and glue and screw it to the underside of the bottom web frame. Make sure its front edge is flush with the front edge of the web frame.

Apply the edgings

13. Cut the bottom edging (B4) and end edging pieces (B5) to size. Bout a 3/8" radius roundover on the inside edges of these pieces. Miter and glue the bottom edging to the front edge of the plywood, leaving all of the web frame edge exposed (Photo 6). Miter and attach the side edging. Keep the outside edges flush to the faces of the plywood. Rout a roundover on the outside edges of the edging.

14. Cut the top edging piece (B6) to size and fit it between the end edging pieces. Glue it in place.

15.Cut the divider edging pieces (B7) to size and fit them between the top and bottom edging pieces. Glue them in place so there's an equal overhang on each side of the plywood dividers.

16. Cut the back (B8) to size and screw it in place.

17. Finish sand the case's ends (Photo 7).

Build the base

18. Cut the base parts (CI -C4) to size. Cut biscuit grooves in the cross braces and front and back pieces. Miter the ends of the base sides and ends.

19. Glue and clamp the base together. Drill screw holes in the cleats for attaching the base to the case. Glue the cleats to the base.

20. Screw the base to the case. Set the front of the base 3" back from the front of the case's bottom edging (Fig. E).

Build the drawers

21. Here are a couple of tips for dimensioning the drawer parts: First, the lengths of the drawer sides in the cutting list includes 5/8" total for their tails. If your jig cuts a different length tail, make any necessary adjustments to the sides' lengths. Second, I add 1 /16" to the finished length of my drawer face and back, then cut the dovetail sockets an extra 1/32" deeper so the ends of the front and back protrude 1/32". After assembly, I sand the overhang flush.

22. Cut the drawer parts (D1 - D10) to size. Measure the height of all the drawer openings, then cut the drawer sides 1/16" narrower.

23. Rout the half-blind dovetails in the drawer parts. Note: On the three lower drawers, the bottom edge of each drawer's face hangs 11/16" below the drawer's side (Fig. A).This distance is 3/4" on all other drawers. Because of this offset, there is no dovetail socket at the lower end of the drawer faces. Half-blind dovetail jigs are not designed to allow for this blank space, but there is an easy way to create it. Rout the lower tail of each drawer side using a sacrificial backer board rather than

biscuit screw

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