Arts and Crafts Dresser #7: Drawers Started

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Blog entry by BlueRidgeDog posted 02-24-2019 04:54 PM 786 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Top and waiting Part 7 of Arts and Crafts Dresser series Part 8: First row of drawers fitted. Selecting hardware - opinions? »

Hit the slow part and I have been out of Town for a week. so getting back to work.

I wanted to continue using Ash for the drawers as the interior parts are Ash, but when I went to the lumber yard they did not have any 5/4 Ash that was at least 7 1/2” wide (5/4 as I wanted 1/2” drawer sides/back and it is far cheaper to resaw 5/4 than to send most of a 4/4 up the dust collection system).

So I bought some Maple. Gotta say, this stuff is slick, easy to work and just the right balance of hard/workable.

I resawed all the parts and milled them to just shy of 1/2” and grouped them for processing. Each was ripped to the dimensions of the opening, then hand planed to fit.

Since the top three drawers are a size unto themselves, I stared with them.

The rear through dovetails came out fine.

The fronts thus far are spot on, but I am still working on them. I made a goof (have to re-make one back!!!) so it was officially time to stop for the day. I also go slow on drawers. They are the part that gets the user interaction and they have to be 100%, both in form and function, so if I am not in the zone I pull back and do some finish work etc. I don’t know if others work that way, but If I am forcing it, I stop.

I won’t cover my dovetail method in great detail, but it is a hybrid approach. For me the key to a perfect joint is square faced tails, so I cut them at the bandsaw with a very simple angle jig. I also cut a rebate on the back side of the half blind tails so registration on the face board is perfect and I have less to cut out. Finally, I use a router to clear the majority of the half blind pin socket out so that I can focus my handwork on the sides and fit. I can share example images of each of these step if anyone is interested.

I have cut them by hand from start to finish in the past, but this hybrid method is much more reliable, repeatable and accurate. I love hand work, but spending your focus on the 10% of the pin socket that matters vs the 90% that doesn’t makes life good. As Frank Klausz says “If my grandfather had had a router, he would have used it”.

6 comments so far

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4220 days

#1 posted 02-24-2019 06:00 PM

Looks like a very nice build. I agree with your comments on the maple. I had a similar experience when I made my marquetry saw from it. It was wonderful to work with in every way. Of course we are all curious about your dovetail method now that you have mentioned it, and it would be nice if you were willing to share it with us. Maybe a separate blog when you have time?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View EarlS's profile


4015 posts in 3234 days

#2 posted 02-25-2019 12:33 PM

“so if I am not in the zone I pull back and do some finish work etc. I don’t know if others work that way, but If I am forcing it, I stop.”

There are days when I walk out to the shop and start working and realize that I need to go do something else because I’m not “in the zone”. It is easier to do that than to mess something up and have to re-work it (that happens too often as well).

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Jeremymcon's profile


416 posts in 1566 days

#3 posted 03-04-2019 01:09 PM

Nice straight grained soft maple is definitely a dream to work! I have a cherry dresser planned in the future, and I will definitely be using maple for the drawer parts.

What are you doing for slides? My wife has given me dimensions she’d like me to build the dresser to, but I’m finding them a little awkward to fit drawers – 40” top length ends up with a full length drawer around 36 1/4”. Seems very long for a single drawer, but divided in half they seem too short! Can wooden guides work in a 36” drawer, I wonder?

View BlueRidgeDog's profile


714 posts in 665 days

#4 posted 03-04-2019 01:55 PM

What are you doing for slides? ...Can wooden guides work in a 36” drawer, I wonder?

- Jeremymcon

I have an obsession about drawers and furniture. No slides. Slides are for cabinets where you don’t want to take the time to fit the drawer and don’t want to build in drawer supports. For a furniture item, I prefer to build in drawer runners and drawer supports (combined “Drawer Webs”), and then fit the drawer to the opening. A solid fit, with waxed surfaces will run smooth.

That said, if you want slides, I would suggest just a wooden side rail and a dado in the drawer. I have thought of doing that on some larger drawers, but for now I still fit them one at a time.

Don’t get me wrong…I use full extension 100lb runners frequently in casework that needs to be fast and cheap. If it has any plywood in it, it will probably get slides. This unit has 9 drawers and slides would eat up 9” of drawers space and they would be the item that stoped working in 50 years.

View Jeremymcon's profile


416 posts in 1566 days

#5 posted 03-04-2019 03:20 PM

Right! I meant “guides” I guess. I really just wanted to do traditional wooden “guides” like I’ve done for all the other drawers I’ve made, but I was concerned about the 36” width of the drawers – all the other wooden slide drawers in my house are at least 6” shorter.

I’m also not completely certain how to keep the drawers running true side to side in a frame and panel case – in my design, the inside of the panel won’t be flush with the sides of the drawers. So I guess I’ll end up gluing some side guides to the web frame, right? Don’t really want to attach them to the panel since I’ll have to deal with a cross grain situation. Attaching the side guides to the web frame seems simpler and easier.

View BlueRidgeDog's profile


714 posts in 665 days

#6 posted 03-04-2019 03:51 PM

If you go to Kevin Rodel’s website you can see an example where he uses very wide drawers on a dresser and uses a wooden rail simply affixed to the side of the case.

I like how he puts a large pin in the drawer to intersect with the slot for the rail. If I ever have to do a rail, this is the method I would use. Really clean, and you still get a traditional drawer face.

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