Small Side Chest Build - Boards to Finished Product

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Blog entry by RobD posted 12-25-2017 06:15 PM 1194 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here are some photos documenting a build of a small side chest I just completed for my oldest son.

It is based om the small end chest found in the Thos. Moser’s book – Measured Shop Drawings for American Furniture.

This project is a stepping stone piece in the grand plan to build dressers for my 2 sons. I was a bit intimidated about building this at first and made a boatload of mistakes. Hopefully these will not to be repeated when I build a 2nd one for my younger son starting in the new year. That being said, I regret not attempting it earlier. For me, it comes down to more doing and less reading and analyzing. So if you are on the fence on the more ambitious project, just head off to your shop and go for it!

I started this project in late September but stopped logging my shop time as I found the more I tracked, the more I rushed and made more mistakes.

Here are the photos…

Boards were selected for top and sides. Next time, I am not sure I would fuss as much about the grain flow from the side to the top since the moldings break up the flow.

Sides were crosscut, glued up and given a basic surface prep…

Tails were then cut in the case top…

Next, rabbets and dadoes were cut in the sides. The dadoes were cut with knife chisel and router plane. It took a bit longer than expected. Next time, I’ll try sawing out the side walls…

Then pins for the side boards…

Dry fitting the sides to the top…

Fitting the drawer dividers.. I will pay much more attention next time when cutting these.

Now the frames – I was worried about twist, but after watching Paul Sellers’s tutorial on mortise and tenon with the little jig to keep things square it made a big difference for me. Thanks Paul!

Next, on to the drawers. I experimented with the size and spacing on each and think by the time I got to the top drawer, I found what I will use next time. I also think next time I might do the grooving after the drawer parts are dry fit with the bottoms flush. This might avoid some small misalignment I encountered when later fitting the bottoms.

Grooves cut…



Parts laid out – including ship-lapped back. Some assembly required!

Drawers in case- fit was ok for a first time attempt…

Knobs and molding. I opted for a simple hand cut bevel to go with the flush mounted drawers.

A little sanding and then 6 coats of minwax wipe on poly. First time using this stuff and except for the fumes I really liked working with it…

That’s all – I hope you enjoyed. Since it will take me about 3 months to build the 2nd one, it will probably be some time before starting the dressers, but by then I think I will be ready!


5 comments so far

View cowboyup3371's profile


146 posts in 798 days

#1 posted 12-25-2017 06:24 PM

Very nice and I like your dovetails; one of these days I’ll try my hand at them. Did you handcut them or use the router?

-- Cowboy Up or Quit - If you are going to quit than get out of my way

View Jerry's profile


3309 posts in 2248 days

#2 posted 12-25-2017 07:04 PM

So nice to see all of these pictures and see all of your beautiful workmanship step by step. It’s really inspiring to see the care and time you’ve taken with your joinery. Thanks for shaing this journey!

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View RobD's profile


61 posts in 4195 days

#3 posted 12-25-2017 09:15 PM

Thanks – although all the joints are hand cut my craftsmanship has a long long long way to go. I share the pics because I hope you enjoy seeing other folks progress as much as I enjoy seeing yours. Merry Christmas!

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1248 days

#4 posted 12-26-2017 12:06 AM

Nice little side chest. Great hand tool work, Rob. Kudos!

View RobD's profile


61 posts in 4195 days

#5 posted 12-26-2017 12:46 AM

Thanks Ron.

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