New baby dresser

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Project by endgrainy posted 08-15-2014 10:33 PM 2136 views 4 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Finished just in time for the new baby! This project took the most time (by far) of any project I’ve attempted. I’ve lost track, but it was 200 hours plus. It’s also the first project I’ve built where I didn’t use plans.

My wife had her heart set on a Pottery Barn dresser, but I wanted to do something special for the baby’s room. I designed the dresser utilizing Sketchup and pictures of the concept dresser from online. It wast the first large project I’ve done from the ground up. Since I’ve never built a dresser, I reviewed dozens of dresser plan to get the general concept of design and construction down.

I planned on using cherry, walnut, or possibly an exotic species – but my wife’s condition on me making the dresser was that it matched the room. Thus the white paint (oh, the humanity!.) As such, I chose baltic birch ply for the case, back and top. I used poplar for the trim, drawer boxes, drawer fronts, and bottom details.

I first made the case with dado and rabbet joints, but I didn’t like the stability. So I remade it with handcut through dovetails. It felt somewhat liberating to cut willy-nilly with strength being the only consideration – as the joints are hidden by the trim. That freedom to cut really helped my dovetail technique overall.

The bottom “feet” were cut on the bandsaw, the trim was applied via glue and a pin nailer (my first pneumatic tool!) The trim profiles were cut at the router table.

The interior structure is poplar. I went back and forth several times on the best way to create drawer slides. I bought metal, but didn’t like the aesthetic. I then tried to design some wood mechanism myself, which didn’t work very well. Since most of the case was built by this time, I settled on wooden center mount slides from Rockler – which worked great. I added some hardwood drawer runners.

The drawers themselves are poplar, hand-dovetailed, with plywood bottoms. I finished the drawers with shellac. It was my first time using HVLP (Earlex 5500) – wow, what a timesaver! And reasonable results after just a little practice.

I sprayed the drawer fronts and case with General Finishes Milk Paint (Snow White.) I then sprayed several coats of General Finishes high performance water based top coat. If I had to do it again, I might choose tinted lacquer – but was scared of lacquer using HVLP for the first time.

Finally, it is assembled. My wife bought some drawer pulls from an individual glass craftsman. Expensive, but I figured it was good to support a person like myself who was trying to create something.

In any event – it’s complete! Thanks for viewing, comments/criticism appreciated.

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

6 comments so far

View jeffswildwood's profile


4452 posts in 2758 days

#1 posted 08-16-2014 12:09 PM

Very nice work. Should last for many years.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View Tooch's profile


2013 posts in 2657 days

#2 posted 08-16-2014 12:20 PM

That’s really sweet! Great to hear you learned so much on this project…. hand cut dovetails, HVLP sprayer, first air gun, etc. Always great to try and tackle new methods of work.

It truly is a beautiful piece, with great intentions behind the build. Both you and the baby will enjoy it for years to come.

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View endgrainy's profile


251 posts in 2669 days

#3 posted 08-16-2014 09:42 PM

Thanks for the comments guys! I follow the advice of buy a new tool when a project requires it – this project was so involved that it required a few new tools. I’m a big fan of spray finishing now, eager to try it again.

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

View BBrown626's profile


37 posts in 2742 days

#4 posted 08-16-2014 11:41 PM

Looks pretty nice. I made dressers for each of my two sons and recently for my granddaughter. Great learning projects. My granddaughter’s is white lacquer on poplar and looks very much like yours. It even has the girly glass pulls :-)

Master that sprayer. You can use it for a variety of finishes. Spraying dyes, lacquer, toner, etc.

Well done!

View Mike's profile


408 posts in 3468 days

#5 posted 08-24-2014 04:43 PM

very nice

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - -

View joshuam39's profile


62 posts in 2162 days

#6 posted 08-25-2014 03:36 AM

Nice work. I saw your kitchen stools, too. They are awesome.

-- Let's go Pens!

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