African Mahogany Dresser

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Project by Rickterscale posted 02-10-2012 06:14 PM 5733 views 6 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the dresser from a bedroom set I started about 6 years ago and just finished in January. The design and plan comes a series of articles published in Popular Mechanics a number of years back (100th Anniversary Series). Sides and top were African Mahogany plywood, the rest is AM hardwood. At the time I built this, I only had enough plywood for the dresser and one nightstand. Then I did the bed (which I’ll post shortly). Late last year I decided it was time to build the second night stand, and removed the plywood tops from the dresser and one finished nightstand to make the second. (One of the pics shows the dresser with the original AM plywood top, which I posted because it really shows off the drawer faces). That way they are all built from the same materials. I then made new veneered tops for all three pieces to match the veneered panels in the bed. Veneer on the dresser and nightstand tops is pomelle isipo (I think that’s what it was called), which looks a lot like the pomelle sapele in the bed.

I had some problems veneering the dresser top . It’s bigger than most pieces I’ve veneered. Using cauls and clamps (don’t have a veneer press), I had a few spots that didn’t get enough pressure and consequently rippled and bubbled up afterwards. Fortunately, the ripples came out with some aggressive sanding, and I was able to fix the bubbles by injecting glue under the bubbles and reclamping. (The silver lining of having a child with diabetes is that I had tons of 32 gauge needles on hand. Perfect for injecting glue under veneer bubbles without having to cut the veneer). I also used a resin glue, which was a nightmare because it bled through like crazy. Fortunately, the veneer is so heavily figured that you don’t notice the bleed-through after the finish is applied.

The drawer faces are my favorite part of the dresser. They all come from the same 10-12” wide, 14’ long board. The grain pattern in this wood is beautiful, and I love how the grain moves as you walk past it. The veneer is somewhat porous, so I filled it with shellac (brush on a few coats, sand down to bare wood, repeat about 5 times until the grain is filled with shellac). I experimented with a bunch of different grain filling methods, but found that shellac worked the best for really popping the grain.

The joinery on the dresser is all biscuits. This was one of my first woodworking projects, and I certainly wouldn’t use only biscuits alone for joinery again, but it is shockingly strong. For example, the drawer dividers are plywood (with strips of AM laminated on to the edge) and are joined to the sides of the dresser with biscuits. Just butt joints with biscuits. When I moved a few years ago, a friend was helping load everything into the moving truck. With the drawers pulled out and set aside, the friend (approx. 6’4” and 270 lb) was using the drawer dividers as a ladder as he loaded heavy boxes further back into the truck. I freaked out when I saw how he was using the dresser, but not one joint failed. Go figure.

2 comments so far

View Deaser's profile


54 posts in 3471 days

#1 posted 02-10-2012 06:21 PM

Well done! I agree with you…the drawer faces are my favorite too.

-- Steve, Pennsylvania

View bobthebuilderinmichigan's profile


130 posts in 4085 days

#2 posted 02-10-2012 07:47 PM

Yes, very well done. I love the look of mahogany. You obviously spent a great deal of time on this and it has paid off.

-- Bobthebuilderinmichigan

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