shaker chest of drawers

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Project by jdh122 posted 04-26-2013 01:32 PM 1913 views 6 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Plans for this are from Fine Woodworking 206, by Christian Becksvoort, although I changed the size and proportions a bit to fit wood that I had. The construction is half-blind dovetails for the top (with another top screwed onto it) and for the drawers (with regular dovetails in the back, of course), sliding dovetails for the bottom, and the interior structure fits into grooves and is all put together with mortises and tenons. I’m improving on my handcut dovetails, not that they’re getting any prettier, but I’m much better at cutting on the line so that there is no adjusting needed with files, rasps and chisels.

This is finished with soap flakes, my first time. It’s really a beautiful finish and very easy to apply (although sanding it after to lower the raised grain made me sneeze over and over). I’ll have to wait and see how it stands up. If you’re in Canada and looking for a source, I used and got what’s probably a lifetime supply for less than $20 including shipping (

The main wood is birch, sourced locally from a “guy with a bandsaw mill”. I had a 10-inch wide board with a lot of figure that I’ve been saving for something special, and used it here on the front of the drawers. I cut the drawers so that the grain runs across the piece, although it worked better on the bottom than on the top drawers.

The secondary wood is like a United Nations of recovered and recycled wood. Some kind of mysterious wood from a cheap chest of drawers that I dumpster-dived last year (smells vaguely cedar-y, but also kind of smoky when cut or scraped) for the large top and bottom (with a birch edge added by me). The interior runners are made from some red oak my brother rescued over 20 years ago from a high school library that was being remodeled and that my parents had held onto, some strange green wood (probably poplar?) from a pallet. The drawers are all recycled wood except the fronts – pieces from the same chest I recycled, pieces of garbage-saved hardwood floor, some pine from ugly shutters that were in my house when I bought it. The drawer bottoms are southern yellow pine from a pallet.

You’ll notice that it has no back yet. The belt on my Rikon bandsaw died and I’m waiting for the replacement that I ordered to arrive so that I can resaw some 2-inch douglas fir salvaged from the roof of a hockey arena.

I don’t have a lathe – I cheated and bought the drawer pulls.

Thanks for looking.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

6 comments so far

View JoeRPhilly's profile


176 posts in 2958 days

#1 posted 04-26-2013 02:22 PM

very nice job, love how you used whatever you had available and it came out looking great, enjoy!

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3673 days

#2 posted 04-26-2013 04:13 PM

This is very clean. It looks like you did a nice job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View bonobo's profile


304 posts in 2863 days

#3 posted 04-26-2013 06:23 PM

Looks great. Has a clean, modern feel.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

View gsimon's profile


1318 posts in 2919 days

#4 posted 04-27-2013 08:10 PM

very nice and way to go on the re-purposed wood
This is a great example on how to use it in a permanent way and will stand the test of time
i always imagine some antique dealer a hundred years from now trying to wrap their head around so many woods and sources ha ha

-- Greg Simon

View jdh122's profile


1167 posts in 3624 days

#5 posted 04-28-2013 10:51 PM

Thanks for the comments. gsimon, I also wonder what kind of story a future person will make up to account for such an odd mix of woods.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16808 posts in 3425 days

#6 posted 04-28-2013 10:54 PM

I love the story that includes so many different kinds of wood, and from different sources. Holding onto things is tough sometimes, but projects like this one make it worthwhile. Well done, looks great, congrats!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

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