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Project Information

Around the beginning of summer 2020 my wife (Gina the Gorgeous) said "We don't have anywhere to display the family china." This came as something of a surprise to me because I didn't even know we had any family china, but when I pointed this out to Gina she said that I'd made her point (D'oh!).

Gina told me that she'd found an 1820 Welsh dresser that would be perfect. The only problems were that (a) it was in Wales and (b) I couldn't afford it. But when I explained this to Gina she unexpectedly turned into a problem solver saying, "Well, in that case, you can build one for me." (I fear she had been fooled into thinking I had a clue because I have an electric drill in the garage.)

But "it's not what you know-it's who you know" as the old saying goes, and I know a master craftsman I call Carpenter Bob. When I discussed this with Bob, he said I could use his workshop at the weekends. Even better, since he's there 7 days of the week, he said he would walk me through the process.

So, it's been six months of weekends. I haven't done serious woodwork since I was 12 at high school more than 50 years ago, but Bob took me step by step. We started with the knobs for the drawers and doors. First, we selected the pattern we liked. Then Bob turned one out of a piece of scrap poplar showing me how it was done. Next, I turned one out of popular with Bob offering helpful advice like "it works better if you use the sharp end of the chisel". Then Bob left me to turn numerous test pieces until he was satisfied with my work (which typically coincided with my no longer being able to feel my fingers)-then we moved on to walnut (the main dresser is oak, but the knobs and turnings are walnut, and the sides and backs of the drawers are poplar).



We did the same thing with the blind dovetail joints for the drawers; also, the blind mortise and tenon joints that hold the sides of the shelves to the "feet" for the upper part of the cabinet.

Just for giggles and grins, Bob wouldn't let me use modern tools like routers (he did let me use the band saw, and he used the main table saw)-instead, he made me use his collection of antique hand tools like lathes and cut the jounts using a saw and chisel-also he made me try different variations, like western versus Japanese saws and different types of mallets and suchlike.

One thing I'm glad Bob didn't make me do is the staining and finishing. After all this work, he thought it would be better to hand over to the professionals at a company called Woodpride here in Huntsville. I visited them several times while this was in progress-I had no idea of the number of steps that were involved, but the result surpassed my expectations.



The final piece (6 feet wide and 8 feet tall) was delivered to our house a couple of days before Christmas while Gina was out running errands (I worked from home that day). By the time Gina returned, I had it covered with a giant drop cloth-she wasn't allowed to see it until Christmas Day morning.

This project ended up being a huge amount of work, but I believe that this dresser will be a family heirloom that will be passed down through the generations to come for hundreds of years.

This is my first posting to this site (an existing community member-Mike Burr-prompted me to join) so please be kind in your comments :)

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Comments

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6,869 Posts
Beautiful piece! Excellent result on a very large project.

Welcome to LJs!
 

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8 Posts
Thanks Steve-I must admit that I'm rather proud of this one-but I couldn't have done it without Carpenter Bob
 

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51 Posts
Most excellent work, M-T-M. Still glad to be the man behind the man next to the woman that's behind the man that knows M-T-M.

And again welcome to the splinters club.
 

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Thanks so much for introducing me to this club Mike-I'm already seeing ideas for things I might build next.
 

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11,319 Posts
Truly stunning and sure to become a cherished family heirloom.
 

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Thanks Burly Bob-I very much appreciate your kind words.
 

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In Loving Memory
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2,130 Posts
A masterpiece by a beginner! That is great MTM, but where is the kitten? Welcome to LUMBERJOCKS! But I see that you already belong in this nuthouse. Just keep showing us YOUR progress.
 

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5,283 Posts
Max, beautiful work and beautiful story!

I think Gina should return the favor and buy you a shop full of tools!

Truly great work.
 

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4,802 Posts
Great looking piece and the Daily Top Three Award is a deserved reward. Loved your comments.
 

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Thanks to you all for being so welcoming-if I ever win the lottery (which is currently my pension plan) I hope to build a workshop split into three parts divided by glass walls-electronics-metalwork-and woodwork-my dream would be to spend each day making things and learning more of the tricks of the trade. Also, I would buy Carpenter Bob one of those high-end table saws with the automatic stop if anyone touches the blade. That was one tool he wouldn't;t let me use, and I understood why when we almost had a nasty accident.
 

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476 Posts
Wow! Well, that's one way to start learning how to woodwork! Great job!

As we say on the mountain, go big or go home!
 

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8,109 Posts
Incredible work. Well done.
 

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Thank you so much WhatTheChuck and Swirt-I've been looking at both your projects-they make me realize how much I have to learn-thank goodness that learning is fun :)
 
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