How can I stabilize my dresser?

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Forum topic by king_nickizzle posted 04-14-2016 08:43 PM 2492 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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27 posts in 1448 days

04-14-2016 08:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wood dresser stable stabilize

I’m making a simple 6 drawer mid century modern dresser using 1/2” birch plywood. I used pocket holes to attach everything. I’m nearing the end and I’ve noticed it sways left and right very easily. It’s as if my rectangle design can be turned into a parallelogram by just lightly giving some force on one side. What can I do at this point to stabilize it?

I haven’t put a back on yet so that may help some, but I have a feeling that won’t totally solve it. Anyone have tips? I tried putting a l by 4 across the top inside, but that doesn’t really seem to do much.

10 replies so far

View DanK's profile


26 posts in 3204 days

#1 posted 04-14-2016 09:02 PM

Adding the back will stiffen things up quite a bit. You could add a horizontal brace between the drawers.

View king_nickizzle's profile


27 posts in 1448 days

#2 posted 04-14-2016 11:58 PM

Thanks DanK!

I’ve put a 2 by 4 on each side towards the bottom and that seemed to help. I will do one more towards the top on each side and also the back. I’m feeling more confident about this piece now!

View jumbojack's profile


1689 posts in 3161 days

#3 posted 04-15-2016 04:15 AM

Your improvements and a back will solid your dresser up nicely.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View DrDirt's profile


4592 posts in 4279 days

#4 posted 04-15-2016 03:56 PM

^^ Yep. think about even a sheet of cardboard. grab it by the edges and try to make that rectangle a parallelogram

for the ‘applied’ versus ‘set in a grove like a drawer bottom’

tack it at one edge, then square the case and tack the opposite edge, then finish fillin in with the rest of the nails/screws ?? to attach the back solidly.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View pintodeluxe's profile


5998 posts in 3350 days

#5 posted 04-15-2016 04:05 PM

I have been impressed with how simple dado joints stiffen up a case. I’m sure a back will make this project solid, but in the future consider using dados and glue. 3/4” sides will also add significantly to case rigidity.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View king_nickizzle's profile


27 posts in 1448 days

#6 posted 04-16-2016 12:21 PM

Thanks everyone! The back did indeed help tremendously! I do agree with using dados next time, I think that would save me a lot of headaches.

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 2833 days

#7 posted 04-16-2016 12:27 PM

I would have used 3/4 for the carcass.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30458 posts in 2874 days

#8 posted 04-16-2016 12:38 PM

A good back is essential.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View king_nickizzle's profile


27 posts in 1448 days

#9 posted 04-22-2016 01:07 PM

Thanks guys! I was contemplating 3/4”, but I was going for a very sleek look. But I think it’s worth the small sacrifice for next time in order to have a more structurally sound piece.

View Waldo88's profile


207 posts in 1833 days

#10 posted 04-22-2016 03:57 PM

Even using 1/2” ply, well done glued dadoes will be very stiff, but that is still secondary to the reinforcing the back adds.

Pocketholes just aren’t very strong, compared to glue there really is no comparison.

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