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Repairing 1950s Dresser Sag

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Forum topic by DerekJ posted 04-25-2019 03:28 AM 413 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DerekJ

111 posts in 1249 days


04-25-2019 03:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: dresser repair sag help tips and tricks question

Good evening! My wife picked up an old dresser that has a bit of a sag to it… the top and bottom both sag about 3/8” in the center.

The veneered top was destroyed by the previous owners, so I pulled it off and will be replacing with a solid top.

While i have the top off, I’d like to address the sag…. do any of you brilliant woodworkers have tips or tricks on how to/where to add bracing in the frame to correct the sag?

Thanks in advance,

Derek

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE


21 replies so far

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

436 posts in 541 days


#1 posted 04-25-2019 03:46 AM

Most dressers of that size need a support leg in the middle.

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DerekJ

111 posts in 1249 days


#2 posted 04-25-2019 03:57 AM

Yeah, I agree CW… I will add a support leg. Do you think just installing a new (flat) top, clamping the lower frame to the top, and the adding a left when everything is clamped flat would provide enough support?

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

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Rich

4407 posts in 951 days


#3 posted 04-25-2019 02:56 PM

You can probably get by without adding a leg. I assume it’ll have a back added. That’s a major stabilizer for carcasses and it will definitely support the rear of the carcass and prevent future sagging. Then, if you can run a couple of battens, or otherwise stiffen the top, that should be enough to pull the front up. It’s a pretty small sag after all.

Also, what’s the situation with that bottom apron in the front? I assume it’s sagging too. You could look into stiffening it as well. Maybe a piece of angle iron behind it.

I believe those ideas will work, but I’m sure you’re going to get some other suggestions that may work better.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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DerekJ

111 posts in 1249 days


#4 posted 04-25-2019 03:11 PM

Thanks, Bob!

I will have a back added. The previous back is still in decent shape so I plan to reattach that using a few nails.

I was thinking about a piece of angle iron as well… if I can get it clamped flat and screw a piece of iron to the lower apron, I think that would help a lot.

I’m thinking if I flip the dresser upside-down and clamp it down to my workbench, that should pull the sag out and allow me to stiffen in place.

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

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Rich

4407 posts in 951 days


#5 posted 04-25-2019 03:23 PM


Thanks, Bob!

- DerekJ

My name is Rich. Bob Flexner is the author of the quote in my signature.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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DerekJ

111 posts in 1249 days


#6 posted 04-25-2019 03:24 PM

Ha, leave it to me…. sorry about that. Thanks Rich!

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

View MikeDilday's profile

MikeDilday

250 posts in 821 days


#7 posted 04-26-2019 01:36 AM

I like your idea of clamping it to the bench. Leave it there for a few days to allow the wood to relax some. Your best bet would be to reinforce it on the bottom with as wide a 1x hardwood as you can get. A box type reinforcement might work best. Making sort of a channel with a 1x? flat standing off underneath with a couple of strips all glued together. How much distance between the bottom drawer under frame and the bottom of the skirt?

-- Michael Dilday, Suffolk, Va.

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CWWoodworking

436 posts in 541 days


#8 posted 04-26-2019 01:48 AM

I used to sell a ton of dressers built like that. They all used a 1/8” ply back and a leg. I’m guessing angle iron could replace the leg, but I would not rely on the back alone.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

3338 posts in 1749 days


#9 posted 04-26-2019 02:20 AM

Was the back missing when you got it? If so, that is probably why it is sagging now. Might not be a bad idea to inspect the joints on the 2 middle verticals to see if they need to be strengthened somehow. Once you get it flat again, the back should hold it place, much like trusses on a bridge prevent bridges from sagging

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Woodknack

12773 posts in 2742 days


#10 posted 04-26-2019 02:58 AM

I think Rich and Nathan are on track, clamp it straight, install a top and back and I think it will be fine. Maybe use 1/2” instead of 1/8” for the back, just a little insurance.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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DerekJ

111 posts in 1249 days


#11 posted 04-26-2019 02:59 AM

The back was on, so I am a bit surprised by the sagging, but it is just 1/4 pressed board…

I appreciate everyone’s responses! I think I’ve got a good action plan!

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

117616 posts in 3939 days


#12 posted 04-26-2019 03:40 AM

My suggestion may be hard to do depending on the tools you own and your experience in working with wood. If it was mine I would lay it upside down and cut a groove in the bottom of the sagging face frame, at least 1/2 way through the height of the face frame or more if you can accomplish that, then glue a spline in place with a glue that will dry very hard, like a resin glue, Aka formaldehyde resin glue. place some wax paper under the face frame and clamp to a bench so it is straight, wipe off excess glue and let dry 24 hours. if glued and clamped properly your face frame should be nice and straight and should stay that way.

https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos

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DerekJ

111 posts in 1249 days


#13 posted 04-26-2019 04:07 AM

Jim, interesting approach! What tool would you use to cut the grove in the lower apron? I am trying to imagine doing that without using a table saw or router table and am at a loss….

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

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a1Jim

117616 posts in 3939 days


#14 posted 04-26-2019 04:58 AM

I think if you clamp or can just lay an additional piece of wood to the back of the face frame that will help with keeping a handheld router balanced, perhaps just a straight bit with a guide to cut the groove and one of the compact routers (like one of the Dewalts ,Makita’s or other brands might make the task easier. If the drawer opening is to tight for a compact router you may be able to use a Dremel using very light passes or a vintage low profile router.

Looking again you might be able to just put the groove in the top of the face frame on a table saw if the new top is going to cover the face frame.

View Rich's profile

Rich

4407 posts in 951 days


#15 posted 04-26-2019 05:36 AM


Looking again you might be able to just put the groove in the top of the face frame on a table saw if the new top is going to cover the face frame.

- a1Jim

Jim’s suggestion to glue in a spline as a stiffener is a good one.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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