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Stretching My Skills: Dresser Design Help

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Forum topic by DerekJ posted 06-07-2019 04:32 AM 309 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DerekJ

120 posts in 1308 days


06-07-2019 04:32 AM

Topic tags/keywords: dresser help dresser design plans walnut

Good evening again! Last time I posted I got some great feedback, so hoping I get some good guidance again.

I am a very novice woodworker – can handle small or simple projects very well – but am really stretching myself trying to build a dresser for my soon-to-arrive baby. My goal is no nails, and only use screws to attach the 3/4” top to the carcass.

I’m building it out of walnut and planning to replicate something similar to this:

My sides are done – built as panels with veneered MDF (shown below):

What I am looking for help with is whether or not the rest of my design – 2” rails across the top and bottom, with a vertical support in the middle – will be sufficiently sturdy. I plan to use metal slides, so I don’t think I need rails dividing in drawer cavity, since I don’t have any weight to bear across the front or back of the cabinet….

I have included a drawing of what I’m planning, I am just looking for confirmation from some more knowledgeable folks. I’m lacking some confidence in my skills right now!!!

Note that I will have drawers on both sides, i just only put them on one side in the drawing to be able to show the frame as well.

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE


12 replies so far

View HammerSmith's profile

HammerSmith

291 posts in 505 days


#1 posted 06-07-2019 08:05 AM



Good evening again! Last time I posted I got some great feedback, so hoping I get some good guidance again.

I am a very novice woodworker – can handle small or simple projects very well – but am really stretching myself trying to build a dresser for my soon-to-arrive baby. My goal is no nails, and only use screws to attach the 3/4” top to the carcass.

I m building it out of walnut and planning to replicate something similar to this:

My sides are done – built as panels with veneered MDF (shown below):

What I am looking for help with is whether or not the rest of my design – 2” rails across the top and bottom, with a vertical support in the middle – will be sufficiently sturdy. I plan to use metal slides, so I don t think I need rails dividing in drawer cavity, since I don t have any weight to bear across the front or back of the cabinet….

I have included a drawing of what I m planning, I am just looking for confirmation from some more knowledgeable folks. I m lacking some confidence in my skills right now!!!

Note that I will have drawers on both sides, i just only put them on one side in the drawing to be able to show the frame as well.

- DerekJ

I think you should leave the bottom “rail” exposed. It will make the design look more stout. I was taught that the base should look heavier than the top. ...as in your first pic.

Also, align the vertical grains so that it looks like it’s standing with the “legs” spread… Like a linebacker before the ball is snapped, or a Sumo wrestler, etc. It’s a good look… Also, on that exposed bottom rail, set the grain like a rainbow, like an arch. It’s a subliminal thing that people see without actually noticing…

Personally, I would add spreaders to help keep the drawer tracks spaced… It might never matter, but it’s only four extra pieces and it would make the whole thing a lot stronger… even it it was just held in with pocket screws.

Congrats and good luck!

-- ~Jim

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DerekJ

120 posts in 1308 days


#2 posted 06-07-2019 11:20 AM

Thanks Jim! Can you elaborate a bit more in the vertical grain alignment? I didn’t quite follow which pieces will have visible vertical grain.

As far as the base goes, this whole carcass assembly is going to sit on top of a base that is visible below the drawers and is flush with the face of the drawers. It’ll be 2” thick rail, with 5” tapered legs in the corners (will set 3” off the ground, 2” of the legs are joined with the base rail).

I will use your grain arch tip if I can find a piece in my shop to accommodate!

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

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CWWoodworking

528 posts in 600 days


#3 posted 06-07-2019 11:35 AM

I would use a 3/4 back and remove all questions about sagging. Makes drawer slide install and assembly easier.

I think the design is fine.

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DerekJ

120 posts in 1308 days


#4 posted 06-07-2019 01:00 PM



I would use a 3/4 back and remove all questions about sagging. Makes drawer slide install and assembly easier.

I think the design is fine.

- CWWoodworking

CW, would you go with solid walnut or a plywood panel for the 3/4” back? And if walnut, I assume I’d use an unglued half-lap joint across the back, but how would you attach it to the side frame?

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

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CWWoodworking

528 posts in 600 days


#5 posted 06-07-2019 01:05 PM

I’d just use plywood.

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DerekJ

120 posts in 1308 days


#6 posted 06-07-2019 01:11 PM



I’d just use plywood.

- CWWoodworking

Thank you. I appreciate your time and experience. Could you explain how the plywood makes installing the slides easier? I was under the impression that side-mount slides did not need a rear bracket and could be installed completely to the side frame of the box!

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

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MPython

135 posts in 233 days


#7 posted 06-07-2019 02:14 PM

A 3/4” plywood back will be heavy. I’d use a frame and panel construction for the back with 4” pine or poplar rails and styles and 1/4 plywood panels. It wold be just as strong and much lighter than a solid plywood back. Like this one that has solid pine panels:

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

1417 posts in 3270 days


#8 posted 06-07-2019 03:02 PM

Derek,
From the look of your panels, you’ve got some good skills developing. I have to ask the “Why” on the slides though, you’re planning to build a double dresser with walnut & I think you should think about running a drawer frame and skipping the slides. Check out Norm's dresser on youtube It’s not really that much work and you’ll be building more of an heirloom family piece that’ll last beyond your grandchildren.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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DerekJ

120 posts in 1308 days


#9 posted 06-07-2019 03:04 PM


I’d just use plywood.

- CWWoodworking

Thank you, CW! I appreciate your time and experience. Could you explain how the plywood makes installing the slides easier? I was under the impression that side-mount slides did not need a rear bracket and could be installed completely to the side frame of the box!

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

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CWWoodworking

528 posts in 600 days


#10 posted 06-07-2019 03:05 PM

Eliminate the back internal framing, and use a 3/4 back. Then you have more adjustments with the slides. If you keep the internal framework in the back, it eliminates the side to side adjustments you can do.

IMO, a frame and panel is more work for zero gain except for looking more historically correct. Which personally I care nothing about.

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DerekJ

120 posts in 1308 days


#11 posted 06-07-2019 03:11 PM



Derek,
From the look of your panels, you ve got some good skills developing. I have to ask the “Why” on the slides though, you re planning to build a double dresser with walnut & I think you should think about running a drawer frame and skipping the slides. Check out Norm s dresser on youtube It s not really that much work and you ll be building more of an heirloom family piece that ll last beyond your grandchildren.

- ChefHDAN

ChefHDAN,

I guess I have three reasons for the slides:

1) I’ve never done drawers before and thought slides would be easier to install and fit

2) My wife has a thing for old dressers – we have one from the 20s and two from the 50s in the house – and I have more trouble opening and closing some of those drawers…. I figured slides would help prevent them from binding in high humidity settings.

3) Mortise and tenon joints take me ages to fit, so I thought I could eliminate 16 mortise/tenon joints by not installing the additional spreaders across the front and back for a wood slide support.

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

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ChefHDAN

1417 posts in 3270 days


#12 posted 06-20-2019 03:58 PM

Well Derek to Derek,
I find slides to be a total PITA at times but will use them for pieces I build for others. I don’t like old pieces that use the wooden tracks that can bind as you’ve described. When the build quality is poor boxes can rack in the opening and also bind, but simple wooded tracks/slides with a good piston fit seem to please me. For the M&T the other option is to dado the dust frames and then cover it all with a face frame. But, blah blah blah, build what works for you, when it’s all said and done you’re the only one that needs to be pleased with it. Please post pics when you’re done.

-Derek, (glad you spell it right)

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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