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Dresser design strong enough?

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Forum topic by Thorbjorn88 posted 09-11-2019 05:05 AM 452 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Thorbjorn88

50 posts in 623 days


09-11-2019 05:05 AM

This is the first real furniture project that I’m not using someone else’s design on and I was second guessing whether the design is strong enough. Are the rabbet and housing dado joints on this dresser top and side panels sufficient? Should I add dowels? I’m using solid walnut.


15 replies so far

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wildwoodbybrianjohns

184 posts in 28 days


#1 posted 09-11-2019 10:37 AM

You should, perhaps, include the dimensions with a question like this, particularly the width???

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: It is wiser to find out, than to suppose (S. Clemens)

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ScottM

740 posts in 2627 days


#2 posted 09-11-2019 12:08 PM

I have built two pieces of a bedroom set using the same techniques; dust frames rabbeted into the side panels with no mechanical or internal fasteners. Just glue. No problems to date. The overall “bulk” of the piece once loaded with contents, I believe, adds a lot of strength to the dresser.

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pottz

5978 posts in 1465 days


#3 posted 09-11-2019 01:51 PM

the design itself looks pretty sufficient up to a certain point,but as wildwood said what are the dimensions?

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

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Robert

3516 posts in 1961 days


#4 posted 09-11-2019 02:06 PM

A few comments on construction:

You want a solid bottom to add structure. It is commonly is dovetailed to the sides. The top is applied rather than integral to allow for overhang. You can use a “sub-top” which consists of two rails front and back, also dt’d.

One of the biggest issues with case work is allowing for wood movement.

Dovetailed dividers are also pretty standard. They don’t have to extend more than a couple inches. Dado joints are not structural in a horizontal direction and you’ve got 100% endgrain gluing, too. The dividers have a be attached to allow the sides to move. Dowels would not allow for movement. You normally wouldn’t glue the dividers to the sides either, just in the middle. The can, however be toenailed into the dados.

Proportions are fairly important with any kind of casework. Length and width, descending drawer heights pleasing to the eye.

Here’s an excellent source you can download from FWW I used it to build the dresser in my icon:

Good Luck!!

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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Thorbjorn88

50 posts in 623 days


#5 posted 09-11-2019 04:24 PM

Sorry, I uploaded the image without dimensions on it and I don’t have that one on this computer. But the case itself is 20” deep, 30” tall, and 30” wide.

The reason I started to doubt this design is that I was watching Paul Sellers series on building a chest of drawers and he had a number of features mentioned by Robert. He dovetails the front rails, the rear rails have a through mortise to the side walls, and there is a dovetailed sub-top.

The dovetailed sub-top and solid bottom would be easy enough to incorporate into the design but the dovetailed front rails would be difficult because I don’t want the front rails visible.

If I did the solid bottom and sub-top would mixing woods be a concern? I don’t have enough walnut to make those extra panels. Would it be ok if I did just the front board walnut and the rest say alder? The walnut I have I bought from buy who’d had it in his garage for years in Tucson, Az where it’s very dry and I would have to buy the alder or whatever new but kiln dried.

So what I’m thinking now is basically to make a dovetailed box with an extra top for the main case then just use the dados as shown for the drawer supports and top shelf. Does that sound like a good compromise?

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wildwoodbybrianjohns

184 posts in 28 days


#6 posted 09-11-2019 05:14 PM

One tip for gluing up large end grain runs: run a bead of glue on your edge and smooth it out so most of it comes away, wait a minute or so, perhaps, this will seal the grain somewhat. Then reglue the edge with a fair amount of glue and assemble.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: It is wiser to find out, than to suppose (S. Clemens)

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bandit571

23601 posts in 3164 days


#7 posted 09-11-2019 05:16 PM

A sliding dovetail might be better?

I milled the webframes to fit the sliding sockets…

Frames are then slid in, with the last few inches getting a bead of glue….Plywood back sits in a rebate, and is screwed and glued in place….I use the back to square up the case.

A face frame is then attached, the the drawers fitted..

Then a finish..

Not too bad, for just Pine…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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Robert

3516 posts in 1961 days


#8 posted 09-11-2019 07:14 PM


One tip for gluing up large end grain runs: run a bead of glue on your edge and smooth it out so most of it comes away, wait a minute or so, perhaps, this will seal the grain somewhat. Then reglue the edge with a fair amount of glue and assemble.

- wildwoodbybrianjohns

Good tip, but you wouldn’t want to do this on the dividers.

@Thorbjorn88 – yes, a secondary wood is usually used for the internal components that will not show, for example the sides and rear rails of the drawer dividers, all but the front 3” of the bottom and sub top. Usually a softer wood like poplar or pine, but alder will work, too.

The dovetailed front divider rails do not particularly draw the eye, and if anyone does notice, hey, its a point of craftsmanship! That said, they really are necessary from a structural point. Most dressers that are simply dado’d will eventually separate, even just from sitting there, but especially when moved. If you’re set on doing dados you’ll have to figure a way to anchor the front points so a gap doesn’t appear. As I mentioned, toe nails will allow for motion along the length of the divider, but wouldn’t hold the front tight enough.

30” tall is quite low for a dresser, is this for a child? Understanding that furniture is often constrained by a particular room, but you might want to reconsider increasing the height to say, 45”. Similar to what Bandit is showing.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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Thorbjorn88

50 posts in 623 days


#9 posted 09-11-2019 07:22 PM

Yeah this is meant to be a dresser/changing table so the shelf instead of a top drawer will hold diapers and such. The 30” is just the case, the feet will add about 6 inches.

It’s not really the dovetails I’d be trying to hide but the front rail itself. My wife likes the look of more modern dressers like this one. Where the drawers are all you see. What happens I replace the wooden drawer supports with drawer slides?

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Thorbjorn88

50 posts in 623 days


#10 posted 09-16-2019 03:10 PM

I’ve reworked the design a little. Now I’m getting rid of the top shelf. So it will just be 4 drawers. My wife prefers metal drawer slides to traditional drawers that slide on the supports. So do I need drawer supports/dividers if I’m using drawer slides?

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jdh122

1093 posts in 3298 days


#11 posted 09-16-2019 07:31 PM

If you have a dovetailed sub-top and a bottom there is (IMHO) no need to do sliding dovetails for the other drawer supports, a stopped rabbet will be OK.
If you’re using Blum-style drawer slides I see no need for drawer dividers or supports. Personally I wouldn’t use metal slides on a solid wood dresser, but I know that for some people the added convenience outweighs a desire to use traditional construction methods.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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Thorbjorn88

50 posts in 623 days


#12 posted 09-16-2019 09:43 PM

Thanks for the input. Yeah I think it’ll look a little off with the slides. That detail isn’t finalized yet but it certainly will speed up the construction process.

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ppg677

218 posts in 1337 days


#13 posted 09-17-2019 03:29 AM

So I built this a few years ago. And while the case construction is quite strong because of the box joints, I only used dados for the web frame dividers and those dados were probably only 3/16” deep. They are still holding up, but I do sorely regret not doing a sliding dovetail for the front of the web frames as during seasonal humidity changes, gaps do appear.

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Thorbjorn88

50 posts in 623 days


#14 posted 09-17-2019 03:10 PM

That’s a great looking dresser, thanks for the insight. Do the gaps appear around all the drawers or only the middle ones? How tall is the case?

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ppg677

218 posts in 1337 days


#15 posted 09-17-2019 06:48 PM


That s a great looking dresser, thanks for the insight. Do the gaps appear around all the drawers or only the middle ones? How tall is the case?

- Thorbjorn88

The case is probably around 50” tall.

When the season changes to humid weather, the gaps appears towards the middle stretchers (and then the gaps go away once all the wood normalizes I think). I think the case sides bow every so slightly. The plans I was working off of called for dados along with the front 2-3” being a sliding dovetail, but I ignored that thinking dados would work fine. Well, its not the end of the world— so far it hasn’t fallen apart.

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