Well, there are plenty of blogs on building a box by people who are much better at it than me, but since this is the first I have attempted with side drawers I will throw out how I chose to cheat.
I started by milling down some walnut boards. My planer blades are getting hideously dull, so the figured pieces had some pretty vicious tear-out. My plan is to shape the end product with the carving wheel, so it’s not terribly critical right now, thank goodness. My goal is to make a box with a mitered flat top that has a rabbet on the bottom to accept the board from the bottom. Because I am assembling from the bottom side, I will also need a rabbet to accept the bottom of the whole box (normally I would use a dado for bottom support and alignment).
I first started with the sides of the box. For the two sides with drawers, I ripped the pieces lengthwise into 3. A bottom “rail” a top “rail” and the middle section that I’ll cut the drawer front from. This introduces a discontinuity in the grain, but I am hoping the carving obscures it.
I then marked out the center of the drawer and the desired width, and drew the cut lines on the middle stripe. I cut these on the crosscut sled, then lined everything back up (paying attention throughout to keep pieces cut from the same board together) and glued up the frame, using the drawer face and cardboard shims on the sides to align everything.
Once everything was dry, I marked the center of the drawer and scribed a line using a square. I tilted the blade to 45 degrees on the table saw and marked the first cut only on one side of the board. I used my crosscut sled to “sneak up” on the desired cut width, and once I had it, I used the mark on the frame to mark my crosscut sled. I realize now how confusing this sounds, should have taken more pictures here. Once I had the mark on the sled I could use that to line up all of the miters and cut all 4 sides to length. Normally I use a stop block on the fence to ensure 100% consistency, but this worked surprisingly well.
Once that was done I glued up the bottom. I used the painters tape trick and then secured it with a pair of band clamps.
For the top, I ripped the frame edges extra wide and then cut the miters. I used a band clamp to temporarily hold it together so I xould measure the center opening with respect to the chess board. Then I used the table saw fence to trim it thinner until I had the size I wanted for the inside opening. Once that was done, I added a rabbet for the plywood under the board to go into.
The top frame at this point is about a quarter inch proud of the box bottom. To glue it all up I used a frame clamp for the mitered top, then set the bottom box on it and clamped the dickens out of the whole deal to pull all the seams tight.
Once dry, I used the belt sander to run the frame down flat against the sides. Then I got out the little sled I use for miter keys. I grabbed a scrap piece to use as a story stick and marked the desired locations for the miter keys on it. I could then use this to line up the stop on the sled.
I only needed the two marks because I can get more consistent top/bottom spacing by flipping the box and keeping the stop in place.
Splines are drying now. Hoping to carve tomorrow. Also hoping I don’t slip and wreck it all!
Quick edit: the pictures don’t really show the cuts for it, but the drawer faces are all just friction fit back into the frames to provide support during all this.