Adventures in Vacuum Veneering #5: Lingerie Chest Build

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Blog entry by SPalm posted 1598 days ago 8758 reads 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: First Lessons Learned Part 5 of Adventures in Vacuum Veneering series no next part

I got in way over my head on this one, and I still have a long way to go. I wanted to do a piece with some veneering work, so I picked a Lingerie Chest. The wife unit wanted one, so it started. I also found out that a Lingerie Chest was to have seven drawers, for the seven days of the week. Who knew?

So I veneered two panels of 3/4 inch MDF with quarter-sawn cherry. They are about 42 inches by 14 inches. I used the home made shower curtain bag with my vacuum pump. That will probably be the last stuff I press with it. I think I have enough experience now to buy a real bag. Here is a picture with the panels and 4 legs. The legs are 4 feet tall by 1.5 inches square.


To continue with the veneering, I covered the seven drawer fronts with some nice plain-sliced cherry veneer. I used some not-so-pretty solid cherry for the substrate. The plan is to dovetail into the cherry substrate for the drawer sides, just like standard drawers.


I then made the eight drawer frames using standard tablesaw grooves and tenons. The fronts of these are solid cherry and the secondary wood is poplar. I used 1/4 inch MDF triangles in the corners for strength and to help keep them square. The lowest frame was shortened and an apron was attached to hang below the drawer.


One really nice thing about this build is the thick MDF and the legs. I was able to just biscuit them together, as the MDF will not move. This makes for a really strong and stable structure. I tapered the bottom inside of the legs and cut biscuit holes down the center, creating a 1/4 inch leg exposure on either side of the MDF.

At this point I probably made the biggest mistake so far. I was too chicken to dado the insides of the MDF for the frames as the sides were so large and heavy, and I was sure that they would move and twist on the saw. So I went with biscuits. I glued 1/4 inch thick MDF strips (which will be the drawer side guides) to where I wanted the bottom of the drawers to be and then cut the biscuit slots. This was a lot easier in my mind than in real life. The chance for error is enormous.

Here is a pic before gluing on the legs showing the biscuits in the sides of the legs. Also the drawer side guides and the frame biscuit holes.


Here is a picture of the completed side and frames ready to go. They have one coat of sanding sealer on them, and a light sanding after that.


I tried a dry fit last night. Gad Zooks!! Getting the 32 biscuits into their little slots all at the same time was not fun. I am not looking forward to the final glue up. But hey, it keeps it exciting.

So here are some pictures of the dry fit. I added 1/4 inch thick fake rails to the sides to give the illusion of a frame and panel. They are not attached yet. I am still trying to decide whether to lower the bottom one to match the front apron, and if they should have a curve on the bottom.




I still have a lot of work; deciding on the fake rails, the big glue up, and then creating and fitting seven drawers. Oh, and finishing. I am planning on an oil finish.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

13 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6647 posts in 2613 days

#1 posted 1598 days ago

Wow Steve;

Great job!

Seven drawers for seven days, huh? Who’d have thunk?


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View jm82435's profile


1263 posts in 2376 days

#2 posted 1598 days ago

Looking great so far. Good luck with the glue up.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View acanthuscarver's profile


261 posts in 2346 days

#3 posted 1598 days ago


Looks great. I just want to know where the end grain inlay is?

And, you know, I think there’s a class on drawer construction and fitting somewhere… in case you run into any major troubles ;)

Make sure you post the end result. The material you have is absolutely beautiful.

-- Chuck Bender, Senior Editor Popular Woodworking Magazine, period furniture maker, woodworking instructor

View HokieMojo's profile


2098 posts in 2362 days

#4 posted 1598 days ago

is this the chest from wood magazine? I really want to make this one too, but I doubt I’ll do veneer. Baby steps for me. This looks fantastic so far!

View degoose's profile


6996 posts in 1988 days

#5 posted 1598 days ago

Looking good Steve, Keep having fun, play safe.

-- Drink twice... and don't bother to cut... @ For lovers of all things timber...

View PetVet's profile


329 posts in 2121 days

#6 posted 1598 days ago

If they would just learn to flip their undies inside out on the second day, it sure would cut down on the number of drawers…
This is a great blog, very instructional, thanks for taking the time to post it.
Since the glue up is going to be pretty exciting, what glue are you going to use? Maybe a slower setting resin glue? Also, what glue did you use for the veneering?
Thanks again!

-- Rich in Richmond -- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

View Karson's profile


34870 posts in 3034 days

#7 posted 1598 days ago

Steve I’m in about the 6th year of my Lingerie Chest build. I’m using Granadillo and Angel step Maple and Eucalyptus Burl Veneer on the job. I’ve not touched them in about 2 years. I’m making one for my daughter and daughter-in-law.

I was going for the 7 drawer design, but they wanted bigger drawers because now they want bulky sweaters instead of flimsy lingerie. So I’m putting in a hidden 7th drawer. I’m a stickler for tradition.

They also made 8 drawer chests. That was so me-lady could come home from church and then slip into something more comfortable for the rest of the day. The maid put out the weeks lingerie. (I don’t know if they were engraved with the days of the week)

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware †

View SPalm's profile


4791 posts in 2515 days

#8 posted 1598 days ago

Hey Guys, thanks for the replies.

@Chuck: I think the material is really nice too. I was wondering whether the different cuts of cherry would work. So far, so good.

@Mo: There was a project in Wood magazine a while ago that I is kind of like this. Of course, silly me, I had to try to just wing it and try my own design. I just can’t work from plans. I have a few sketches on paper, a story stick, and that is about it.

@Rich: How do you make 3 and a half drawers? I do need to look into slow setting glue. I have never tried it. I am a Titebond kinda guy so far. And that is what I used for the veneer too. I guess I should expand my universe. I have a bad feeling that no matter what type of glue is used for the glue up, once the biscuits get wet, they expand, and then they lock tight. Arrgh.

@Karson: Good stuff. You got a giggle out of me. This has been going on a while too. I started looking a veneering because the wife unit did not like the cherry that I had bought for this project, and I was too cheap to buy expensive wood.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Lenny's profile


1252 posts in 2161 days

#9 posted 1598 days ago

Looks wonderful Steve. Great work. BTW, Titebond III has a longer open time…about 8 minutes. Not sure if that is enough for this glue-up. I am not crazy about it. It is thinner so it runs/drips more easily and is essentially messier. Maybe I use too much. Karson, there is no truth to the rumor that Steve intended this to be an 8-drawer piece but had to go with 7 since 8 would have hit the ceiling when placed on his workbench!

Continued success on the project Steve.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View bigike's profile


4031 posts in 1922 days

#10 posted 1598 days ago

very good job

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View Karson's profile


34870 posts in 3034 days

#11 posted 1598 days ago

I know: he would have had to cut the legs off his bench to get an 8 drawer chest on top.

That would have been too painful.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware †

View SPalm's profile


4791 posts in 2515 days

#12 posted 1597 days ago

I told you that I got in way over my head on this one.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Lenny's profile


1252 posts in 2161 days

#13 posted 1597 days ago

Ha ha, nice come back Steve!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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