Seven Drawer Dresser #1: In Progress

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Blog entry by hammcrafted posted 08-18-2012 11:38 AM 4871 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Seven Drawer Dresser series Part 2: Ready for the Finishing Room »

The design is taken almost exactly from Making Authentic Shaker Furniture. The only changes I’ve made are to the layout of the drawers, the addition of a chamfer on the underside of the top and an open top to the carcase, which may or may not be a change. The “measured drawings” don’t go into much detail. It’s a new construction technique for me and I just didn’t like the idea of screwing two solid pieces of wood together; it seems like a bit of a waste even if the open construction takes longer. When it comes time to finish I’ll say more about my paint plans. As with all my projects since starting at North Bennet Street School I’ve used only Old Brown Glue.

So far there are 50 hand cut dovetails plus 12 more in the horizontal and vertical dividers. At least 75 more to come in the drawers. If you trimmed all the fat it’s been about 85-90 hours.

Here are some shots of the build so far.

115+ board feet of poplar:

horizontal dividers installed:

open, unglued mortises allow the open top to move with the seasons:

early morning light:

rabbeting with a router allows the case to sit perfectly in the plinth, even if the case sides aren’t square to the front:

establishing pilot holes with one of my favorite tools, the gimlet:

laying out for one of the vertical dividers:

knife lines:

To those whose eyebrows go up when they see the picture of laying out the vertical dividers: I’m doing things out of order. I got a bit ahead of myself on the day I fit the horizontal dividers and just glued them in at the end of the day. Walking the dog that night I realized that I definitely should have fit and glued the vertical dividers in first. As it turns out I think I prefer doing in the way that I did, but only because the drawers are wide enough that I was still able to use my router plane.

-- Charles -

2 comments so far

View Martino23's profile


17 posts in 2527 days

#1 posted 09-16-2012 06:43 AM

“rabbeting with a router allows the case to sit perfectly in the plinth, even if the case sides aren’t square to the front:”

Please explain this statement further. I don’t understand how the rabbet helps the case sit in the plinth, even if the case sides aren’t square. How thick is the wood you used for the plinth, one inch? How deep is the rabbet, 1/4? How does the rabbet help if the case is not square?

I need to build a plinth for a small blanket chest, and I am considering using the mitered dovetails like yours.

Did you cut the cut out of the plinth before or after glue up? I read somewhere to cut it after glue up, but I don’t see how that can be done, without the other side of the plinth getting in the way.

Thanks for patience with my questions. I would love to have gone to the NBSS if I had the chance. I envy you.


View hammcrafted's profile


12 posts in 2315 days

#2 posted 09-17-2012 01:17 PM

Hi Martin, thanks for your questions.

Here’s what I did. I assembled and glued up the plinth without any rabbet. (I found a video of Chris Schwarz on the Popular Woodworking website for how to cut the dovetails with a miter.) I then set the case on top of the plinth and used a marking knife to lay out exactly where I wanted it to sit. Glue on cleats with pre-drilled holes for screws and clamp on a big, flattened piece to the outside (for a router to ride on), making sure that everything is flush. The plinth was about 1” so that it was taking most of the weight of the case with 3/4” left for my molding. I then used a handheld router to establish a 1/8” rabbet as close to my knife lines as I was comfortable with and chiseled the rest. The case dropped in on the first try.

All that said, I wouldn’t do it this way again. There is really no reason not to just sit the case on right on the plinth. There are some situations in which it might be the way to go but for this project it only added time for no real gain.

I hope that helps. I’m happy to answer any other questions.
Thanks again,


-- Charles -

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