Pine Nightstand #2: Base and Drawer Construction

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Blog entry by mitchota posted 03-28-2014 06:34 AM 1166 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Small mistakes and recovery Part 2 of Pine Nightstand series Part 3: Making the Top, final assembly, and starting the finish »

After the dry fit, I glued and clamped up everything to build the base. Aside from that one small mistake on cutting the mortises, it went all together fine. It came out pretty close to perfectly square and I didn’t need to use all my clamps!

I started work on the drawer and learned the virtues of my planer very quickly. 1/2” pine isn’t easy to come by, and most of the pieces I would find at the store are cupped or twisted into uselessness. I made the decision when I was picking up materials that I could plane down the pieces I would make into the drawer sides and back. I also had some leftover 1/4” ply from my other projects that I could use for the bottom. I got to work and put together the drawer without major incident. There was a moment when I was in my dry-fit when I found out I cut my bottom too big, but I just shaved it down using my table saw and that was all good.

Of course, since I don’t ever learn and I make some kind of idiotic mistake on the drawers, I got a little overzealous with the sanding. I normally don’t get close to the mating parts, but this time I just sanded it down and then realized that I sanded my joints a little loose. There were some gaps that obviously weren’t there before. That was my first big lesson that pine sands VERY easily and even with 180 and 220 with my random orbit sander, it’s really easy to sand them down too thin.

The drawer joints were a little loose, but it still worked out to be a secure enough fit that the drawer was nice and squared up and it is still strong. I have to leave a reminder to myself to sand more gently on my future projects. I guess that I didn’t really notice that much of a problem when I built my first nightstand since that was made out of poplar and that sanded down much more predictably.

I find it interesting that even though I made a piece just like this, the change in materials has created its own fair share of difficulties and problems. I haven’t worked a lot with solid material up to this point. The chest of drawers I built was mostly plywood, and all my shop projects are basically all plywood too. The other nightstand was the only other thing I built that was entirely solid wood. I’m not used to having to contend with wood movement, and I’m also not quite accustomed to the fact that 3/4” solid wood is actually 3/4” for the most part. The differences between poplar and pine are very dramatic. I’ll have to be mindful of these things on my next project.

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