Continuing the Craftsman theme in our home, I’ve moved to the master bath. My wife has always complained about needing more storage space. I found inspiration for “his and hers” built-in chest of drawers in the plan-book by Robert W. Lang, Shop Drawing for Craftsman Interiors, Cabinet Moldings & Built-Ins for Every Room in the Home. Plans were straight forward.
Because the chests will be so close to the sink and submitted to high doses of humidity/water, I chose to use HD hardwood plywood throughout. Carcass material is 3/4” plywood with 1/4” backing. Drawers are fronted with 3/4” plywood, 1/2” plywood sides/back, and 1/4” plywood bottoms. I trimmed with poplar to hide the plywood edges and banded the top with strips of oak to minimize denting. My plan was to maximize drawer space by doing away with runners. I felt the drawers were small enough that I wouldn’t have problems with binding. As an exercise in trade craft, I also decided to dovetail all the drawers. This turned out to be a mixed blessing. Frankly, producing dovetails on plywood with a router table was incredibly frustrating as I suffered through countless tear outs, burnt bits, etc. On the plus side, I did learn how to make a lot of dovetails efficiently.
The project went together smoothly, but I took my time in getting it done. The plan called for the drawers to increase in size from top to bottom, so each cutting was unique. Although I liked the plywood pattern the drawers left when complete, my wife thought otherwise.
Final verdict was to paint the chests in colors similar to the bathroom: White exterior & blue interior; non-exposed parts were simply clear sealed. The result is pleasing to the eye, although I lost the ability to see the dovetails I put so much effort in to! Hardware came from Restoration Hardware & has a period feel.
Installing the cabinets was a little time consuming. Because of all the plumbing, I decided to cut away drywall in order to put eyeballs on the studs and piping. This actually made the fitting easier as I could inset the chests aiding my ability to level them…and I avoided any plumbing disasters. After the chests were installed, I coated the interior spaces and drawer bottoms with ordinary canning wax. Worked like a charm; no problems with binding. I’m pleased with the result and so’s the wife.
-- Jeff, "The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me."