Chest of Drawers Construction Question

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Forum topic by boatz posted 03-06-2016 10:32 PM 764 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View boatz's profile


92 posts in 1649 days

03-06-2016 10:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: ash

I am building my first chest of drawers. Should be fun. I have made an initial construction design on SkethUp.
The overall dimensions are 36”H x 40” W x 20” D.
It is basically a post and panel construction. The posts are 1 1/2” x 2”. It will be constructed of ash with ash plywood panels.
I will be anchoring the web into the posts with sliding dovetails. This is the only place where they are anchored. The front to back web pieces are in a dado with a stub tenon. Will this construction be sufficiently strong?
Here are some SketchUp images. (I colored all the like pieces the same color to aid the cut diagram)

-- You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find, you'll get what you need

10 replies so far

View ChefHDAN's profile


1062 posts in 2847 days

#1 posted 03-07-2016 12:40 AM

Boatz,looks good to go,its the same construction that has been used for 100’s of years. Once the back panel is dropped into a rabbet on the back it should be VERY solid

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View MadMark's profile


979 posts in 1450 days

#2 posted 03-07-2016 12:53 AM

The top is the only thing holding the front & back from pulling apart. The crossgrain tongue joint (yel/dk red) can’t take a lot of tension load. This will make it subject to racking when pushed. The floating panels have zero tension strength.

Put a couple of cross struts on it.


-- Madmark -

View boatz's profile


92 posts in 1649 days

#3 posted 03-07-2016 01:41 AM

Can you please explain where the cross struts go.

-- You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find, you'll get what you need

View BurlyBob's profile


5491 posts in 2263 days

#4 posted 03-07-2016 01:45 AM

You could run that dado all the way around and put dust shelves between the drawers. A piece of 1/4” plywood glued in would also provided the strength your looking for.

View splatman's profile


586 posts in 1396 days

#5 posted 03-07-2016 01:46 AM

One thing (besides what MadMark said), is to make what I presume are the drawer rails (yellow) wider, so the edge closest to the side panels are extended to fill the gap between them and the panels, and make that edge thicker, so they have an L shape, or better, a sideways T shape. As they are now, they won’t keep the drawers from sliding in cockeyed. As a bonus, you’ll be able to attach them directly to the posts, maybe with pocket screws.

Also, you’ll want to put a panel on the bottom, to keep bugs and who knows what from creeping into the bottom drawer. I’ve seen plenty of drawer chests with that feature. Set it in grooves just like your side panels. Some units also have a panel between each drawer. Cut grooves in the yellow parts (you already have ‘em in the dk red parts) and make panels to fit.

If you extend the yellow parts on the bottom downward so they’re even with bottom rails (dk blue) and cut the bottom panel grooves ¼” or so from the bottom, you’ll create a hidden compartment. Cut a rabbet on the top inside edges of the dk blue and yellow parts to fit a panel, so the compartment will be obvious when the bottom drawer is removed.

Another feature I’ve seen more than a few times, is the back panel is actually several (4 in your case) panels set in grooves in the posts and rails (orange and light blue/dark blue/dark red parts)

OK, better slow down now, before I crash and live up to my nickname is a way I should not.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5120 posts in 1718 days

#6 posted 03-07-2016 03:13 AM

You could also use pocket screws on the green parts to hold the front and the back together and they’d never be seen. BTW, love the avatar!

View pintodeluxe's profile


5658 posts in 2811 days

#7 posted 03-07-2016 03:34 AM

If the plywood side panels are glued in place, there shouldn’t be any strength concerns. Your side rails alone offer adequate strength without the web frames. Remember many dressers are built without any web frames, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the joint strength there. I have made web frames with biscuits, and never had any issues. I imagine stub tenons would be at least as strong as biscuits, and likely stronger.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View rwe2156's profile


2925 posts in 1478 days

#8 posted 03-07-2016 12:27 PM

I agree with pinto^.

I disagree with MM. If you put the back in a rabbet and glue it, it will never rack (I don’t think you’ll have much issue anyway). You don’t usually do floating panels with plywood, you glue them in (I’m assuming you’re putting the side panels in grooves.

Looks solid to me.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View boatz's profile


92 posts in 1649 days

#9 posted 03-07-2016 12:49 PM

I appreciate the help guys as I said this is my first so I wanted it to be right.

-- You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find, you'll get what you need

View hotbyte's profile


991 posts in 2973 days

#10 posted 03-07-2016 12:56 PM

Instead of a stub tenon on green rails, do a deeper mortise and tenon to hold the 2 side posts together. You could also set them inside the post a little to give more definition to the corner posts, don’t make face of rails flush with face of posts.

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