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Dresser Base Mistake?

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Forum topic by GeoffKatz posted 09-08-2016 05:58 PM 327 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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GeoffKatz

24 posts in 463 days


09-08-2016 05:58 PM

Hello All,

I’m currently building a cherry dresser from an original design (this was possibly unwise…), and I think I might have made a mistake that will force me to change things in a way I don’t want. I’ll try to explain.

Basically, thinking only that I wanted seamless side edges where the sides and back meet the bottom panel, my design has the dresser bottom sitting flush with the bottom edges of the sides and bottom, rather than those three sitting on top of the bottom panel. This all seemed okay in Sketchup, but now that I have giant 1-by panels glued up and cut to size, I realize that the significant weight of the piece won’t be borne by the strength of the bottom panel, but will live entirely on the fasteners (I plan to use screws here, only because I need to be able to take the dresser apart to move it around).

My options seem to me to be limited to shrinking the width and depth of the final unit to the size of my cut-down base, which means I lose a few inches and have to revise my drawer scheme, living with a bunch of dangerous stress on screws and possible collapse/cracking, or finding a magical fastener that will transfer the side loads to the bottom piece.

Any thoughts would be welcome, as I’m pretty frustrated with my mistake. The material is a bit pricey to cut a new base with the extra size, although that’s obviously the best option money notwithstanding.


11 replies so far

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1833 days


#1 posted 09-08-2016 06:35 PM

Not sure I’m following the description 100%, can you post a picture of the design?

Will the sides be resting on the floor, or on a base with feet? If so, it shouldn’t be a problem as the load will be transferred to the floor, just as it would be to the bottom piece, if it were resting on it.

I’m guessing that, since you’re concerned, the sides and back don’t go all the way to the floor, and the bottom has a base under it, or feet? How are you screwing the sides to the bottom? Something like pocket screws through the bottom, or screwing in from the outside?

It sounds like this bottom won’t be seen…you could take a secondary wood, or plywood, depending on what your bottom material is, and make a new bottom, larger than your original one. Or, if for some reason you need to keep your bottom pieces, laminate this new piece to the bottom (glue/screws), and you essentially have a double-thick bottom, with a rabbeted edge. Rout a matching rabbet or dado in your sides, to accept the new bottom. Your load will be transferred to the bottom.

But, again, pictures would help.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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GeoffKatz

24 posts in 463 days


#2 posted 09-08-2016 07:24 PM

Thanks for the response. Unfortunately I’m not able to post pictures at the moment. My base will have short legs, so the sides and back don’t go all the way to the ground. I was planning on attaching the sides/back to the base with pocket screws.

I’m sorry I’m not better able to describe the setup—basically instead of the sides/back resting on the face of my base panel, they are designed to sit outside the base panel. Adding a sub-base to my existing base did cross my mind, but I worry it will spoil the look.

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GeoffKatz

24 posts in 463 days


#3 posted 09-08-2016 07:32 PM

Here is a rough sketch of what I mean—I did “A” instead of “B” with my dimensioned pieces. One other thought just occurred to me—I could bury some angle-brackets in shallow insets, to try to take the weight of the piece into the bottom. A lot more work, but maybe it would work out? If it was a plain cabinet I think it would be okay, but my design uses 1 inch thick cherry and the weight will be considerable.

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

626 posts in 1416 days


#4 posted 09-08-2016 07:52 PM

Why not cut a rabbet in the sides for the base to extend into? All you care about on the sides is the look so the rabbet could be quite deep. It could easily be done blind on the front and back so the end result would look exactly like your “A” drawing.

Yes, this requires making a new longer (and deeper to go into a rabbet on the back as well) base piece, but that is the only new material you would need.

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GeoffKatz

24 posts in 463 days


#5 posted 09-08-2016 08:03 PM

Yeah, if I end up making a new piece a rabbetted edge for the sides does make sense. I was just hoping there would be a method to keep my mistaken “A” version strong enough for use so I could keep the piece I already made. Since this beast is fairly long and deep, the amount of material cost is not insignificant.

Anyone have opinions on a double mated rabbet, like this image I found, for overall strength? It would mean shortening my piece, but by 1 inch total instead of 2 (my material is 1 inch thick).

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1833 days


#6 posted 09-08-2016 08:05 PM

If that bottom piece is solid cherry, and the front edge will be exposed, I would either make a new bottom piece or…cut an inch or so wide strip off the bottom, make a new base out of a secondary wood like poplar, glue that strip of cherry on, and cut a stopped rabbet in the sides, so all but the front inch or so of the sides rests on the bottom, and the last inch or so goes all the way down. Using a secondary wood is, and has been a common practice for case parts that won’t get seen, so don’t sweat it. Are you avoiding making a new bottom from cherry due to the cost?

Photo-realistic picture of new bottom :

If you made a new pieces, could the old bottom be used to make a drawer side or something? Worst case, you have some cherry for another project.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

626 posts in 1416 days


#7 posted 09-08-2016 08:18 PM



Yeah, if I end up making a new piece a rabbetted edge for the sides does make sense. I was just hoping there would be a method to keep my mistaken “A” version strong enough for use so I could keep the piece I already made. Since this beast is fairly long and deep, the amount of material cost is not insignificant.

Anyone have opinions on a double mated rabbet, like this image I found, for overall strength? It would mean shortening my piece, but by 1 inch total instead of 2 (my material is 1 inch thick).

If you are willing to lose the length just go with a rabbet that will accept the entire thickness of the base piece. It would give maximum strength. The joinery in your picture looks like it would fail by splitting along the grain from the corner of the rabbet on what would be the base piece.

- GeoffKatz


View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4030 posts in 1815 days


#8 posted 09-08-2016 09:05 PM

Instead of feet, you can put the cabinet on a plinth that way the weight is transferred from the sides to the floor.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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GeoffKatz

24 posts in 463 days


#9 posted 09-08-2016 11:18 PM

Thanks everybody. Some really helpful advice here. I think I’ll sacrifice the two inches and move everything in over the base. And maybe, just maybe, learn something for next time. No promises.

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4169 posts in 3206 days


#10 posted 09-09-2016 12:59 PM

if this were a light duty case – i think your rabbet would be ok

But the load inside all the drawers is going to be only carried by the tongue of that rabbet.

The wood itself can be strong but depends on span… suspect that as long as the ‘feet’ are close to the rabbet you may be ok.
if not, the weight of the dresser will work to slip the bottom at “rabbet depth’

can you maybe either make a tapered foot that comes under the rabbet – or place the foot so it is under the joint to carry the load to the floor?

Just thinking out loud

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

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GeoffKatz

24 posts in 463 days


#11 posted 09-09-2016 01:46 PM

My feet can go anywhere really, so placing them close to the sidewalls makes sense. Now that I’ve built the panels and see how much they weigh (even leaving aside the yet-unbuilt drawers), I’ve already decided to move the legs outward from my initial sketch and add a fifth center leg as well. This thing will be 60” wide and I really don’t want it collapsing.

After a lot of consideration, I think it’s safest and best to just sacrifice the 2 side-inches (and one depth-inch) and push everything in over the base panel. The unit is long enough, so its not a huge functional change, the main annoyance is refactoring all my drawer dimensions. But since I haven’t cut them yet, that’s okay, more sketchup practice.

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