Chest of Drawers

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Forum topic by Mars72 posted 09-03-2010 04:12 PM 1304 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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33 posts in 3251 days

09-03-2010 04:12 PM

I know this has been asked before. But after reading as much as I could find, I still can’t decide.

My wife has asked that I make two, matching chest’s of drawers for our bedroom. Naturally, I said “I can do that”. I am not so worried about the doing as I am about how to do it. Meaning, which method is better, frame and Panel, Solid Wood, or some flavor of Laminate, ie mdf or plywood.

Some of the folks I have talked to swear that laminated mdf is strong and stable, though heavy. I know the furniture pieces I have looked at are all mdf. However, I question the strength issue. I have thrown away lots of cheep particle board furniture after moving them once or twice because they just fall apart.

I love the thought of Solid wood. Cost is a factor though. I also worry about expansion / contraction.

Frame and Panel is intriguing to me. Light, stable, attractive. What about strength?

Love to get your opinions. Share pictures of projects if you have them.

-- I usually try the hard way 2 or 3 times before finding the easy way.

4 replies so far

View lew's profile


12060 posts in 3754 days

#1 posted 09-03-2010 05:13 PM

After watching “Norm” for years, it would seem a combination of frame and plywood panels might be the middle of the road as far as choice.

Like you, I really like solid wood construction. As far as the expansion/contraction issue, careful consideration of cross grain situations should eliminate most of these problems. As you mentioned, solid wood pieces will last forever. Also, for what it’s worth, good plywood isn’t cheap either, but it does make the entire process go faster.

Just my 2ยข

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5861 posts in 3193 days

#2 posted 09-03-2010 05:36 PM

Greetings Mars72,

Frame and panel…....that’s how I’d build it….. But….if you decide to go that route, stay away from the
crappy plywood from Lowes and Home Depot…..That Chinese ply is pure junk…awful stuff, but I’d bet you already know that like we all do…. I buy my ply at my local lumberyard, good stuff, and American made.
It runs about the same price as the other crap, but much better quality…...Building 2 c.o.d. in solid wood will set you back a bunch of loot…..But….it’s all in what you want to do…The choice is yours…Go for it…..

edit: I’d also stay away from MDF in building nice furniture…I only use MDF for jigs and fixtures, but that’s me.

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View Mars72's profile


33 posts in 3251 days

#3 posted 09-03-2010 06:22 PM

Some one has given me a bunch of quartersawn oak. The biggest piece is 17” x 10’. Wife doesn’t like oak though. I think I will go the frame and panel rout. that gives me more options with veneers on the ply. I like Cherry frame with a nice figured maple.

-- I usually try the hard way 2 or 3 times before finding the easy way.

View gerrym526's profile


274 posts in 3807 days

#4 posted 09-04-2010 03:24 PM

I’ve built with frame and panel construction-both 1/4 plywood panels and solid wood panels. If the frame/internal webbing for the chest of drawers is constructed properly (see a furniture building book for this) strength is not an issue-weight definitely is when building with solid wood. Wood movement is not an issue if you allow 1/8 in the frame holding the panel for expansion/contraction. Or get “space balls” from rockler.
I have a mahogony chest of drawers about 70 yrs old built with frame and panel construction that’s very light and easy to move. Your wife will thank you for light construction when she wants to change the furniture arrangement of the room-my wife always does at least once every other year in a room !
Hope this helps.

-- Gerry

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