Suggestions for my first project

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Forum topic by James Hanna posted 09-12-2010 06:32 PM 1518 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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James Hanna

5 posts in 2983 days

09-12-2010 06:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cherry credenza hutch cabinets custom office furniture face frames cabinet drawers

I’m designing what I suppose could be called a credenza and hutch for my office. I’ve been woodworking for years but this is my first major project. I’ve worked in semi-custom cabinet shops so my knowledge is mostly based on cabinet building.

The lower section is 30” H x 20” D x 96” W. There are 3 basic sections: 2 drawer stacks left, 1 double door center, 2 drawer stacks right. Each drawer stack is 16” W ID. I’m not making the top section the same width or depth so I’m going to use a 3/4” x 20” x 96” piece of cherry ply for the top of my lower section. Everything is getting face framed with 3/4” solid cherry. Lower doors will be 2” frames with 1/4” cherry ply panel. Drawers are 3/4” solid cherry, surface mounted in relation to the face frame.

I haven’t fully designed the top yet.

My problems are as follows:

1. The stairs to my basement are not large enough to accommodate the lower section in one piece.
2. I can build the drawer stacks as individual units or paired, making 3 lower pieces or 5 depending.
3. I can’t attach the top cherry ply in one piece unless I install it like a counter top, installing it after the lower pieces are in place.
4. I can build the lowers with or without tops but in either case I still have to install the 3/4” cherry ply in one piece.
5. The design would use 1-1/2” W face frames but where sections meet that would make 3”. This throws off the symmetry, or so it would seem.
6. If I build my drawer stacks as one unit left and one unit right, the center face frame would only be 1-1/2” W but if I build them separately I’d have 3” on every butt connection and still have 1-1/2” on the left and right edges.
7. Also if I build the drawer stacks as one left and one right unit, I’m afraid that my drawer faces would be too close together.
8. I know that some of you insist on no metal guides on furniture but I’m concerned that if I use anything else that the drawers will have too much wiggle room and won’t open and close smoothly enough, making it seem like the piece is not built right.

If anyone could offer advice on any or all of the above current issues I would appreciate it. I’m new to LJ but over the past few days have read over some previous posts and would value your comments / advice / suggestions.


-- James, Manhattan, Montana

4 replies so far

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3943 days

#1 posted 09-12-2010 08:52 PM

Make full length base board unit with mounting boards in the top. Make base in three sections with mounting boards in the top of each section. Make full length top and attach it to your upper section bottom after you get it in the basement. Top section is also made in sections as well. Have the inside styles on your outer sections hang over 3/4” so your sides on the middle section goes behind the styles. Just have rails and center door board on your middle section. If you go to my projects “Built-In Wall Unit” you can see what it looks like when done this way. I would screw everything together, sand it together, finish together and then take it apart and re-assemmble it in the basement. There are pictures of credenzas and china hutches that are put together this way as well. Good Luck

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

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James Hanna

5 posts in 2983 days

#2 posted 09-13-2010 05:51 AM

I have to admit I had to read your suggestion 3 times before I understood it but I think I see it clearly now.

Again this is my first major project so my mind isn’t 100% clear on how things should be done so I think your description just threw me.

So build the bottom in 3 pieces. The face frames of the drawer stacks should be standard except the part that would be next to the center section. Make that part wider to cover the center section box once installed.

For the tops build like a kitchen cabinet, just install corner screw blocks and install top from underside.

Thanks for the ideas. Without suggestions I wouldn’t have thought of any of that.

-- James, Manhattan, Montana

View MOJOE's profile


548 posts in 3438 days

#3 posted 09-15-2010 04:46 AM

1 – If you don’t plan on moving, build your project in the room it is intended

2 – For simplicity, try 3 pieces

3 – Building in its intended room would allow for a 1 piece top

4 – See 3

5 – I am a stickler for symmetry, so I would suggest keeping all portions of your face frame the same width…just pay close attention to any overhangs to keep things even

6 – See 5

7 – Pay close attention to your overhangs, if you draw everything out, you can make all your overhangs (drawers and doors) match and keep good symmetry throughout…..shoot for an inch of space between all, and see how it looks

8 – I don’t see the issue with metal hardware, but if your runners were wood and supported the drawers from the bottom, the runners from the next drawer up would help contain the lower and keep things from moving around too much

Sorry these are rather short and to the point, I always find that it works best to draw things out over and over until they work on paper, then transfer these ideas to you work piece and make any adjustments…...good luck.

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

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James Hanna

5 posts in 2983 days

#4 posted 09-15-2010 07:01 PM

I had planned on building it all in my garage then assembling it in the basement in sections with a single top piece, making the top rail of the face frames 3/4” taller than the boxes to cover the plywood edge since I’ll be using a 3/4” cherry ply top. I guess dragging my air hose downstairs is something I just have to do.

The lower section as I’ve drawn it in Sketchup is in 3 sections.

If I do 3” wide stiles that leaves a huge section on the outer edge. I suppose I could shim it up but that seems like a waste of plywood. Maybe if I make 1-1/2” stiles on the far left and right and 3” everywhere else, it will be symmetrical.

I’m still considering the wood runners but I’d like the drawers to move as if they were on ball bearing guides. Those guides aren’t cheap and with 16 drawers that’s expensive.

That brings up another point: with 4 sections of drawer stacks, 30” H, would it be better to do 1 drawer on each for files, say 10” H, or should I make all the drawers around 4 or 5” H? This is basically an office now that I’ve remodeled it without a closet, there’s a structured wiring panel on the wall (that I’m covering up with this project) and there’s no egress window so I’d imagine that anyone that buys this house from me would use it as an office so I’d think file drawers would work but I just don’t know. That would cut down my drawer guide needs though. This drawer thing has been bugging me since I started on this project.

-- James, Manhattan, Montana

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