Stickley 913 Dresser: Attaching the top?

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Forum topic by RipFence posted 03-17-2014 11:48 PM 1300 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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77 posts in 2718 days

03-17-2014 11:48 PM

Hello All:
I am in the process of building a Stickley 913 replica dresser like the ones show in these links:

I am nearly ready to assemble the case but I find myself obsessing over how to attach the top. My version uses solid sides and a solid top so movement should be similar. The reason the top attachment is tricky is because there is no upper web frame in this design. I am currently considering three options.
1. Use plain old steel corner brackets like these I would inset them into the side and top so they don’t protrude. This would allow the use of lots of screws. Also, should anything happen between now and say 200 years from now, the top could be reattached in a similar way. I realize this is not very elegant but it could be very strong and easy to repair.
2. Use pocket screws as shown in this image by TreeFrogFurniture:
This makes me nervous in terms of really long term durability. I’m imagining some future boyfriend of a granddaughter yanking the top off the screws when trying to load it into the trunk of a car. If something catastrophic like that happened it would be very difficult to repair and I might not be around to do it.
3. Use loose tenon joinery through the top and into the top of the legs. This would allow me to use a through tenon like those on my Morris chairs. That detail would not be in agreement with the original Harvey Ellis design of course but it would be pretty robust, especially if I pinned it with a dowel. I would finish it off as a wedged tenon and cut it flush so that it would not be too much of a departure from the original Ellis design.

So, those of you with lots of dresser building experience, please give me your thoughts on these options or others I haven’t considered. I’d be particularly interested to hear from LumberJocks members Dorran, Ken, Mark Mazzo and/or John Everett about how they attached their tops.

Thanks in advance,

2 replies so far

View AandCstyle's profile


3073 posts in 2282 days

#1 posted 03-18-2014 12:44 AM

How about using a bunch of figure eight fasteners? You don’t need them to allow for wood movement, but they will do the job. If you use enough of them your GD’s boyfriend will not rip the top off the dresser.

P.S. They are available from other vendors as well and may be lower cost.

-- Art

View RipFence's profile


77 posts in 2718 days

#2 posted 03-18-2014 12:56 AM

Thanks AandCstyle. I had thought about using those but realized I would still be screwing into the end grain of the sides.
Now that I think about it, I could dowel into the sides then screw down into the dowel which would give me cross grain.
The sides are 13/16 thick so I could easily have a half inch or maybe 5/8 of dowel to screw into is I used a forstner. In fact, I could go ahead and have the dowel go all the way through and just finish it flush.
Rout a relief into the bottom of the top.
Hmmm…. I like it.

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