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Frame and panel chest of drawers - joinery choices?

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Forum topic by diito posted 08-03-2014 07:09 PM 912 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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diito

17 posts in 317 days


08-03-2014 07:09 PM

I’m building my first frame and panel dresser/changing table out of solid wood (cherry) soon. I’ve done plywood case goods and dividerless solid wood case goods before which was at lot less challenging than this will be. I’m in the phase of figuring out all the jointery I’m going to use and have lots of questions:

Overall dimensions for this will be ~ 50” wide x 36” high x 20” deep. I’m planning on 5 drawers, 3 full length on the bottom and two with a vertical divider on the top. For the legs/top I bought some 8/4. The design/look I’m going for is a shorter version of this:

How would you guys tackle the joinery/assembly order on this?

Drawer dividers I’m thinking either a stopped sliding dovetail joint, or a double tenon (to maximize long grain on long grain glue surface) would be best. Ease of construction is a factor too though. If I do stopped sliding dovetails first I think I’ll have to assemble the front/back first, rather than the sides, otherwise I won’t be able to get my runners in place? How would you build the web frame? Is a dust panel really necessary or just a nice to have? Drawer guides yes/no and where?

Any tips on how you’d approach this would be helpful.


7 replies so far

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jdh122

400 posts in 1542 days


#1 posted 08-03-2014 09:49 PM

Here’s a link to a free article by Becksvoort that I think will answer most of your questions or at least that provides one, classic, approach to doing the joinery. I built a modified version of it and it worked really well, just scale it to your project:

http://www.finewoodworking.com/item/35240/free-plan-cherry-chest-of-drawers

BTW, not sure why you refer to “frame and panel” – are you planning to make the sides with a floating panel in a frame, perhaps?

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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bandit571

7334 posts in 1408 days


#2 posted 08-04-2014 12:20 AM

Used to build a Frame & Panel Chest of drawers…a LOT of them. Sides had two corner posts, connecting to a series of rails, and thin panels. Add in a face frame out front. A frame for the top housed a plywood panel, set flush. Frame on top also had mitered corners.

As for that divider between the top drawers. Think in terms of an upside down T. The _ part served as runners for the two drawers. The I part served to seperate them. Sometimes just a 3/4” wide one would do. most of the times, it was a wider block fastened onto the “T” , since I used 3/4 overlay drawer fronts.

Face frame had a 2” wide piece across the top, as the overlay would hide 3/4” of it. Te bottom piece was around 5” and scalloped. Got so I could build a five drawer chest of drawers in a weekend.

Dust frames? I used them as a way to let the drawers move in or out, with a 1×1 kicker above each drawer. No dust panels were used.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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jdh122

400 posts in 1542 days


#3 posted 08-04-2014 11:56 AM

oops, the plan I suggested won’t really work with frame-and-panel sides, at least not without substantial modifications…

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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diito

17 posts in 317 days


#4 posted 08-04-2014 02:32 PM

Yeah, it wouldn’t. I’ve done lots of box construction before, this is totally different. Normally I figure this stuff out by looking at higher quality commercially made stuff to get some ideas. I have a nice solid wood frame and panel dresser at home that I’ve pulled all the drawers out to try and figure out. The drawer runners aren’t attached to the sides, they are mortised into the drawer dividers. I expected to have to do the same, all the connections will need to be made at the legs (frame) somehow. Unfortunately I can’t tell how they did that but but it definitely looks like some sort of mortise as well. There isn’t a ton of meat there with the dividers to get a lot of glue surface and they’ll need to hold the whole thing together.

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jdh122

400 posts in 1542 days


#5 posted 08-04-2014 03:16 PM

Does this help:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to-plans/woodworking/1273366

They have you making a kind of frame on each side that the runner/divider assemblies (m+t joints on these) sit on. Means the legs need to have part of them cut away on the part you don’t see. I’d probably leave hte legs square and attach the runner/dividers pieces to the legs with a stopped dado.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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bandit571

7334 posts in 1408 days


#6 posted 08-04-2014 04:22 PM

Ok, try this:
the frames around each small panel is where the web frame goes. You can even just drill a couple holes into the edges of the web frames, and screw the frames in place. One could, if they really need to, have a rebate around the top edge of the webframes, and drop a thin dust panel in place, AFTER the web frames are in place. A few beads of glue to fix the dust panels in place.

YMMV, but:

I make the two sides first. Rails fit into a 3/4” rebate, with a spot of glue, and a couple nails, NOT screws. Then a few piece of thin panels go between the rails ( I used plywood for these) again a bead of glue and some brads. Check for square, and set aside.

Web frames: I make mine out of 2x stock ( as in a 2×4) that is ripped into 3/4” thick by 1-3/8’’ wide “sticks> The front/back ones get a groove down the center line on one edge. The ends have no grooves, just a matching tenon. Assemble a frame with glue and brads, add a hardwood kicker for the drawer that will be going in under the frame. I make one web frame for above the top drawer(s) with a kicker. Bottom frame get two kickers, more for strength than anything else.

Face frame: Wood that matches the sides. I tend to keep my web frame inset by the thickness of the face frame boards. Usually just a 1×2 Screwed to the front of the webframe. Glued to the webframe, plugs cover the screws. No end grain shows.

Top: I made a 4/4 frame from 2x stock. Ends are a full 3-1/2 wide. Front/back is a 2×2 square. Miter the ends of the front and back. Lay them onto the end pieces, and mark out where to remove the waste. Layout a 3/4” wide rebate, about the thickness of whatever ply you have for the top panel. This will leave a large flat area on each end. Set the areas right over each corner post, drill a pilot hole for a long screw. Attach the top’s frame. Then glue in the top’s panel. Small brads to help clamp the panel in place. When the glue is done, drive the nails down, and cover them.

Drawers: to each their own, here. I usually make mine as a 3/4 overlay. Just the sides and the top edge get a rebate. Bottom stays flat. I usually dovetail the fronts to the sides, but set the back in a dado. 1/4” Luann plywood works nicely for drawer bottoms. I use screws to fasten the bottom to the back, rather than rely on nails to stay put.

Note: IF the top drawer is split into two drawers, I build the webframes as a unit around them. I can then add a cover piece to the face frame via half-lap joints, and glue.

Note #2: I try to keep the inside of the chest as flush as I can, no need for guides that way. I do add guide rails to the top drawers.

Any other questions? IF all the materials were on hand on a saturday morning, I could have things ready for final sanding that evening. Maybe 12 hours total….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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Richard Hillius

146 posts in 405 days


#7 posted 08-04-2014 04:36 PM

There are a lot of ways to handle this and I think it depends on the tools at your disposal and how much time you want to spend on it. The first question I would ask is do I want a separate frame that’s attached or build it as part of the case? If you build it as part of the case you would attach the horizontal pieces to your dust frames/shelves than fit the front rails to them. You could either biscuit them to the dividers between drawers or just face glue them on. If you do it as a separate assembly and attach it you can use butt joints, pocket screws, mortise and tenon (loose or fixed), dado, dowels, dovetail, etc. etc. Just keep in mind that’s a very visible spot where the rails and stiles come together around the drawers so you want a joint you can reproduce tightly.

Making mortise and tenon joints doesn’t scare me but for face frames I tend to lean towards pocket screws because it’s fast, produces really good joints and is plenty strong enough for a face frame attached to a case like that. I would rather spend my time creating dovetail drawers or panel doors than face frames that people will only notice if it’s not right.

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