Next lesson on my woodworking path

June 1, 20152 Comments

Continuing along the path of retracing my woodworking past I want to share the next project I tackled shortly after I built my wife’s lingerie chest of drawers, which was one for my mother-in-law (although I prefer to just refer to it as her chest of drawers.)

This one was a lot like the previous project (the design was very similar just wider) but for whatever reason I decided to experiment with a few details. Not so much details on the outside, as they are ones that involve the construction process.

As before, the material of choice was 1x home center pine and plywood (remember, I didn’t own a thickness planer or jointer at the time so rough lumber wasn’t an option.)

I wish I could remember the reason why but for this project I decided to skip building the drawer frames like I had previously and instead opted to attach the front/rear drawer rails directly into the sides.

To do this I routed what was essentially a mortise into each side and then created a matching tenon on the ends of the drawer rails and glued them in position (notice the extra wood putty to make it all blend together?)

The other construction feature I experimented with on this project was the addition of drawer glides to keep the drawer boxes centered and moving smoothly.

They’re about as simple as you can possibly make them, but it was such a radical idea in my mind I couldn’t help but get excited about them, and amazingly they actually work really well even today.

By this point, as is obvious, I was still using plywood for the drawer box construction. Except instead of trying to hide the plys under veneer tape I decided to start embracing the look and instead opting to roundover the edges to soften them.

Rounded over plys

Much to my surprise then (and now) I started to make strides with my crappy router and the even crappier dovetail jig. This time I managed to not break off the surface layers of the plywood and created joints that fit together rather nicely.

As you can see in the pictures above, I apparently started with a larger dovetail template and then switched to a smaller version (it would be another few years before I’d discover handcut dovetails.)

Also evident in the pictures is how the home center pine eventually cupped as it continued to dry, but the good news is that the dovetails held it all together.

Just like with my wife’s reaction to her chest of drawers my mother-in-law’s was very similar. Even today when I see it during our visits I always suggest building her something different and she balks at the idea.

I’m happy I had the opportunity to build it for her, and even happier that she enjoyed receiving it. The lessons I learned were invaluable and would help me as I moved on with other bigger and more complicated projects that I’ll share in upcoming posts.

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  1. jHop says:

    It’s stuff like this that I still recommended new woodworkers check out home centers. I know there’s a bit of snobbery in woodworking, that says you aren’t a “real woodworker” unless you cut down the tree you planted and then hand planed the board to build furniture from it… But there are benefits to starting at the home center.

    People forget you can make good projects if you take your time and really try, regardless of where you started. Thank you for proving we all have greatness within.

  2. Harvey says:

    Jhop I totally agree and it’s funny because anyone who makes any project of wood is a wood worker. People seem to be out to make fun of newbies and not take them by the hand.

    As for the article I like the large dovetail as well 🙂

    I’m new to your blog but I’m not going anywhere because you are a great teacher and great writer.

    Thanks buddy

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