The Chest of Drawers Finished!

Article - September 7, 2010

Well its been 8 straight weeks of building, filming, editing, and sweating my butt off! Finally the chest of drawers is complete. Maybe picking the hottest part of the Arizona summer for one of our Guild Builds wasn’t the best idea. Oh well. It makes the victory all the sweeter!

Many of you requested more information about the epoxy fill, so let’s pick up where we left off. Once the epoxy cured overnight, I hit it with my block plane and card scraper. I wouldn’t recommend sanding the epoxy down as the heat tends to make things gummy, rendering the paper useless after only a few seconds. After the bulk of the epoxy is removed, its usually pretty safe to begin sanding the surface. I gave the board a rough sanding and a quick taste of mineral spirits just so you can see the effect of the epoxy and what it would look like with finish. You’ll also notice I have two small indentations that will need additional epoxy. That’s a quick fix.

The epoxy knot repair does a fine job of recovering what would normally be a piece of firewood. And hopefully in the photo you can see the reason why this piece is worth recovering in the first place. Look at all the beautiful swirly grain and the contrasting figure and colors! Knots generally create very interesting anomalies in the wood, and if we can stabilize and capture them, it really is a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty and power. Ok someone hand me some granola.

I was thrilled to be able to make the top out of only two boards. Because of the increased width of the boards, I decided to skip-plane them. This is a bit of a short-cut that allows you to use your planer or drum sander to flatten a board by taking very light passes and approximating flatness. You really need to start with a pretty flat board to begin with. The end result was one flat board and one slightly bowed board. So a few Dominos helped to ensure the boards were in alignment and the glue up was uneventful.

I finished the piece with General Finishes Enduro-Var. This is a water-based urethane that is quickly becoming one of my absolute favorites. I used it previously on my maple and bubinga Drill Charging Station and the finish has held up very well in the shop. Best of all, it doesn’t really look like a water-based finish to me. So I was fairly confident in using the stuff on a piece intended for my own bedroom.

One thing I have been catching a little flack for is the handles. Handles can truly make or break a piece. They are a major focal point and as a result, they can easily be overdone. Even if the handle design is perfect on its own, it may not look so great multiplied over six drawers. So its important to give the handles and pulls a significant amount of thought. Given the time-frame for the completion of this project, I didn’t have nearly enough time to follow through with all my different ideas and “experiments”. So I went with what I had so far and completed the project. These pulls (and several other prototypes) were designed and built over the course of 4-5 days. That seems like a lot of time for something as simple as drawer pulls and handles, but I could easily use 2-3 times that to really think about and work through the ideas I have in my head.

The wide pull was inspired by a piece of metal hardware I saw online. Overall I am happy with the concept although it could certainly be refined a bit. The smaller pull or knob for the top drawers is where I really struggled the most. I wanted them to stand out, but I also wanted to echo a theme from the rest of the piece. So the circular base represents the contrast and the curved boot-shaped handle is paying homage to the legs. Frankly, I am still digesting the effect and initial impression this gives the piece because I am not entirely sure it works. But I am afraid that my lack of time and need to move on to other things means that what you see is what you get. Now both my drawer pulls and handles can be removed with minimal to no damage, and if I am ever inspired and have time to do something different, it won’t be a very big deal to make the change.

The take-home message here is that subtle details can have a HUGE impact. But don’t let that intimidate you. Experiment a little, have some fun, and occasionally throw caution to the wind. Its going to be very difficult for you to discover what does work, if you never create something that doesn’t work. I am still not 100% happy with my drawer pulls and knobs and I am OK with that. I freely admit it. But I am having fun playing with different ideas and I am learning along the way. And that’s what counts in my book.

So that’s about it. The Chest of Drawers is living happily in my bedroom and is already full of clothes. Here are few pictures of the final piece and a short video advertising the Guild Build.

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