Marilyn’s Chest of Drawers

Viewer Project - By Marilyn Guthrie from Seattle, WA
Added on October 30, 2010

Many of you are already familiar with the premium section of our Wood Whisperer site, The Wood Whisperer Guild. I try not to push the Guild too hard here on the free site since I realize that a paid membership immediately rules some folks out. But for those of you on the fence, I want to show you exactly what can be accomplished with the help of the Guild, even for a new woodworker. Marilyn Guthrie, a new woodworker from Seattle, took on a behemoth of a project: the Chest of Drawers. And frankly, she knocked it out of the park! It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but she took full advantage of our services to work through the problems and come out with a beautiful new dresser.

This summer, we finally finished our remodel and our attached garage. I had a shiny new space anda shiny new table saw to set up shop. Now, I just needed a project and some help figuring out how to do it. That’s when I found the Wood Whisperer Guild. Perfect!

So the project for the summer was to be a Chest of Drawers. Gulp! That’s a big project. I made a small cabinet and a tool box in a wood working class, but this was a lot more complicated. I looked over some of the videos on the Shaker Table (the previous build) and decided it looked like there was enough instruction that I could figure out how to do it, so I signed up.

Not surprisingly, as I worked along I started to encounter a few issues. When I cut the mortises in my legs, they were a little bit off. Uh oh, how do I fix that? With Marc’s help, I was able to pair up the legs and make adjustments. I continued to use the pairing suggestion even when the sides were completed and I had to cut my side guides. I was able to adjust the dado in the guides by a 32nd here and a 16th there. When it came time to install the web frames, my drawer openings were within a 16th end to end and square enough to make for smooth running drawers. Whew!

Then, oh phooey, my back dados weren’t lining up with the web frames. How am I going to make that work? One of the more important things that Marc helped me with was what to worry about and what NOT to worry about. Turned out this was a problem I could fix with some spacers. Easy pea-zzy! No worries.

Next, after running my pieces through the joiner to be glued up for drawer fronts, I couldn’t get a flat edge. My technique must be messed up, right? Nope, after some consultation, I was able to figure out that my joiner needed some fine tuning. I went to the Video Tool Set Up section on the TWW site, watched the Jointer Setup video and viola! Straight edges!

My last “issue” came when I was finishing up the drawers. Instead of putting the dado for the drawer bottom panel at ½” so that the center drawer guide would fit underneath, I put all of them at 1/4″ deep. Big bummer! What to do? So after some back and forth, we decided to abandon the center guide and go with the more conventional drawer installation approach. I fit some small pieces in at the sides and one in the middle between the small drawers. I made them really tight and then hand planed the contact points to fit snugly. Then I added some wax and had a pretty nice-fitting set of drawers.

Then, using some local expertise at Daly’s Paint, I finished with their water based Early American stain and Crystalfin. Now I’m starting work on two end tables that will use a lot of the same techniques (story stick, tenon and mortises, etc.) And guess what, I already know how to do almost all of it. Then it’s on to the Wall Cabinet Guild build. I can’t wait!


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