Dresser Construction Advice

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Hiya, I'm about to embark on building a dresser. I'd like to emulate this one:
http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/pk565/index.cfm?pkey=xsrd0m1%7C16%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7Cdresser&cm%5Fsrc=sch
Basically for those that don't go to the site to see it, it's a dresser with multiple drawers and appears to have 4 square legs that run from the floor to the underside of the top. Additionally, the sides and front are set back slightly from the faces of the legs. Typical chest of drawers construction would say to build a box, attach webs on the inside for the drawers, and then put a base/feet on. What's throwing me a bit is the full length legs. I'm thinking of two methods to incorporate them. Either a) mortise into the legs for the front of the webs, build the sides as panels with rails mortised into the legs adding a spacer to the back of the sides to hold the webs or b) build as a traditional box with webs and then notch the legs to set the box into. I suspect (a) is the best choice for strength but I'm wondering if others have a better idea? I hope this makes sense....it's difficult to describe via words sometimes! Thanks for the help! Cheers, cc
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http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/pk565/index.cfm?pkey=xsrd0m1%7C16%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7Cdresser&cm%5Fsrc=sch
like this. I make side panels with two legs, and then put attach the drawer "shelves" (your "webs"?) and top to the side panels with pocket screws, biscuits, or dowels. Unless I am missing something, you are making too much out of this.
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and extend to the back and hold the drawers. I'm planning on putting dust guards in them as well (prolly just 1/4 ply). I'm not planning to use pocket screws, biscuits, or dowels on this although dowels may be an option if necessary. I much prefer to do a M&T for strength. Typically dovetails are used to mount the front dividers to the front/back with the webs set in a shallow dado along the sides but with the legs standing slightly proud, that could be messy (or is it?). Thanks for the inputs. cc
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much easier and perfectly adequate.
Naturally you could use m/t; I just see they are worth the extra work, especially if they are blind as they presumably would be here.
At least I would do it all blind; seeing the tenons or dados would just be out of place.
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I made one that is slightly similar in design. I also used "full length legs" and a frame and panel sides (plywood). I used mortise and tenon construction to make the frame of the dresser, by mortising into the legs as you mentioned. I also used drawer slides to attach drawers. Maybe mine can guide you a little, maybe not. :)
http://www.garagewoodworks.com/Dresser.htm
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Stoutman
www.garagewoodworks.com
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Thanks Stout. I think that's the way I'll go. I still plan to do webs inside the "carcass" but can easily enough mortise into the front dividers for those. Cheers, cc
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On Sat, 27 Jan 2007 21:25:24 -0700, "James \"Cubby\" Culbertson"

Notch the webs to fit around the legs.
-Leuf
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wrote:

Yup. I think that's what I'm going to do. I'll M&T the front dividers into the legs and then M&T the drawer supports/web pieces into the dividers and just notch around the legs. Thanks! cc
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If you really want to save yourself a big headache, rabbett the front drawer dividers and half lap the drawer supports onto them. In the back of the dresser run a dado left-right and tenon the back of the drawer support into the dado. You can still either notch around the leg or glue a side piece onto the drawer support.
Hope this makes sense.
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See here for how I have done it.
http://www.garagewoodworks.com/pictures/DCP00615_web.jpg
Instead of nothing around the leg I glued a side piece on the drawer support. You can see the dado in the back which holds the tenon of the drawer support/guide. They are half-lapped and sit in a rabbet on the lower drawer rail.
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Thanks Stout. That method would also make it easier to set the dust panels vs. placing them into dado's. As well, it would facilitate easier placement of the drawer supports vs. ensuring my mortise/tenons are in their exact place. At this point, I've got enough of an idea to at least purchase the materials and I'll start refining the design then. Thanks for all the help. Thanks for the picture.....those definitely help! Hey, if it's any consolation, my garage, er shop looks worse than yours! Cheers, cc
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"James "Cubby" Culbertson" wrote in message

FWIW, and besides "dresser", think "sideboard/hunt board/buffet" when doing your research into structural methods, for basically this is what you are building in a traditional sense (although without the usual cabinet doors in a sideboard/buffet).
There are a world of articles and plans using various methods available for traditional "sideboards", which are traditionally wide, and which could shed a lot of light on your questions and provide some good examples. FWW's site is an excellent source. IMO, the construction of a large piece of this width is not something to take lightly if it is to last.

Traditionally, this is done with "frame and panel" sides, with the 'web frames' mortised into the legs and vertical panels. The problem is that you don't often see many of these wide pieces as "antiques" that don't have some problems due to the wood movement, particularly with sagging, racking, cracks, and drawer fit problems.
On a piece of this width you most definitely want to use M&T joinery for it to stand the "test of time", and even then, if what I've seen in doing my own research is any indication, it will be a challenge.

If you're interested in building fine furniture, this method of using "casework" with legs attached, often has an added advantage of fewer joints and better dimensional stability if done properly.
Grain orientation in the casework can all be in the same direction, greatly reducing problems with wood movement. Another benefit is that the casework can be done with a secondary wood and therefore construction can be less expensive.
There is an article along this line in Sep/Oct 99 issue of FWW entitled "Sideboard Strategies", which has some very interesting solutions to the problems inherent with pieces of this width. The method is apparently taught at a well respected woodworking school in Boston and was devised specifically to address many of the problems you see with older pieces of this size.
The method basically uses a dovetailed (dovetails in this situation are hidden so don't need to be precise) case, with vertical panels dadoed into the top and bottom (fortified with stub tenons for increased strength), and the web frames are attached to vertical panels using the same method.
The legs are attached to the casework using a dovetail into the case top, a stub tenon into the case bottom, and are additionally glued to the case sides (again, a matching long grain to long grain situation) ... strength to the max, which should resist racking for a long time to come.
The visible case sides are actually "veneered" (for want of a better term) to the casework sides and can be adjusted in both thickness, to be flush with the legs or inset a desired amount, or length, to create a stylistic effect.
In addition, there are many advantages when making/fitting your drawers.
I've been intrigued with the idea enough to just recently start a similar project using many of these ideas, which, while not a "dresser", is similar in size and scope to the picture you posted:
http://www.e-woodshop.net/Projects13.htm
If you're interested, I can e-mail you some of the particulars on the back channel.
In event good luck with this ambitious project. You're on the right track with getting as much input as possible. If done correctly it should offer a lot of satisfaction in the making.
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Thanks Swingman. Darn it, now you've got me thinking of another design :) This is good! I like the ideas you presented from the FWW article. I may have to go get that. I did purchase the "Anatomy of a Chest of Drawers" article from them to give me "inspiration" but I think I have to go get this one now. Good luck with your project. I'll be watching it with interest especially since it is very similar to what I'm doing and you're a few weeks ahead of me. Cheers, cc

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I'm nearing the end of a project like this. I chose to make the sides and the "webs" from mortise and tenon panels, with sliding dovetail joints everywhere. While I like it, it has proved to be more work than I expected.
http://www.ccsi.com/~mbrown/Woodworking/Mission_Dresser / mission_dresser.html
Michael Brown
On Jan 27, 10:25 pm, "James \"Cubby\" Culbertson"

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Thanks Mike. This is very much along the ideas I've been throwing around except the sliding dovetails for the vertical drawer supports. I was planning to dovetail them in at the front but use a dado to put the verticals in. I've done a little work with sliding dovetails and I always end up with a huge headache so I have a lot of respect for you to have pulled it off! Cheers, cc

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Lot's of ways to skin this cat.
My preference is to build the webs, sides, and back as separate assemblies and then put them all together.
I've posted tow examples to ABPW
The first examble is done with a a stopped dado (1/8" deep) cut into the side assemblies. I pocket holed from the underside.
In the second example I build the web with tennons sticking into the fron legs. The rear of the we is supported by a dado cut in the intermediate stiles of the rear panel assembly. It coulsdhave been done with mortises in the rear, but it was a really wide piece and I wanted support in the middle.
Note that the top web is a special case. It's set in with a dovetail from the top.
-Steve
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C & S, Thanks much for the ideas. The pictures were great and really help me shore up my plans. I have enough of an idea now to at least go buy the wood (yeah, it'll probably cost more than if I just bought the darned thing from Pottery Barn!). Appreciate the help! This will be my biggest piece of "fine" furniture to date and I'm really looking forward to it! Cheers, cc

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Hey Steve, Also meant to ask just how the cedar drawers hold up? I like the idea but am worried as cedar is pretty soft. I figure I could put a thin runner of maple on the bottoms of the sides but thought I'd ask how the cedar has held up. Cheers, cc

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http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/pk565/index.cfm?pkey=xsrd0m1%7C16%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7Cdresser&cm%5Fsrc=sch
I feel your pain! Before building a dresser for each of my two kids, I got a copy of Bill Hylton's book "Chests of drawers". Seven plans plus a couple of sections on case construction; still use it for reference from time to time. One possibility for the webs is to M&T the front and back rails into the legs with the interior edges of the rails flush to the edges of the legs, M&T the front-to-back guides to the rails, but offset so that the outside edge of the rail meets the panel on the inside of the case. Same idea as notching the webs as previously suggested, but a different approach to it. Option B, M&T the completed webs to the legs, front and back, and add guides attached to the panel part of the frame and panel side to help align the drawer as it opens and closes. Basically, the legs of the case support the front and back rails of the webs, which in turn support the guides. One caveat, though: if you use solid wood panels in your case, don't glue your guides to them. Bad things can happen when the wood moves in response to humidity. This would be ok with sheet good panels, though. The first dresser was made when I was still learning about woodworking (who am I kidding, I'm still learning :-) ). Frame and panel construction using plywood panels and loose tenons, store bought slides for the drawers, routed drawer lock joint for the drawers. The second dresser is the nicest thing I've built to date. Solid cherry case joined together with hand cut dovetails, traditional web frames attached to the sides with sliding dovetails, drawers built with hand cut half blind DT's. And a lot of info I got from the wreck archives on how to do it, so a big thank you to everyone who takes the time to answer questions by newbies - I would wager I've learned at least as much here as in any book I've read. And yes, dovetails DO get easier the more you do them. (I'll post some pics on a.b.p.w in a little bit.) So, enough rambling for now, but I've been lurking for quite a while and just wanted to say thanks to everyone and good luck with your dresser. Clint Johnson
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Thanks much Clint! I'm planning to do your first "possibility" I think. I've got a good enough idea for amount of woods to get and now just need to figure out a nice, long open time glue! Thanks for the help! Cheers, cc

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