Not long ago I made a wide dresser for my girlfriend.
This dresser came out awesomely, and I was proud of myself for successfully making something with drawers.
Once I finished that dresser I began working on a tall dresser for myself. Like almost all of my furniture, I started out making plans in Google SketchUp.
...but I put that project on hold for a few weeks. That is until I received an inheritance - some wood shelves that my grandfather made - he too was a woodworker.
His skill was above my own, and I noticed he used dado cuts (grooves) in his work to support shelves.
I had been reluctant to make such cuts in my woodworking since I did not have a table saw with a dado blade.
However, my grandfather didn't have such tools in the 60's when he made his shelves, so I researched. I found out how to make dadoes using my router.
I enjoyed this so much I made a easy Dado cutting guide out of a piece of thin plywood. This piece helps me determine the distance between the fence and my dado cut.
I now had a guide and some knowledge on how to make dadoes and stronger furniture. So I went out and bought some material.
Instead of using sheets of 2-foot by 4-foot particleboard like I did for the wide dresser, I decided to buy sheets of 8-foot by 4-foot plywood and have the people at the hardware store cut the sheets into 2-foot by 4-foot pieces.
Once I bought my material home I began cutting the pieces of wood to size using my table saw.
I cut the sides.
Then I cut the shelves using my circular saw.
Then I took the 2 sides and marked where each dado cut will be.
Then using my new dado cutting guide and a clamping straight edge....
....I was able to successfully cut dadoes.
I used a 3/4" straight dado bit on my router. This was the thickness of the wood I was using. The shelves fit in the dado perfectly.
I only messed up one dado, but it's not so bad.
After a while I had both sides cut with dadoes.
I then made a dry-fit of all the pieces (not using screws, nails or glue). It fit together perfectly...
...so I applied glue to all the dadoes.
I used clamps to hold everything together.....
....and I used my brad nailer on all the dadoes.
I drew lines with my T-Square showing me where all the dadoes were on the outside of the sides. This made it easy to know where to nail from the outside.
Once completely nailed, I flipped the dresser upside down and glued & nailed small pieces of 2x4's to add extra support on the bottom corners.
I then added some extra support by drilling and screwing in screws to each shelf.
This thing is solid!
Next I began to add on the face frame. My plans had the actual measurements, but I decided to do this by lining up the frame pieces to the dresser, marking them...
...then cutting them with the miter saw.
It didn't take long to cut all the pieces for the frame.
For my wide dresser I connected the frame using pocket holes and screws. This caused some problems when that frame was attached to that dresser - a lot of things didn't level out correctly. For this dresser I'm going the easy route. I glued/nailed the sides on, then did the same for the middle pieces.
Every shelf and side is level!
With the carcass of the dresser more-or-less done, I decided to start making the drawers. This part was exciting for me because it was the first time I got to use my table saw sled - which I had made over a month ago.
All the pieces cut nicely. These were made out of the same plywood since I now had so much of the stuff.
Like the drawers on my other dresser, these were assembled using pocket holes and screws.
This time my drawers have an back that is a lot taller than the other sides. This tall side will keep the drawer from leaning downwards when the drawer is fully extended from the dresser.
With the 4 sides of one drawer complete and fitting correctly, I proceeded with making the rest.
With the drawers complete I began cutting tracks for the drawers out of scrap wood.
These tracks will keep the drawers from moving from side-to-side inside the dresser.
Once I had all the tracks cut, I applied liquid nails and put them in place. Then I left it alone for a while to dry.
While it was drying I started work on the drawer fronts.
I drew the center points for each drawer fronts and made marks for where the handles will be attached.
Using my table saw sled, I cut out all the drawer fronts.
I drilled holes for the handles.
I used those holes to attach the drawer fronts to my work table.
This makes it easy to use the router on the edges.
Next I sanded the top of the dresser to make it level for the dresser top.
The top was made using another leftover piece of plywood.
This piece is too big to use on the table saw, so I need to use my circular saw.
I then saw a great opportunity to make a guide for my circular saw. I made this the same way as I made my guide for the router: I set up my fence, then screwed a piece of thin plywood to the board underneath. I marked the fence and cut lines...
...then I simply cut away!
I unscrewed the new guide, made a bigger hole in the center, and hung it up on the wall with my router guide.
With the table top cut to size, I attached it to the dresser.
I routed the edges.
Then I applied wood filler to all the areas that needed it.
Believe it or not, everything above took one day to do. I stopped for the night. The next morning I started work on finishing the shelves. For this I used some 1/4" plywood for the drawer bottoms.
I used my table and circular saw to cut the pieces to size.
Then I glued and nailed the bottoms to the rest of the drawers.
Soon all 4 drawers had bottoms.
The cuts for the bottoms of each drawer are slightly larger than the drawers themselves. This was done intentionally.
To make everything even I used a flush trimming bit on my router.
The router bit levels all the sides of the drawer bottoms.
And all the drawers fit nicely into the dresser.
Next I began to attach the drawer faces to the drawers...
...after attaching 2 fronts, I realized that they were too tall, so I trimmed them with the table saw.
I used my router to make the newly cut edges match the other routed edges.
Since the cuts to the drawer fronts made them shorter, I needed to readjust the positions of the 2 drill holes for the handles.
Then I attached the faces to the drawers....
...and put them in place.
I redrilled the holes for the handles...
...and attached the hardware. This thing looks great!
Next came copious amounts of sanding.
The drawers were also sanded.
Next I removed the handles and gave everything a good cleaning. I put the piece on a tarp and then I added stain to the dresser and the drawers.
I wiped away excess stain and let everything dry for a few hours.
Then I added polyurethane.
When the poly dried, I reattached the handles.
At the end of the second day the polyurethane was still a bit tacky, so I let it sit in the garage overnight.
Day 3 comes along and the dresser is completely dry. I used some very fine sandpaper to smooth out the dried polyurethane. I used my random orbital sander for all the flat areas...
...and some sandpaper wrapper around a block to get the small corners.
Finally, I brought it into my bedroom next to the other dresser I built.
And I'm done!
The 2 dresser match in color and style!
The drawers are big enough to fit most of my clothes.
And I can fit shoes on the bottom shelf.
All-in-all I am super happy with both the dressers!
My bedroom was the last to receive new furniture. Now it has 2 new pieces that are strong and durable and will last for many, many years! Soon I will have to make some matching night stands and a head board - but those are entries for another day.
Thanks for reading!