Building a Deal Dresser (In a Hurry): Part 4

The jack plane tote is intact again, and I ended up giving the glue about a month to cure. I am now in my 9th month of pregnancy, so I get tired easily and can’t do a whole lot of active woodworking in a given day, so progress, when it does occur, is at a snail’s pace.  Meanwhile, my children all enjoy examining my work.

Drawer #3 went together pretty quickly, but due to a ridiculous amount of rain, a husband out of town, and sick children, I was unable to cut the bottom for it for over two weeks. So it lingered in a half-finished form on top of the rest of the dresser until one evening when all the children were playing happily. As soon as I started cutting the plywood to size, my 16 month old child crawled under my sawbench and tried to grab the saw as it went up and down. Thankfully, all that happened was a small bump on her head as she was being extracted from under the sawbench.

I had high hopes for drawer #4: I knew that the width of the board I had for that drawer was exactly the right height for the front of said drawer. So I started laying out the dovetails. Then I realized that in order for the drawer to fit on the runners, I was going to have to rip down both sides and the back because the drawer front has a lip that drops down to cover the runners. Ripping wood does not rank high on my list of fun woodworking activities, especially given my poor sawing skills. But my husband had just gotten me my own saw – a 22” Diston 7 panel saw (6ppi) that he converted to rip for me. I had been complaining that his rip saw (a 28″ Diston 12) was too big for me to handle, and don’t even get me started on my thoughts about the really well-worn Disston #8 skewback in our collection. So this was the perfect opportunity for me to give my new saw a good workout. Much to my surprise, it really didn’t take me long at all to rip and plane the drawer pieces to the right size. Apparently using a tool that is the right size for both the job and the person really makes a big difference.

After re-doing the layout lines for my dovetails, I started in. And this is what I found:

I don’t think the knots will compromise the integrity of the joint, but they made it very difficult to cut the joint accurately.

At this point, I was so ready to be finished with this project. I bought the wood back in March, so that means I’ve been working on it off and on for about 3 months. One drawer to go, and I had no energy or desire to even start working on it again, let alone finish it. This is my deepest drawer, which means that it has the most dovetails. But my type-A personality won’t let me give up easily. So I went ahead and started in on the drawer. The dovetails went together very quickly on this one, which means, hypothetically, that I’m getting better at cutting them. One would hope, after 116 dovetails on this project, that I would be.

I dry-fitted the pieces of the drawer, and left it overnight. The next day, I took it apart, and it had warped, and when I used my mallet to tap it out, the board cracked all the way around, but not all the way through. I was in tears, so my husband took pity on me and helped me glue the board. He also made a trim for the top of my dresser to cover my not-so-pretty dovetails while we waited for the glue to dry.

Finally, all 5 drawers were finished, but needed planing to move smoothly. By this time, we were 36 hours out from leaving for a month-long trip, and I am 37 weeks pregnant. I decided that I could still call it my project done if I let my husband finish planing the last 3 drawers to fit smoothly. So I sharpened tools and started packing the van while he finished the planing.

I still need to cut and install the dust panels between the drawers and put a plinth on the bottom before I paint it and add the drawer pulls, but technically, it is usable as it is.

Happy Mama that all the dovetails are cut before baby arrives!

Approximate outside dimensions are 4’ tall, 16” deep, and 32” wide. The top 2 drawers are about 8 inches tall, and the bottom drawer is about 12 inches tall. The middle drawers are between those two depths.

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6 Responses to Building a Deal Dresser (In a Hurry): Part 4

  1. Manni says:

    You are a true inspiration! The not so beautiful dovetails will hold together long enough for your grandchildren to put the chess to good use themselves. More to the point, the proportions of your chest seem dead on and make for a very elegant piece despite (or is it because?) it’s simplicity.

    All the best for the last weeks of pregnancy.

    Manni.

  2. Paul B says:

    Family history! Please hide a print of that last photo inside the carcass someplace.

  3. Pete Chast says:

    And sign and date the back… Your grandchildren will be proud to know that You did it.

  4. Everybody needs a deadline!
    We painted our soon-to-be child’s room when my wife was 9-months pregnant. Each wall has a them of Keith Harring characters. I insisted that we could only do one wall at a time incase the baby came early. We got all but one wall done–11 years later the wall is still blank!
    Well done and I hope all goes well with the new one! (not the dresser, the baby!)

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