Monthly Archives: March 2010

Thomas Walnut Dresser: Assembly Begins!

I’m pretty excited after this week, I definitely feel like I’ve turned a corner on this project. Today I assembled the web frames together into a sub assembly.


Here’s a view from the top – yes I was standing on my bench. From left to right: top web frame, drawer divider, middle web frame, drawer divider, bottom web frame. If you look closely at the left edge of the leftmost web frame you can see the dados for the drawer dividers for the top bank of drawers. Those will have matching dadoes in the top of the dresser.



Here you can see the sides clamped on as well. Woodworkers always say you can never have enough clamps, well there are 13 clamps on this thing right now. This glue up was a real pain as a one man job, but taking it a subassembly at a time, using a glue with good open time (and plenty of it), and doing a dry fit and clamp rehearsal helped. Everything is pretty square so far. Next I’ll set it up and start to trim it out. I might not put the top on until the drawers are all installed – might as well make it easy for myself.

Here’s one trick: I don’t just have this sitting on the clamps because there isn’t enough surface area to keep it from falling through the bars. It would be a ballet of frustration trying to get that to work. I glued this with the front face down because the bottom is not flush with the web frames. So, I needed a surface that ran perpendicular to the clamping bars to support the project and give the fronts a flat face to register against. If you look really closely, it’s probably easier to see on the right side of the picture, the piece is resting on a strip of ply wood that lays across all the clamping bars. To keep that piece from sticking to the glue it has a generous coat of beeswax on it.

Take the time to do the little things that will save you a lot of frustration. Doing those little helpful things doesn’t slow you down in the long run, makes your hobby more enjoyable, and your projects turn out better.

Thomas Walnut Dresser: Cutting and Hand Planing Thin Strips for Trim

What a great weekend – a lot of progress!

Yesterday I finalized some details on the dresser and cut the strips of walnut for trim. There are many methods for cutting thin strips, here’s how I worked through it yesterday.

  1. Set the distance between the fence and the blade to 1/32” greater than the final measurement. This allows for cleaning up after the table saw cut.
  2. Create a sacrificial push stick out of wood. The saw blade will go into this so don’t use your good push stick. Make sure you have a notch on the back to catch the work piece and push it along.
  3. Always use a feather board, and make sure the notch in your push stick doesn’t catch on your feather board or you won’t be able to push the stock through.
  4. Put a mark on one side of the stock you’re ripping from. This mark will always face away from the fence.
  5. Plane the opposite face so that it looks great, this face will ride against the fence and will be visible on your project.
  6. Adjust your feather board so that it secure the stock tight against the fence.
  7. Make your rip cut, using your sacrificial push stick.
  8. Make a mark on the backside of the finished piece so you know that’s the glue side.
  9. Go back to step 5 until you’re done.

It’s kind of a pain to go back and forth between the saw and bench so many times, but you are guaranteed that your visible faces will look great and all your strips are the same thickness.


Here’s what all those shavings look like. These smell so good, are a great way to get a campfire started, and would even look great in an Easter Basket (according to my mother-in-law). That Stanley Sweetheart #4 is awesome, and so is the Stanley Sweetheart low—angle block plane.



Here’s a pile of the trim pieces all ready to go.

Thomas Walnut Dresser: Progress Update

Tomorrow I will officially be one week behind my delivery date for the dresser. Luckily the customer I’m working understands. One of the reasons I picked the dresser as the first official project for Upper Cut is because of the challenge of the piece, the design elements I’d be responsible for, and the coolness of the customer.

GAKMAN has been helping every Sunday night, and it really helps to move things along. It is amazing how fast you can move with two people, one on each side of the bench.

Here is what is done, and what’s left:

Completed Work

  1. All materials and hardware have arrived (knobs, slides, wood)
  2. All solid wood has acclimated, been rough sized, and the twisting and turning has slowed down
  3. New tools necessary for the build have been bought or built (eight 5’ clamps, router bits, crosscut sled, router dado guide, etc.)
  4. Sides are at final size, and the dados for the dust frames and bottom are done
  5. Top, back, and bottom are at final size
  6. Stock for drawer boxes is rough sized; these also have a finish applied (easier to do before they are built)
  7. Finish has been tested – feels smooth and looks good!
  8. The dustframes (horizontal pieces between drawer banks) are done including dadoes for dividers
  9. The dividers (vertical pieces between drawers) are done
  10. The bottom feet are done!

Remaining Work

  1. Assemble the dustframes as a sub-assembly
  2. Assemble the dustframe sub-assembly into the carcass (top, bottom, sides, back)
  3. Attach feet
  4. Build and install drawer boxes
  5. Size, trim, and install drawer fronts; install drawer pulls
  6. Sand and finish

Some Highlights

  • The bottoms look awesome. I left them just shy of five inches so I can put felt pads on the bottom.
  • I made an extra bottom in case the dresser sags in the middle. If we can live without it, I think it will look better, but if we need it, it’s done.
  • The complicated dustframes are done! Built and assembled yesterday, trimmed and dadoed tonight.
  • The finish looks awesome and is smooth
  • The sides look great – they are book matched and have interesting patterns (but aren’t wacky)
  • The dustframe on this piece is more complicated than other dressers because of the asymmetric drawers (which are a really nice feature)
  • The drawer fronts are coming from one piece with continuous grain, which will look fantastic

Schedule Impact

I think I’m about 2-4 weeks out depending on the amount of shop time I can carve out. This is a fun, challenging build and will really start to move once the carcass is assembled. Building drawers can move very fast once you get the jigs and tools setup. I want to make sure I include enough proper time for sanding and plenty of coats of finish.