Shopping for furniture is difficult, finding the right dresser, chair, couch is a daunting task. When you build it yourself you must also factor in what can you actually finish with the tools and skill set you have. I spent about 6 months reviewing plans for dressers and chest of drawers. Finally I decided to keep it simple and classic, I selected a shaker chest of drawers. I got my plans from a book of measured drawings of shaker furniture and I would recommend picking up one or two books on shaker furniture if you are considering building your own.
The design is simple and I actually dumbed it down, the frame of my chest is joined with dados and pocket holes instead of dovetail grooves. I figured I would use oak with walnut to dress up the design.
The wood for this came from an oak tree my father and I had milled. I built my sons crib with this lumber and I had just enough left to build the dresser. The lumber had knots and defects, but I wanted everything from the same tree so I used dutchmen to cover the defects. A dutchman is really just a patch, these are dovetails but calling them bow ties or butterflies is fine too.
What I learned:
1. Dovetail drawers are the way to go, once your dovetail jig is dialed in. I have done box joints for years and the plan was to use box joint drawers. I made 3 drawers using box joints, I screwed up the 4th drawer after I have removed my box joint jig from my saw. I decided to try my dovetail machine on the replacement drawer. I carefully followed the manual and the drawer came out great. BUT I found that this drawer was much easier to assemble and square than the box joint drawers. So for me its dovetail drawers from here on out.
2. No matter the piece consider using mechanical drawer slides. My dresser uses a close fit, wood on wood drawer slides. These work well, if you are putting fronts on the drawers that hide the opening, use mechanical slides. Not the cheap ones, use the high end ones that are soft closing.
3. Spray Lacquer is an excellent finish. I already knew this but this project made me remember how easy it is to get a great finish in a short period of time. I use a harbor freight spray gun and a 3 to 1 ratio of lacquer to lacquer thinner.
Overall I am extremely happy with this dresser. I love how the shaker design makes it incredibly sturdy. I am looking forward to building more shaker furniture.