I made a custom vanity for my fiance. I wanted to see if I could make round drawers that swivel out instead of normal drawers that pull straight out. I designed the overall image and shape of the vanity in Fusion 360 and the sections of the drawers and towers in AutoCad. I used a ShopBot CNC to cut all of the pieces out precisely. I had a total of about 100 pieces that needed to be glued together to build up the drawers and towers.
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Step 1: Designing
At first, I just wanted to make a vanity that had a lot of tabletop space and drawer space with a large mirror. After mulling this design over I decided I wanted something I've never seen before. I came up with this second design that had a curved top and circular towers for the drawers. I detailed how the drawers worked in this third image. Originally I was going to have the drawers swivel toward the center but the table top didn't come out as large as I wanted so the drawers swivel outward and there is no mirror space. So it turned out more like a desk than a vanity.
I've included the AutoCad and Fusion 360 files for reference.
Step 2: Drafting and CNC
Our ShopBot CNC is only 4'x8' so I ripped each down to 4'x5'. I drafted the sections of the towers/drawers, tabletop contour, and the holes for the legs and brass rod in AutoCad to ensure everything sat in the right place and brought it over to VCarve to make the tool paths for the CNC.
There were two ring sections, one was split 90 degrees from the other, so each drawer has 4 layers with the seem on the sides and 3 layers with the seam on the front and back. This alternated the seam, preventing a large seam going from top to bottom, making the drawer stronger.
The drawers themselves are 7 layers of 3/4" ply and 1 bottom layer of 1/2" ply, a total of 5 3/4". The cage for each drawer, or the back of the tower that the drawer sits in, is 8 layers of 3/4" ply, a total of 6". This makes a total 1/4" gap, or 1/8" on top and bottom, for the drawer to sit in.
Step 3: Sanding Each Piece
The CNC left a pretty rough and spiky edge on every piece so I had to sand each one individually to smooth them out and get them ready for gluing.
Step 4: The Drawers and Legs
I assembled the drawers individually before building the towers as a whole. I did this my sliding each layer on the rod and glued each layer down using the bottom as the shape template. I used an 18 gauge Brad nailer to quickly attach each layer.
I turned the legs in an attempt to follow the round motif. The legs insert into the bottom of the tower and a wedge is driven into the top of the legs to make a solid connection.
Step 5: Completing the Towers
Once the drawers were made I started to assemble the towers. I started by making a pin with a nail by drilling a hole on the end and trimming the nail to about 3/4". I made a slot for it to sit in on the top of the bottom layer of the tower. This prevented the rod from spinning when a drawer was spun open, which would spin all the drawers without this pin.
Once the towers were made I had to do quite a bit of sanding to make them smooth. Due to some miscalculations, the solid circles that divided the drawer cavities were too big so I had to sand them done to match the size of the drawers. Used first used a belt sander because, admittedly, they were pretty bad, and then used a random orbit sander to do smooth everything out and bring it all close. The brass rods were a tad long so I cut them and sand them down flush to the top of the towers.
Step 6: Attaching the Towers and Back Leg
I wanted the towers, back leg, and tabletop to all be removable to make it easy for storage or moving. I did this by having two layers for the tabletop. I inserted t-nuts on the bottom layer of the tabletop so I can use 1/4" stove bolts to bolt through the towers, leaving a flush surface for the drawer to slide over. The block in the first image was my solution to notching the whole for the t-nut to sit flush after already drilling the 1/4" hole. I cut a 3/4" hole, the size of the t-nut's large ring, in a piece of plywood and used that as a guide to prevent my Forstner bit from walking around.
The turning of the back leg was just a mess. It just barely fit on the lathe and it would vibrate pretty bad when I turned the center, leaving a golfball like surface. Once I got the overall shape I had to sand through this texture with 80 grit sandpaper, which just felt wrong. I eventually got it down to 240, which was smooth enough for this job.
I made a plate for this back leg to attach it to the tabletop. I used the same technique from the short legs to attach the plate and leg together and, as before, used t-nuts to bolt through to the tabletop. I decided on orienting the plate this way because trying to square it up against the round back side of the table just wouldn't work out right.
I failed to capture the natural beauty of the fully constructed birch ply desk before I stained it. My fiance didn't like the light color of the Birch ply and wanted a dark wood furniture look.
Step 7: Finished Product
Once the handle knobs were glued on and all the stain was dry I applied to coats of polycrylic on the table top surface and each handle knob. I didn't do the whole desk because trying to seal the end grain on all of that plywood would have gotten really expensive really quickly. If I have more money later I might try to seal it all so have a less dusty look to the towers, but the fiance likes it so leave it where it lies.
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