Introduction: Oak, Beech & Walnut Chest of Drawers
In this Instructable I'll show you how I built a chest of drawers for my girlfriend to replace some old ones in our bedroom.
She had bought some flat pack drawers when we first moved into our house, but they weren't great from the outset with the runners popping ball bearings everywhere and the drawers collapsing as a result, making them impossible to open.
The drawers that did work only opened 50% of the way due to the type of runners, so this wasn't ideal either. My plan was to make some slightly bigger drawers, with an extra one for more storage as what she had put in them was bursting out due to lack of space.
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Materials & Equipment
I used a lot of my tools to build these drawers and have listed below what I can remember, as always you can do things a multitude of ways so you're in no way restricted if you don't have some of the stuff below:
Tools & Equipment
- Table saw
- Chop saw
- Track saw
- Router 1/2", 1/4" and 1/4" palm
- Random orbit sander
- Center finder
- Hand tools - Hammers, chisels, pull saws, screwdrivers, tape measures, rulers etc
- Drill and varying size bits
- Impact driver
- Exakt plunge saw
- Wire wheel
- Dovetail Jig
- Various homemade jigs for ease and speed of repetitive tasks
- Oak lengths varying sizes and thicknesses
- Spalted Beech slab
- Pine planks 2400mm x 150mm x 14mm
- 3mm plywood sheet
- Ash lengths
- Oak dowel 12mm
- Walnut length
- Wood screws varying lengths
- Titebond wood glue
- Danish oil
- Sand paper 80-240 grits
- 400mm x 45mm x 12mm, 45kg load, 100% extension, separating drawer runners x10
Step 2: The Sides
To build my drawers I planned to use Oak as I had a lot of it lying around in my garage left over from other builds, as well as some bits I'd picked up with no specific purpose in mind.
Also the bed I built last year (see other Instructable) was also made from Oak and since these drawers were for the bedroom they'd match nicely.
To make the sides of my drawers I wanted to create two rectangular frames basically, I would then join these together with top and bottom rails to create the structure for the drawers to sit in.
To begin I took one of two large pieces of oak around 110 x 70 x 1300mm that I had previously planed up square and marked it up so I had a line running the length of it. With the line drawn all the way round I could then set up my table saws fence so that the blade aligned with the center of this mark.
Switching the saw on I passed the Oak length through the blade cutting the timber in half, these two pieces would form the legs on one side of my drawers. I repeated the cutting process with the other piece of Oak and I now had my four legs. Each one had a rough face where the blade had been with some scorching but I'd sort this out later on.
The next step was to cut them to length using my chop saw. The current set of drawers only had 4 drawers and each was around 160mm high. I wanted an extra drawer in my new ones and planned to make them the same height but with taller fronts around 170-180mm high. Working on the taller 180mm measurement I cut my legs to 1000mm long this would leave me 100mm at the bottom once the drawers were in raising them off the ground slightly.
In order to join a pair of legs together I next cut some rails from some thinner 18 x 50mm Oak lengths, these would sit flush with the inside face of the drawers allowing me to install some exterior side paneling between the legs later on. My legs were around 110mm wide on the sides so I cut my rails to 410mm, this would give me around 520mm overall depth allowing me to build drawers up to around 500mm deep.
With 4 rails cut I now needed to join all the pieces together, as these were the main supports for the drawers I decided to glue and screw the pieces then hide my screws behind some dowel plugs, giving me a strong mechanical fixing.
My first rail I positioned right at the top of the legs so the edge was flush with the end of each leg and drew around each end of the rail on the inside face of the legs. For the bottom rail I measured up around 50mm on each leg and aligned a rail before drawing round them again to mark the position on the legs. With the legs marked I could then mark and drill two holes in each location for the screws to pass through into the center of the rails. After drilling through each leg I positioned the rails in place and re-drilled through to mark pilot holes in each rails end.
I next widened the holes on the legs to 12mm to accommodate the size of the screw head and allow it to sit below the surface of the Oak, I could then use some 12mm Oak dowel to hide the screws later on. With everything drilled I applied glue to both ends of each rail and lining them up in their positions screwed through the legs to secure the rails on to them. I repeated this process again so that I now had two side frames and I left them to dry for a couple of hours.
After the glue had set I could then use my random orbit sander to go over both side frames to get rid of all the scorch marks left behind from my table saw earlier and any dried on glue that had squeezed out from my joints. I didn't insert any Oak dowel plugs at this point in case of any reason why I may have to take them apart for adjustments I could still get the screws out.
Step 3: Drawers
With the sides of the frame made I chose to start making the drawers next rather than finish the rest of the frame. The main reason was I could then make my frame to fit around my drawers, as I thought it would be easier than making a frame first and possibly then having drawers slightly too wide to fit if I got any measurements wrong or made any miscalculations.
Initially I was going to make my drawers entirely from Oak, however after some thoughts on my design I decided to build the frames of the drawers from Pine and then face them with an Oak front, this would save me a small fortune in timber as well as making the unit lighter putting less stress on my runners.
To make the drawers I bought five lengths of planed square edge Pine 150 x 14 x 2400mm (for an extra few quid it was easier than buying rough sawn and machining it up myself) and from each board I planned to make one drawer. The drawers would be 720mm wide x 450mm deep, meaning I'd use 2340mm total from each board making them just long enough.
With my boards acquired I marked up one of them using my square, tape measure and a pencil at the correct lengths for each individual piece of the drawer (marking at 720mm, 1440mm, 1890mm & 2340mm) then I clamped this board to the other 4 boards making sure all the ends were flush and the edges aligned. I could then feed the boards into my chop saw until the first pencil mark was aligned to the laser blade marker, turning on the saw I then plunged the blade into the timbers cutting 5 pieces out at once rather than individually measure out each piece on each board saving a lot of time and hassle.
After each cut I numbered the boards on one edge (1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 2A, 2B etc) then when making the drawers I'd use all the same numbered pieces for one drawer making it easier to identify which piece went where.
With all the pieces cut I now had 10 short boards and 10 long ones ready to turn into drawers
Step 4: Dovetails
To make the drawer boxes and hold my freshly cut boards together I decided to use dovetails on the front as these would be visible when the drawers were open and a simple half lap at the back which you wouldn't see.
For the dovetails I have a special jig that allows me to clamp in two pieces at once and rout out both the pins and the grooves simultaneously. Before I clamped them and routed away though there's a bit of preparation needed first.
The jig has two sides one for cutting evens and one for odds. The odds and evens are determined by laying out the timbers in the correct orientation. It also has a top and bottom position, A & B. So basically I laid my 4 drawer pieces out as they would be when joined together, then at the corners where the boards meet I labelled them A1, B1 and A2, B2 for each set of boards for each individual drawer.
Once they're all marked up I can now clamp them into my jig starting with the even numbers, all the odd numbered boards clamp on the right hand side of the jig and all the evens on the left, butting up the edge of the timber to a guide pin on the jig to ensure its in the correct position. A boards clamp on the bottom and B boards clamp on the top of the jig, with the boards sitting offset to one another when clamped allowing the simultaneous cutting of both joint parts.
A guide plate clamps down over the top of the boards to ensure they are both level with one another before cutting, this plate also acts as the cutting jig for the router allowing it to pass in and out of the timber cutting out the joints.
The router itself is fitted with a universal base and a guide bush the same diameter as the distance between the pins on the jig is screwed into it. A dovetail cutter can then be mounted in the router and set to the correct depth, 17mm in this case.
Now that everything is ready I sat the routers base on top of the jigs guide plate and starting it up used the guide bush fitted to the router to follow the contour of the jig moving the cutter in and out of the timber cutting material away forming the joints for my drawers.
With the even numbered two boards cut I could then load in the odd numbered ones to the other side of the jig and repeat the process in the same way. With both sides cut a quick dry fit test to check the joints before cutting all the rest out for the other drawers. In total I made 10 passes through the jig cutting both sides for the front of each drawer. After cutting I cleaned up each joint with some sandpaper to remove any rough edges and blemishes.
Step 5: Runners
The old drawers main issue was that the cheap metal runners installed only pulled out to 50% extension and they came apart shortly after purchase with all the ball bearings coming loose and collapsing the drawers.
To ensure my new drawers didn't have these problems I bought some 100% extension runners capable of holding up to 45Kg of weight, plenty for a few clothes in each drawer. They also came apart allowing me to remove the drawers as and when needed, a great help for construction and installation as well. The runners I bought measured 400mm x 45mm x 12mm and to maximize the width of my drawers I decided to cut a recess in the sides of each drawer for the runners to sit in.
The first step was to mark a center line down the outside face on each board to be used as a drawer side by simply measuring to the middle of the board at each end then drawing a line between. From this center line I could then mark out the total width of each runner and draw on these lines in the same way.
I planned to cut out between these lines using my palm router and a straight cut bit so my runners would sit inside.
To speed up this routing process I decided to make a simple jig. With my first board marked up I laid it on the bench and screwed two scrap blocks down at either end, then I screwed another block above the top edge of the board to hold it in place. Next measuring the distance from the outside edge of the router bit to the edge of the routers base, I lined up and screwed a straight edge along the length of the board that I could run my router along to cut a channel in the board. This would allow me to load a board in cut along the edge, turn it round and rout along the other edge giving me my recess for the runner. I could then repeat this quickly for all the drawer side boards and it would ensure my runners sat in the same position on each drawer.
I routed the recess all the way through the back edge of the sides but stopped short of the dovetails by around 5mm. After cutting with the router I gave each internal corner of the recess a quick cleanup with my chisel to remove the round edges and square them off, as well as sanding any rough edges smooth with some sandpaper.
Whilst I had the router out with my slot cut bit in I also took the opportunity to cut my half lap joints for the back of the drawers, after cutting the recesses for the runners I modified the jig so the router would run across the end of each board cutting a groove the same size as the thickness of the back boards.
Once the laps were all cut I could then test fit all the drawer pieces to check the size and shape of each one, making sure they would all fit squarely together, which thankfully they did.
Step 6: Bases
With the drawer frames built I now needed to put in some bases so they actually functioned as drawers and not just floating frames.
I chose to use some plywood for the bases as it is strong and will last a long time and one 1200mm x 2400mm sheet gave me enough material to get five bases and I'd have some left over to do the back of the drawer frame later on.
The first step for my bases was assembling all my drawers to get the correct size bases, so I dry fitted all the dovetails together and then with the back of the drawer frames upright sat the back pieces into their half lap joints.
To hold the half laps in place I chose to screw them together. I began by drawing a line on the outside face of the back boards the same distance away from the edges as the thickness of the drawer sides. I could then drill two pilot holes between the edge of the board and this line and this would ensure my screws would screw into the center of the side pieces.
I drilled each drawer in turn screwing them together before moving on to the next one, eventually I had all five drawer frames screwed up ready for bases.
Next I used a slot cutting bit in my palm router to cut a groove all the way around the inside of my drawer frames around 5mm up from the base of my drawers. This slot would allow my bases to slide into the frames and sit securely without moving or falling out. The slot cutter cuts around 10mm into the timber giving a 6mm wide groove.
With all the drawers routed and a groove all the way round in each I could now measure up for the bases, measuring the width and length between the back of the grooves I'd just cut. These measurements worked out around 710mm x 440mm and with my base size now known I could mark up my plywood sheet accordingly using a tape measure pencil and straight edge.
To cut the plywood to size I then used my Exakt saw, a small, light plunge saw that could easily follow my lines without bending the sheet of flexible ply like a hand or circular saw would. I ran my Exakt down all my marks and was left with 5 rough cut bases and one long strip of remaining plywood that'd I'd use later on.
To finish the bases I sanded each one flat round the edges to remove any roughness left by the saw and also knocked off all the corners to form a chamfer, as the internal corners of my groove in each draw would be radiused where the cutter made the turns onto another face. This would just allow the boards to slide straight in and not get caught on these radius.
Now that I had all my bases cut and ready they just needed fitting, so I started by dismantling each drawer again, unscrewing the backs and gently tapping the dry fitted dovetails apart. I could now re-fit the dovetails, but firstly I applied some Titebond glue to each joint to hold it securely in place, tapping them tight together using a rubber mallet. With the front of the drawer glued I could turn the back face up and slide a base into my cut groove, ensuring it sat flat at the bottom and then place on the back piece of the drawer, again lining up the base with the groove cut in this piece. I next put the screws back in to hold the drawer together before leaving it to one side to dry whilst I did the rest of the drawers.
Step 7: Attaching the Runners (Drawers)
With all five drawers now glued up and dry it was time to attach the runners to them.
My runners were 400mm long and 45mm wide, but consisted of two pieces, a wide 45mm piece and a narrow 20mm piece that came apart from the main 45mm runner allowing easy installation and it would be the narrow piece that would fix to my drawers, allowing them to be removed and re-inserted whenever I needed too.
After separating all the runners into their two pieces I needed to screw the narrow ones to my draws centrally in my recesses that I'd already cut earlier. To make sure they were central I needed to mark a center line in the recess and to do this I made a little gauge, so the whole thing was easy rather than measure and mark each draw separately.
The gauge was made from two pieces of wood screwed together in a T shape, making sure that the edges were square and that when screwed together they were 90 degrees from one another so my line would be marked correctly.
On the bottom of the T shape I then drilled a hole big enough to hold a pen tightly at the exact distance the center of the drawer was from the top edge. With a pen inserted in to the hole I could then run the inside edge of the top of the T along my drawers top edge to mark a center line in the middle of my cut out recess, showing me where to place my runner so it was central.
With lines marked on both sides of each drawer I could now position my runners making sure one end was tight up against the start of the recess where my dovetails were and then lining up the holes on the runners centrally over my marked lines. Once in place I used a bradawl to mark screw positions on the draw and used small 6mm screws to attach the runners to the drawers. Because I'd recessed the drawers to accommodate runners any longer screws would have protruded through to the inside of the drawers and possibly damaged clothes once in use, not to mention looking terrible.
I later found out once the drawers were installed, that due to the small nature of these 6mm screws in to softwood and weight of the drawers, that they didn't provide enough hold and the drawers moved around. At this point I removed these screws and replaced them for 10mm M4 countersunk machine screws by drilling out the holes left by the screws to 4mm and bolting the runners through from inside the drawers, this gave me a much stronger and secure hold and stopped any movement of the runners. The countersunk heads also sat flush inside the drawers so there was no risk of any damage to anything once in use.
With the runners now firmly attached to the drawers I could now re-attach the other 45mm section to see if it fit into my recess and if the runners would actually slide in and out freely. This was just a case of aligning the two parts and pushing gently until they clicked into place. Thankfully my runners all fit and ran with a smooth action.
Step 8: Oak Fronts
To make the fronts of the drawers I had some old, unused Oak floor board offcuts that I could machine up to fit.
Firstly I ran one edge of each board through my bench planer to square off one edge, using this square edge I could then pass the boards through my table saw to cut them all to the same width, which in the end was 170mm.
Thankfully the boards were already flat, but did have some grooves on the back where adhesive would sit to secure them when they were floor boards, so I ran each board through my thicknesser to remove these grooves and reduce the overall thickness of each board from around 18mm to 15mm.
I left the boards lengths for now as I'd cut them to size once installed in the frame.
With the fronts cut and flattened I now needed to attach them to my drawer frames. The best way I could see would be to drill and screw through from the back.
I placed a drawer front face down on my bench and then sat a drawer frame on top with the front dovetailed face sat against the back of my drawer front. I aligned the bottom of the drawer so it was flush with the bottom edge of the front giving around a 20mm overlap of the Oak front at the top edge of the drawer. I then made sure I had a decent amount of timber from the front piece either side of the drawer frame so it would cover over my legs on the frame which I could cut off flush later.
With everything aligned I could now clamp the two pieces together to hold them whilst I screwed them together.
To make sure my screws would be in the same place on every drawer I made a little guide using a scrap piece of timber, marking it out for three evenly spaced screw positions and drilling holes through it where these screws would go.
This guide then sat snugly inside my drawer frames firstly at the top flush with the edge and then at the bottom against the drawer base, allowing me to drill through the holes in the guide stick in to the drawer frame and front beneath to the correct depth, leaving a pilot hole for my screws.
After drilling six holes in to each front I could screw the pieces together so they were firmly fixed and put them to one side.
Step 9: Frame Finishing
Now my fronts were on the drawers I needed to install them in the frame which meant finishing that off and installing the runners.
My first job was to fit my two side pieces for the frame together that I'd made earlier on, now that I had my drawer widths I could cut some rails to go between the frame and join it all together.
To make these rails I cut them down from a larger piece of Oak as I had my legs. The piece of Oak was around 70mm x 60mm x 1000mm and already planed flat ready to go. I marked out the center lines again on each face along the length of this piece, crossing them over on the ends to form a cross showing me where to cut to get my 4 rails that I needed.
With these marks drawn I could then set up my saw fence on the table saw to align the blade with these marks and pass the timber through to cut it to size. I was left with 4 rails around 35 x 30 x 1000mm in size, my drawer width plus the slight over hang from the runner gave me a length of around 730mm, so I needed to mark and cut these rails on my chop saw to match that size, so the drawers would fit nicely between the frame once everything was fastened together.
The next stage was to now line up the rails on my side pieces, to ensure the frame was square I used right angled clamping squares to hold everything in place. With the rails sat in the correct position I drilled through from the outside as I had done on the sides, so that I could screw through into the rails and secure them with screws that I'd then hide with dowel plugs.
I did this for each cross rail on the frame until all four were in position and the frame stood up on its own. I now needed to install the draw runners, but because the side panels were basically just a big frame I decide to screw in some more timbers between to fix the runners to and add some more strength.
As you wouldn't see these timbers I made them from pine the same thickness as my top and bottom side rails, spaced within the frame to line up with screw holes on the runners. After cutting them to the right length on my chop saw I marked their position in the frame and attached them by drilling and screwing through from the bottom and top, using a center finder to mark the locations for the screws.
After I'd screwed all four in position I could now attach the runners to my frame securely.
Step 10: Attaching the Runners (Frame)
With my new supports screwed in I now needed to align my runners correctly so that all the drawers would fit in the frame. Because I'd made my drawers slightly narrower 170mm instead of the 180mm high I had an extra 50mm of space to make up on the front, so decided I would put a small oak blank above my first drawer, so that I didn't just have a larger space at the bottom under the last drawer.
The positions for the runners now needed to be marked and the runners fitted, as the widest part of my drawers were the fronts at 170mm the runners needed to be this far apart from each other along their center, however I wanted a small gap between each drawer so they didn't catch each other and I now had a planned 50mm gap above the first drawer.
I decided on 2-3mm gap between the drawers, meaning after the first drawer runner was fitted the rest would be spaced 172-173mm apart from one another. The first drawer runner would be positioned around 150mm from the top of the frame, 50mm for my Oak blank then the distance to the center of the first drawer runner, which was around 100mm including a 2-3mm gap.
The runners also needed to be set back from the front edge of the frame to allow my drawers to fully close and this distance was the same as from the front of my drawer frame where my dovetails were, to where the recess cut in the sides started, around 25mm.
With all my measurements known I started fitting the runners, I did the top one first measuring down from the top of my frame around 150mm and marking a horizontal line front to back. I then measured 25mm in from the front edge and drew another vertical line. I repeated this on the other side of my frame so I had two parallel, hopefully level with each other lines.
Before I fixed in my first set of runners I measured 173mm down from these horizontal lines to mark where the next runner would go, as once fitted the runner would hide my marks making it difficult to get accurate measurements.
To fit the first pair of runners I took the wider 45mm section and making sure it was the right way round lined the front of the runner up with my 25mm vertical mark. I then moved the runner so the fixing holes in it sat centrally over my horizontal center line. I marked the hole positions with the bradawl and inserted some screws into the holes to the timber behind to hold the runner in place. I then repeated this step for the opposite side so my first pair of runners were attached.
I could now test fit my first drawer, lifting it in to position, aligning the runners on both side and sliding it in gently until the runners clicked back together. Pushing it all the way back the draw slid in with ease until my Oak front stopped flush against the front of the frame. With this first drawer a success I removed it again and fit the rest of the runners to the frame, first marking out all the horizontal center lines 172-173mm apart from one another, before using a 25mm block clamped to the front of the drawers to give me the correct distance from the front.
Once all the runners were on I put each drawer back in one at a time to make sure they all fit right and didn't catch one another.
Step 11: Finishing Up the Drawers
Once all the drawers were in thankfully they all fit and I had a nice narrow gap between them. The fronts however were still too wide and overhung the sides of the frame by varying amounts.
To fix this I first marked where the edges of the drawer fronts should be (flush with the outside of the frame) I then roughly cut off the excess just using a hand saw following close to the line. With the fronts roughly cut to the right size I then used a flush cut bit in my router to follow the edge of the leg behind the fronts and cut away the final little bits of the draw front edges making them flat and flush to the frame.
I did this on both sides of the drawer fronts so I was left with nice square edges all the way round each drawer.
I wasn't happy with the look of them at this stage however, so I decided to rout a chamfer around the edge of each drawer. Again I used my palm router, but switched the bit for a chamfer bit and ran its bearing around the edges of all my drawers to cut away the shape and give me some detail, vastly improving the look of the drawers. To hold the drawers open whilst I routed I clamped each one to the side of the frame so it wouldn't move and I wouldn't catch the other drawers, possibly damaging them.
With all my chamfers cut I used my orbital sander to smooth out all the fronts and remove all the tooling and scorch marks left by the router using a 120 grit paper.
Using another piece of Oak floor board I then made a blank for above the top drawer 50mm wide, chamfering three of the edges to match the drawer fronts, leaving the top edge square where it would sit against the top. I then screwed this in place from behind through the top rails installed earlier.
Step 12: The Back
With the drawers in I now needed to think about enclosing around them to hide the frame construction and seal them off.
My first section to do was the back. I planned to use the same plywood as I'd used for the drawer bases as I had enough of an offcut left to give me two pieces to cover the whole frame.
I removed all the drawers again and took off my blank from the top.
In order for the plywood to sit flush with the Oak frame, I again used my slot cut bit to rout out a recess around the inside edge of the back of the frame that the plywood could sit in.
As I was using two pieces of ply to form my back I also needed to insert some kind of support in the center of the frame to stop the ply flexing and give it something to fix to. For this I just used a strip of Oak cut to the same height as between my top and bottom frame rails. I also decided to cut another small cross piece to go across the top of the frame to aid in supporting the top once that went on and it was made from an offcut of the rails I cut earlier.
To attach the back support piece I measured and marked the center at the back of the frame on the top and bottom rails. I then marked the center of the back support and lined up the marks so it was sat centrally in the back of the frame, ensuring the back face of the support was sat flush with my groove I'd routed in the frame. I then drilled through the frame top and bottom and screwed the back support in place using 2 screws at each end.
For the additional top rail I marked the center of the frame again, along with the center of the rail. holding the rail in place I then marked how long it needed to be and cut it to size on the chop saw. Using my clamping squares I then positioned the rail in place using my marks and drilled pilot holes through the frame into it, before screwing it in place securely.
With all my supports in place I could now measure and cut my plywood back boards. I rounded off two of the corners on each piece so it would again sit in the radius left by the router when cutting the groove in the frame. Checking the fit I put the back boards to one side as I would fit these later once the frame was in the room.
Step 13: Side Panelling
The back was ready to go on, so now I needed to enclose the sides. To do this I had bought some thin 6mm oak boards from a sawmill and was going to attach them to the outside of the frame between the legs.
The space they had to cover was just wider than 2 boards width, so I'd need three pieces to cover the whole space. The first step was to measure the height each board needed to be by measuring from the top down to the bottom edge of the bottom rail.
With the lengths confirmed I could then cut these to size on the chop saw, making them slightly oversized so I could chop off the excess once in place to make sure they were level with the frame.
To hold the boards in place on the frame I simply stapled them on using my nailer. I lined up the first board with the inside edge of my leg on one side and nailed it on through the top right corner, moving down to the bottom right afterwards. I then overlapped the next board by around 20mm to hide this staple and nailed that in place through its top and bottom right corners. For the last piece of board I only needed around a 60mm wide piece so I cut down two strips from one board, 60mm wide using the table saw, one for each side. I then overlapped this in the same way and stapled it in place through its corners.
In hindsight I probably should have cut all the boards an equal width rather than have a smaller strip for the last piece. Unfortunately I only thought about this once I'd cut all my timber, had I done it the other way I think it would have looked better.
Anyway I repeated this for my other side and then cut the boards level with the top of the drawers using my Japanese pull saw to get a flush edge with the frame whilst cutting. I then gave the boards a rub down with 120 grit paper to smooth them out and give a nice finish. I also put in a few extra staple around the edges of the boards to hold everything firmly in place, but placed them so you couldn't easily notice them.
Step 14: Top Slab
For the top of the drawers I had originally planned to use a piece of a large Oak slab that I already had in my garage. However after attending an open day at a sawmill I saw an amazing slab of spalted Beech that looked way better and so I decided to buy that instead. It was unfortunately slightly too small however to fit as it was, but I didn't care and bought it anyway.
With the slab back home the first thing I did was square up the edges using my track saw. I placed the track along one of the live edges, as close to the edge as I could get so I'd get a flat face once cut and ran the saw through, chopping off one live edged side.
With this edge cut flat I could then use the right angled handle on my hand saw to mark where to cut at each end of the slab to get those flat and square with the back edge. Once marked I cut them off by positioning the track in the same way and running the saw through.
I now had a live edged slab with 3 square right angled edges and one live edge, but it was still to small, smaller now I'd squared it up.
To rectify this I added some Ash edging to the slab to widen it and allow it to sit on the top of my drawers. I cut two side pieces slightly longer than my slab was wide, as at the front end I'd need to match the Ash to the contour of the live edge Beech.
To hold the Ash in place I marked three equidistant, central hole positions along the Ash, using my center finder to scribe a line. I then drilled a 12mm hole part way through the Ash at these locations. Positioning the Ash up against the slab I then drilled a smaller pilot hole all the way through the 12mm holes into the slab behind.
I could now glue and screw the Ash to the Beech slab, hiding the screws behind some Oak dowel plugs glued in once the Ash sides were secure, before been cut off flush using my Japanese saw.
I left the glue to dry overnight before returning the next morning. Upon returning I noticed that my slab had warped slightly. The day before it was flat, or at least I thought it was, where as now the Ash sides were slightly below the surface of the Beech in places, annoying but not the end of the world. I made these drawers in February/March and my garage was freezing at the time, so I had a halogen heater on close by whilst working. Its possible this caused some additional drying out of the timber, warping the slab.
To sort this out I had to use my router sled to re-flatten the slab and make everything level again, so I clamped it on my desk and ran the router over the top surface, before flipping the slab and doing the bottom, taking out all the unevenness. It didn't take long but was an extra step I didn't think I'd be doing.
Once the slab was level again I could now attach my Ash strips to the back of the slab in the same way that I had attached the side pieces, gluing and screwing, hiding the screws with dowels.
After attaching all my Ash trim I then cut the overhanging front edge pieces to roughly match the contour of the live edge and sanded them back smooth to match exactly. I then decided to chamfer the edges by running my router round to match the chamfer that I had put on the drawer fronts and tie everything together.
To attach the top to the frame I used wood insert nuts and some corresponding countersunk M6 bolts. Sitting the slab in position on the frame I drilled up through the frame into the slab to mark hole positions where the inserts would go. Placing the up turned slab on my bench I could then drill these marked holes out to 8mm to take the inserts, countersinking each hole slightly so the insert sat flush with the slab.
Using an Allen key I then screwed the inserts into each one of my holes in the bottom of the slab. Replacing the slab on the frame I then checked the fit by bolting it down, tightening the bolts from underneath before removing the slab again and giving it a quick sand off with 120 then 240 grit papers ready for some finish.
Step 15: Drawer Handles
With everything else about done I needed a way to actually open and close the drawers once it was all assembled. I liked the idea of using a dark wood here to contrast against my light Oak.
I had some Walnut strips I'd machined up and I'd been saving them for the legs on another project, a hall table, but as I'd not yet started anything with that project I decided to use a piece here instead for handles.
I needed ten handles in total, two on each drawer, so I began by marking up the length of Walnut. I first marked a center line all the way along its length, before measuring equidistant lines 120mm apart intersecting the center line at a right angle. These marks gave me the ten handles that I needed.
To make a handle shape I wanted to first cut a groove that your fingers could sit in when you pulled on the handle to open a drawer. In order to cut this groove I drew two more lines down the length of my Walnut just off center of each individual handle.
I could now use a round ball nose router bit to cut my groove along these lines giving me the shape to place your fingers in. I fixed my Walnut to my bench and set up a fence (scrap bit of wood) parallel to it, set the same distance away from the edge as the distance from the center of my router bit to the edge of the routers base. With the bit secure in my router I could now run this along my Walnut cutting a groove right the way along, through five of my handles. Next I simply turned the Walnut around so the opposite edge was against my fence and repeated the cut to rout out a groove in the other five handles.
With two grooves cut I then used some rolled up 120 grit paper to send them smooth and remove any scorch marks left behind by the router.
The grooves would be on the underside of my handles for you to pull on, but for the front visible edge of the handle I wanted an angular chamfered finish to match the rest of the drawers. To achieve this I set up my table saws blade at an angle with the fence as close to the blade as possible, so as not to remove more Walnut than I had to and make the handles too small or structurally weak. I have no idea what the angle I set it to was, just one I was happy with after doing a test cut on some scrap wood.
With the saw set I could pass the Walnut through cutting a chamfer on both sides across all 10 handles. I then set the blade back to 90 degrees so it was straight and moved the fence so the blade was on the center line of my walnut. I then cut along this line to separate the two sets of five handles. These could then be cut square on my chop saw to give me the individual handles, complete with a chamfer and finger groove.
A quick rub down with some 120 & 240 grit paper and they were ready to fit to the drawers.
Step 16: Fitting the Handles
To attach the handles to my drawer I simply screwed them through from the back inside the drawers. However I needed to make sure they were all level and in the same place on every drawer, otherwise once assembled they wouldn't line up with one another and look stupid .
To try and avoid this from happening I marked up each draw front the same as to where the handles would sit.
Firstly I marked the center of each draw by drawing two diagonal lines corner to corner, giving me the center where they intersected.
From this point I now wanted to mark a horizontal center line along the drawer front to indicate the position the handles would sit on it. To make this process easier and rather than measure and mark every drawer, I again made a little gauge using a couple of pieces of square scrap timber fixed in a T shape, with a hole drilled in the center to hold a pencil, inline with the center of the draw front that I found with my diagonal lines. Similar to how I fixed my runners to the drawers.
As every drawer was the same I could use this gauge to mark each one knowing the handles would be in the same place on each drawer.
With center lines drawn on all drawers I could now measure out from the center point (where my diagonals intersected) along the horizontal center line to where my handles would be placed and mark the two edges on the center line. Between the handle edge markings I could then mark for two screws holes. I measured 200mm out on each side for the start of the handles, with the opposite side of the handle at 320mm. I could then mark screw positions 20mm in from these outer marks and used a bradawl to firmly indent them into the Oak.
After all drawers were marked up I used my cordless drill to drill out each hole to around 4mm, just big enough for my screws to freely pass through the holes. Sitting the handles in position over the holes, between their marks I could then drill up through, gently from underneath to mark some pilot holes on the back of each handle. With the pilot holes drilled I could then screw in each handle tight to the front of each drawer checking they were all level and in the same place on each drawer, before removing them all again to sand the drawer fronts one final time to remove all my pencil lines I'd just drawn allover them.
I then re-fitted all the handles.
Step 17: Finishing
I now had everything made it was just a matter of assembly. But before that I first applied my finish to everything.
I gave the whole thing a final rub down with 240 grit sandpaper to smooth out any remaining rough surfaces and edges, then hoovered over it all to pick up any loose dust left behind that could effect finish.
As with most of my projects I opted to use Danish oil to finish, as its easy to apply and brings out all the grain and character and generally just gives a pleasing finish and look to the wood.
I liberally applied it to each part of my drawers, using a paintbrush to get it into all the tight areas and soak into any end grains. After leaving the oil to soak in for a bit I then used an old tea towel to rub off any excess oil and buff the timber to a smooth shine.
I then left everything to dry overnight and give the oil time to penetrate into the timber.
Step 18: Final Assembly
Okay everything was now dry so it was time to start putting it all together. I purposely left everything apart as I now had to carry it all upstairs to the bedroom and had I pre-assembled this would of meant it weighed a ton. It was still heavy but a lot more manageable in its individual pieces.
Once upstairs the first thing was to chuck the old ones out the way never to return, so I could get the new ones in their place.
The first piece to be assembled was the back to the frame. I tipped the drawers forward so the back of the frame was facing upwards and laid on my two back piece of plywood so that they were sat in the recess I'd cut and overlapping the central support in the back of the frame.
I then held the panels in place with some 15mm veneer pins, hammering them through the outer edges of the plywood into the oak frame underneath where they overlapped with a panel pin hammer. I could then stand the frame back upright and the panels were firmly held in place.
Next was the top, I'd already fitted and removed this earlier in the garage to check fit, so it was just a matter of aligning it on the top of the frame again and bolting up through into the wood nut inserts in the base of the slab, using my impact driver to quickly screw it down securely.
With the top on it was now just a matter of inserting each drawer onto one of the pairs of runners in the frame. After initially building the drawers and inserting them in the frame for the first time I numbered them 1-5 so I'd know which drawer went where if/when removing and replacing them during construction. Now finished they're all the same and are all capable of fitting wherever, but as they were still numbered on an inside face I simply inserted them in that order one at a time, lining up the pairs of runners and pushing the drawers in firmly until the runners clicked back together. The drawers could then be pushed all the way in and the next one inserted.
After all 5 were in that was it done.
Step 19: Finished Drawers
Here are a few shots of the drawers finished in their new home. They are much better looking, bigger and actually function. My girlfriend is now going to have to find more stuff to put in them to fill them with all her extra space.
One thing I did notice after installing all the drawers were the runners were a little stiff, this was because whilst in the garage installed on the frame etc I was sanding and sawing and generally making a lot of dust nearby. Some of this got into the runners and clogged up a bit with the grease already on there.
However a quick wipe down and a vacuum of the runners soon cleared all the debris out the way and a little 3 in 1 oil applied to each soon had the runners operating smoothly once again.
They've been in daily use ever since and match my other furniture builds in the bedroom a treat.
Thanks for reading through everything, hope you like the finished product, let me know what you think.
See you on my next project.
This is an entry in the