Gerald’s Chest of Drawers and Doll Desk

Viewer Project -
Added on October 1, 2009

This Viewer Project post is a two-fer. Gerald sent us pics of a beautiful chest of drawers as well as a doll desk for his daughter. Check it out:

The Chest of Drawers

My wife’s sister asked that I build her son a chest of drawers similar to one that she had seen in a furniture store near her house. It was a painted item of poor quality. This would be my first opportunity to design and create a piece from start to finish.

Isaac 027 I started with the overall dimensions and began creating the shop drawings for the piece. I am a Professional Land Surveyor by trade so I was able to utilize Autocad for the drawings. I went through every piece in my home to get different ideas on how to design the case for the piece. The design I ended up using seems pretty simple once I broke it down into the components. The sides are a frame and panel between the two legs. The supports for the drawers are a simple frame design and really worked well. The top is an edge glued panel of the best stock I had on hand.

Isaac 011 The drawers are constructed using a type of locking rabbet joint in front and dado in the rear. As can be seen on the photos I reinforced all interior corners with small mitered pieces just to add more strength to the joints. This piece is going to a small child and I wanted to be sure he could not pull the drawers apart. The drawer slides are full extension glides. A little unusual for a furniture piece but again I wanted to make sure that if he was to lean down on the drawers or to climb on them that they would support the load and not give way.

The drawer fronts for the top three drawers and the middle two were cut from one piece of stock to insure grain continuity across the piece. Really makes the piece stand out when completed. All joinery on this project are Domino’s from Festool. Thanks again to Dennis Kent of Woodcraft for suggesting this tool for my shop. It is an awesome tool that makes quick, strong and accurate joinery.

Isaac 017 The finish was lots of fun to watch come together. The cherry really comes to life during the finishing process. I started by sealing the raw cherry with a wash coat of shellac to help control blotching. This was followed by two coats of Minwax “Cherrywood” gel stain. The gel stain was easy to work with and ended up being very transparent. It really allowed the grain to show through on the completed project. The second coat was when the character of the cherry began to show. The top coat is lacquer sprayed on with my Earlex HVLP system. Multiple coats were applied to allow wet sanding and hand polishing up to the desired sheen. I think the top came out nicely once the sanding and polishing were completed. Antique brass hardware completed the look and matched nicely with the cherry.

The Doll Desk

My daughter Sarah has several American Girl dolls and loves to play school with them. She asked daddy for a desk for “Julie” and I set out to see what I could come up with.

DESK 008 This project was built pretty much on the fly. Sarah had seen an old type desk at our church and wanted Julie’s to be like it. I decided that since I had some nice Red Oak left from from another project I would use it. The desk compartment is a simple box with a slant top that opens to storage below. A pencil groove was routed in the flat area near the top. Corners are simple rabbets and the bottom is tempered hard board floating in a groove milled into the sides.

DESK 007The chair is sized to fit Julie and utilized some thin stock that was left over from another project where I had resawn some oak for another use. The sides utilize a half lap joint and are surprisingly strong. The seat and back stretchers are the thin resawn stack that I mentioned earlier. The chair support and desk support is again built from some scrap pieces I had around the shop from larger pieces. DESK 002 The original thought was to have the vertical support for the desk and chair be the only pieces under each. Once the pieces were assembled it became obvious that more support was needed laterally to prevent each from racking. I added the mitered braces to help with the flex of the thin stock. I finished the piece with two coats of satin polyurethane.

Now Sarah and Julie can play school in style!

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