Tim’s Greene & Greene Dresser
By Tim Snider from Derby, KS
Added on October 12, 2017
This dresser is part of the Greene & Greene bedroom suite I made which consists of this dresser, a queen size bed, two night stands, and a side table. Over the last five or so years, I’ve become interested in the G&G style. As a woodworker I like the technical challenges presented during design and construction of these pieces. Darrell Peart’s and Robert Lang’s books have added to my appreciation of the style and have given practical advice on “how to” details. I also find that the details of G&G furniture add pleasure during construction of the piece and enjoyment afterwards.
As with all my projects, published plans never seem to completely meet the size and design requirements of the piece I want to build. The dresser was no exception. Plans from magazines and Robert Lang’s books were used to get overall dimensions and construction methods. Plans were made using Google Sketch-up and a traditional 2D CAD program I’ve used for years. I find that project design and plans are almost as fun as building the project. Darrell Peart’s books were used to get G&G detail information (inserts, pull designs, leg details …).
The wood is Walnut purchased at an estate sale which was harvested, cut, and air dried in S. central Kansas and was placed in a pole barn for ~20 years. It is really beautiful. Boards like this are hard to come by.
The ebony insert idea on the top drawers is from the Anderson Server I did earlier. The pulls on the large drawers were taken from one of the books by Darrell Peart. I still don’t have a good technique to cut the slots on the top but I’m getting better at it.
Dresser Case Sides—A single board ripped to width was used for the top and bottom rails on each side of the dresser. The panels are ½” solid walnut, planed to width. Mortise and tenons were used to join the rails with the legs. A stub tenon was used to fix the middle style divider to the rails. The cloud lift design on the bottom rails is a typical G&G element. Ebony plugs on the legs and at the middle style add visual interest. I use a combination of techniques from Darrell Peart and William Ng to make the Ebony plugs. The plugs are polished to a very high gloss using a buffer wheel on a grinder.
Dresser Legs—The case legs are nicely proportioned to fit the piece. Each side of the legs have the Blacker leg indent detail described in the Peart books. An accurately made jig and careful routing are needed to obtain an even transition from the indent to the leg surface. I found out that uneven pressure on the router resulted in an uneven indent depth in the leg and an angled transition at the surface. Accurate jigs and routing are essential for a clean indent. It’s much easier in the long term to take extra care and skip extra cleanup work to make the indent look good after it’s cut.
Dresser Front—Each row of drawer fronts are laid out in order from single boards. I blended two designs for the drawer fronts and pulls together. I believe the different styles work together well on this piece. The top row of drawers uses a G&G Ebony bar and pull design which matches the night stands and the Anderson Server I made. The arched drawer pulls on the lower drawers are also based on descriptions in the Peart books. The drawer sides and backs were made from resawn Monterrey Pine. Careful fitting of the top drawers resulted in silky smooth travel without any side-to-side sloppiness and firm closure without the drawers getting stuck in the case. The six large drawers are on drawer slides.
Dresser Top—Top boards were matched for grain pattern and attractiveness. As with the other details, the bread board ends, ebony inserts, and plug design were taken from the Peart books. Additional techniques were learned from YouTube videos by William Ng and others. The bottom of the breadboard ends are flush with the underneath side of the top since the legs straddle both the top and the breadboard ends. The breadboard ends are ripped from a single piece of wood.
Finish—Stain is Watco Danish oil medium walnut stain. A wash coat of 50% orange and blond shellac was applied next. The first full coat of shellac was also a 50% mixture of orange and blond shellac. Blond shellac was used for the final two coats. Final rub out was done using steel wool with a small amount of furniture wax. This results in a very warm tone for the walnut and allows the grain to show through more than a traditional darker Walnut finish would.
I enjoy making this stuff—hope you like it also.