Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cherry Side by Side Dresser #2, and Remembering #1

The last time that I made this dresser was 1999.  I received a deposit for the dresser and a wardrobe and purchased all of the needed lumber for the project in September, 1998.   I happened to also be closing up my rented shop at the time, put all into storage, and began to build my house on land that we had purchased.  The following March, I had completed the house enough to live in and to have my workshop in the downstairs.  During the building process, I had lived on the remaining portion of the deposit.  Once the shop was workable,  I built the dresser and wardrobe in the new space.  Everything worked out nicely and since then, I have built a separate shop and one day I will even finish trimming out the house.   

During the building of this second piece, things were not so dramatic.  Just driving kids to and from school, daycare, soccer and music lessons.

A piece of this size is always a big project. When I started this one, I was happy that I had already built the piece before.  The first time through, I had figured out how to build such a large case piece while making it strong enough to be rigid under it's own weight.  This piece is very stiff and strong. I can sleep at night when I think about how it is built.  When many months are invested in a piece, you need to be confident that it is done right or the worry will wear you down.

Lots of hand cut dovetails on this piece.

Even having made many case pieces over the years,  I am always trying to make things the best that I can.  Before finishing the inside of the piece and the drawers, I consulted my peers in the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers via email.  I asked what others felt was the best way to treat the drawers so that they slide their best.  There were many responses, mostly including, paraffin, raw or shellac interiors.  I finally decided on a single wash coat of shellac on the inside of the drawer to make it easier to clean.  I did the same to the outside of the drawer to give it a dry slippery feeling and then rubbed on paraffin from a block onto all bearing surfaces on the drawer and inside the case which remains unfinished. The shellac has a bit of a sweet fresh smell and the paraffin has no smell.  I am very happy with the results.  I recommend that everyone have a block of paraffin around the house as it will make any wood on wood drawer slide easier without the smell of solvents that you get with most paste waxes.
drawers with poplar sides and back, pine bottoms

drawers are made from one piece of wood across the face of the chest

face frames are dovetailed 

The back is ship lapped poplar with hand holds cut into the back just under a drawer  frame.  You push the drawer out a bit and grab above the drawer in the front of the dresser with the other hand.  This piece can be scooted around with two strong people in this way. For actual moving, I recommend taking all of the drawers out. This takes a lot of weight out.
The outside of this piece is finished with a linseed oil based danish oil and given a coat of paste wax.  It is brand new in these photos and will darken down quite a bit after a few months.

Enjoy the cooler weather. Water the garden. Go sailing.
My 5 year old is learning to steer our daysailer and our 11 year old is off living in a Tee Pee for three weeks.  Yesterday from the breakfast table we watched a young bunny in the yard running in circles in the fresh dirt around a newly planted rhubarb plant.  It would circle 3 or 4 times, stop and then do it again.  Very entertaining.  And no, he did not appear to eating the leaves.

The trim on the house will have to wait.  Enjoy the summer.