Have you ever had one of those projects that drags on for eons and seems to mock you as you walk past it? This is my tale of woes about the dresser, which mocks me. You might wanna get comfy.
The year is 2010. It’s a snowy January evening. My wife is a few months pregnant with our first child. Her maternal instincts kicked in and she convinces me not to build the 3-n-1 crib; after all, there was significant consequences if I missed the deadline. However, we were both naive enough to think I could complete a matching dresser in a relatively timely manner. At the time, I was just starting to get serious about woodworking but hadn’t built anything complicated (i.e. sans paint, not for the shop, or bigger than a cutting board). I had just completed the largest thing I’d ever built, Bob Lang’s 21st Century Workbench, so I was a bit cocky. Clearly, I could tackle the dresser and have it ready by August when the little one arrived. Sigh…
The first step was to figure out what type of dresser we wanted. While surfing Lumberjocks, I came across this design. My wife leaned over and said, “that’s it.” Needless to say, I scored the mother load with this one because the original design was from Patrick Jaromin (shout out to Patrick). His blog had a sketchup file, great pictures, and plenty of information to build the dresser. Like always, we didn’t want an exact copy; but both of us liked the proportions and knew this was the basis for our daughter’s dresser. Tick. Tick. Tick.
February rolls around and I get a little side tracked. Marc announces the first guild build. It’s a small Shaker table. I get caught up in the Woodworker’s for Cancer part and say if Dwyane can do this, so can I. It ends up being a great experience and I learned a few things along the way. I get it completed around April. Tick. Tick. Tick.
May rolls around and I have enough chutzpah to buy some lumber. To date, this is the largest amount of money I’ve ever plunked down on lumber. I buy a bunch of cherry and one sheet of premo cherry plywood. Here it is stacked in my old shop.
Shortly after this, the next guild build comes around and it’s for a chest of drawers. Awesome right? Not really. My design is much different from Marc’s and I’ve already purchased a ton of expensive lumber. This is the first place my design and inexperience rears itself. My 3/4″ ply was supposed to be for the top and side panels. I wanted to do dadoes into the side panels and then use them to house web frames made of 1/2″ plywood. Wrong! The 1/2″ plywood at 58″ long makes for some flimsy web frames. Tick. Tick. Tick.
August arrived and little to no progress was made on the dresser. A few projects for the nursery (bookcase and side table) came up, which turned out great. But then I learned what it’s like to work with a child in the house. Snail’s pace fo shizzle. Tick. Tick. Tick.
By winter 2011, I had made progress on the carcase. Mortise and tenons were cut, the side panels were shaped to match the crib, and the dry fit seemed pretty good. I wanted to glue it up but I wasn’t sure everything was right. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Spring and Summer of 2011 were dedicated to finding a new job in a different city and selling our old house. My shop went into storage for about six months. In fact, my planer, tablesaw, and jointer stayed off for nearly a year. Tick. Tick. Tick.
I revisited this project after completing my wife’s project table last Christmas. You may recall the top to her project table is the premo cherry plywood I mentioned before; therefore, I need a new idea for the top. I cobbled together an assembly table from a wobbly workbench left by the previous owner and dry assembled the pieces. Here are some pics of the dresser assembled. Sorry for the fuzziness; again, I wasn’t blogging at the time.
After hemming and hawing with it for well over a month, I still wasn’t confident I could glue it up and have everything turn out with design approach I’d chose. I took it apart, stored it under the wobbly assembly table and started working on the Fridge and Mini Franklin’s Tower. It was the right decision because after completing two successful projects, I have gained some confidence.
I think I might tackle this project next. Of course, I’m apprehensive about designing on the fly, plus I have many more things to teach myself like dovetails, fitting multiple drawers, and the biggest glue up EVER. Being inspired by my new blogging buddy Jim Abbruzzese, I think I’m going to tackle dovetails first and then just take this project little by little so I can stop listening to it mock me every time I turn the lights on and walk past it.
Wish me luck.