Ever since Rob Johnstone’s Shaker End Tables graced the cover of the August 2010 issue of Woodworker’s Journal, I’ve had figured maple “on the brain.” If you’ve worked with it before, you know what a treat it is when the finish goes on and the wood’s shimmery chatoyance lights up before your eyes. Who wouldn’t be hooked? So, after almost a year’s wait, Rob agreed to let me give figured maple another “go” on this Shaker-inspired dresser: quilted maple on top and flame maple for carcass, drawers and base. But this practical design could also be made from any other wood species you prefer.
Big dresser drawers like these can get heavy when loaded with clothes, so I employed a couple of strategies to fortify them for long life and easy daily use. First, they ride on undermount ball bearing slides instead of wooden runners. And second, I beefed up their bottoms to 1/2″ plywood — they’ll never sag under load.
Before You Get Started
For this project, the author chose Accuride slides for the drawers. You will need ten total slides for this dresser.
Making the Side Panels
The dresser’s skeleton consists of a pair of dadoed side panels that support five web frames. Start the construction process by gluing up two blanks for these two big panels (pieces 1), making sure they’re flat and square. In order to produce even 1/16″ reveals around the drawer faces of your dresser, this project needs to be accurate right from the start.
I used a slotted, shop-made router jig to guide a plunge router and a 1″ O.D. rub collar for milling the five dadoes in each of the side panels. A 3/4″ straight bit cut them to a final depth of 3/8″ and my jig kept it all straight and true. Notice that the dadoes stop 3/4″ from the front edges of the side panels; a stop block on my jig made these termination points easy to hit. Chisel them square. When the dadoes were tidied up, I cut 1/2″-wide, 3/8″-deep back panel rabbets at the table saw.