Building the Web Frames
The five web frames won’t benefit from a face frame to help true up their front stretchers, so be sure to surface your rails and stretchers (pieces 2 and 3) dead flat. It’s also important to match the web frame stock thickness carefully to the dado width on the side panels; you want a good friction fit of the frames in their dadoes to help strengthen the carcass.
Since I planned to use flame maple for the drawer faces, I made my five front web frame stretchers from flame maple as well, instead of the plain maple I used for the rear stretchers and rails. It’s a small detail, but one that helps to harmonize the overall face of the project.
I settled on mortise and tenon joinery to attach the frame parts — these stout connections will prevent the frames from racking and ensure nice, square carcass corners. I stepped to my mortising machine to cut 1/4″-wide, 1-1⁄2″-long mortises on the inside edges of the stretchers, 1-1⁄4″ deep. The rail tenons were easy to whip into shape at the table saw.
You could assemble the five web frames and then nibble their front corners to fit around the stopped side panel dadoes, but I notched the stretchers first at the table saw. I didn’t want to wrestle those big frames vertically against my miter gauge. Now glue up the web frames. To speed the clamping process, I pinned the joints with a few 5/8″ brads.
Next, I reached for my slotted routing jig again to plow dadoes across the inside faces of the four top stretchers; they hold the vertical drawer divider square and lock it in place. The front two stretchers on this pair of frames have stopped dadoes, just like the side panels. The drawer divider fits into and around them. Chisel these two dadoes square.
Wrap up the web frames with one final step: select one as the topmost frame, and outfit it with pilot holes for screwing the dresser’s top panel in place later. I drilled four evenly spaced holes along the front. Then I routed a series of 1/2″-long slotted screw holes in the rails and rear stretcher, all oriented parallel with the rails. This way, the top panel can move seasonally toward the rear but still show a consistent overhang in front year-round.