Assembling the Carcass
You’re nearly ready to turn some loose parts into a carcass, but not before making the drawer divider. It’s a two-piece assembly of a vertically oriented front edge (piece 4) joined by a tongue and groove to a longer horizontal rear member (piece 5). Again, my front edge was flame maple to match the web frame stretchers. But even if you build your dresser from plain-figured stock, make your divider’s “show edge” from edge-grain stock and not end grain. That would soak up more finish and stick out like a sore thumb between the upper drawers. Notch the top and bottom front corners of the divider to fit into the stretchers’ stopped dadoes.
Start assembling the carcass by gluing and screwing the drawer divider between the two top web frames to form a subassembly. While that glue dried, I made several long braces from MDF and outfitted them with dadoes that matched the dado placement on the side panels. Clamped in place, these would hold my web frames vertically as well as square and parallel to one another as I assembled the big case. They really helped, since this is a rather unwieldly assembly. You can see how I employed the braces in the bottom left photo on this page.
To carry out the glue-up, I laid one side panel on the bench, set the drawer divider assembly in place in its dry dadoes and stacked the web frames on edge so I could install them one by one. Starting with the bottom web frame, I spread glue along only the first six inches of the dado (this allows the side panels to expand to the rear without cracking the panel or breaking a longer glue joint). I clamped the frame to two braces and pinned it to the side panel with several 1-1⁄2″ brads. These were driven through the frame and into the end of the side panel.
Continuing to work up from the bottom, the third and second web frames came next. Each was fitted into its dadoes in the MDF braces and rested in a 6″ bead of glue in the side-panel dadoes. The difference here, was that I drove shorter 1″ brads at a steep angle through the bottom edges of the web frames to pin them to the side panel. Three evenly spaced brads were sufficient. Last to glue and pin in place was the drawer divider subassembly. As you install each frame, make sure the front edge lines up flush with the front of the side panel. (Note: The web frames are actually 1/4″ narrower than the lengths of the side panel dadoes; this is by design to facilitate side-panel wood movement.) Glue and pin the other side panel into place.
Measure against your glued-up carcass to size and cut your dresser’s back panel to shape. I installed mine at this point when I unclamped the braces to help square things while the glue joints set. However, don’t install it permanently. I used six screws for temporary attachment. You’ll appreciate the ability to pull this panel off when mounting the slides.
Prepare your dresser’s top panel (piece 7) and set it aside for now. I routed the edges with a gentle bullnose profile.