Bedroom Chest: Finished

The bedroom chest is finally finished. I seem to say that about every project. My first post was in January of 2017, so it took five years. This is the first time I made frame and panel doors, or sliding doors.

I made the cabinet out of maple: quarter sawn hard maple for the case and frames, and spalted quilted maple for the door fronts. Notice how it seems to float above the floor?
We need to be able to move the cabinet easily for changing the bed, so it’s on wheels. The front wheels hide behind the apron. The rear wheels are exposed at the back so we can flip the wheel brakes on and off.
The interior has holes for shelf pins: two columns on each side, and one right down the center of the back. It turns out, the back, which I made for 1/2″ plywood, was not thick enough, and when I drilled the holes for the shelf pin sleeves, it created a series of holes in the plywood.
To cover the holes I added a strip down the center of the back, making it look as if the back is made from two panels. I had originally had a naive idea that I could cut the plywood to fit exactly the the rabbet at the back. When faced with reality I covered the gap between the back and the case using a tiny strip of cherry wood, which creates a nice framed look. It’s looks much better with that divider in the center, so evidently the problem created by the shelf pins was a good thing.
The top features a backsplash to keep stuff off the bed, and I thought it would be interesting to make a smooth transition between the top and backsplash, which I did by applying an extra strip and planing it down. I think this technique worked quite well.
Left drawer closeup.
Center drawers.
Right hand drawer.
Here are the little drawers pulled out, showing their red oak solid wood drawer bottoms.
On my game table I used handles with a bevel on the underside. For this piece I thought the drawers might need a handle that is less effort to pull. After some experimentation I settled on this rabbet handle design, which is very easy to grip with just fingertips. Here you can see the spalt lines running through the end grain of the handle.
For the small handles, the shape is similar, but a little more angled to provide more room for the fingers in a handle that sticks out less from the drawer front.
The right hand drawer handle.
Left hand drawer handle close up.
Right hand drawer handle close up. These handles came from the same board, just a few inches apart!
The joinery on a large drawer features a funny looking half-tail at the bottom. This allowed me to get the drawer bottom lower in the drawer. But this half-tail is harder to cut than a regular joint. It’s more visible from the bottom of the drawer as well.
Here’s the drawer bottom, made of ash. The drawer sides for this project were cherry and the bottoms ash and oak, all made from wood I had lying around the shop.
Here are the dovetails on the small drawers. The spalting in the pin is interesting. The drawers are all side hung. Side hung drawers turn out to be nightmarishly difficult to install. The rails need to be perfectly parallel and the same height. I drilled and filled the screw holes for those side rails many times. This has made me wonder whether some of the difficulties I’ve had with metal drawer slides aren’t because they are metal, but because they are side mounted. The drawers do not move as nicely as the bottom mounted or box-in-a-hole type drawers I used on the game table.
I made the sliding door with a rabbet on the bottom. The weight of the door rests on the rabbet, not on the part of the door that fits into the track. The door does not touch the bottom of the track, so dust and crud in the track should not have much effect on the door’s movement. The need to cut this rabbet is one of the reasons I constructed the doors with rails (horizontal parts of the frame) running the full width instead of the more conventional manner, where the stiles (vertical parts of the frame) run the full height. The sliding doors move easily with a single finger in their hexagonal pulls.
The underside was never meant to be seen, but someone asked about how the wheels and skirt were constructed, so here’s an ugly shot from underneath showing the hidden wheels and the skirt (and secret dovetails). I made the skirt by gluing the front piece onto the cabinet and then gluing the side pieces on just at the front, and using screws through oval holes at the back to allow for wood movement.
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3 thoughts on “Bedroom Chest: Finished

  1. “The weight of the door rests on the rabbet, not on the part of the door that fits into the track. The door does not touch the bottom of the track, so dust and crud in the track should not have much effect on the door’s movement.” If I understand clearly what you’ve written, between the tongue and the groove, there is a gap. I don’t see, however, how this alone reduces the problems of crud and accumulation in groove. For this arrangement, keeping the groove cleaned out occasionally is still necessary. Did you consider drilling a through hole to allow for any such accumulation to move easily drop out through normal opening and closing actions? I’ve pondered how to best implement a sliding door section and my main problem is that any new user would need to relearn how to maintain this mechanism properly. I really like your decision to orient the foor panels horizontally in this arrangement. Would you mind posting some images of the wheels and the skirt arrangements work and how you came up with such a design if it’s not too much of a hurdle

    • Yes, the tongue does not fill the groove, so there is a space at the bottom of the groove. Time will tell how well this works. It seems like a lot of crud will have to accumulate before it will affect the movement, and even then it will mainly affect closing at the ends. It also seems like the need for cleaning will be pretty obvious, and a pretty half-dash cleaning job will suffice to get it working again. If the tongue bottomed out in the groove it wouldn’t take much crud to degrade the delightful smooth motion of the doors, and the cleaning would have to be better done. The idea of drilling “drainage holes” did not occur to me. It seems like it would probably work, except for maybe hair? But I think it would look funny. I posted an underside shot showing the skirt and wheels. Are you asking how I came up with that idea? I wanted to hide the unsightly wheels. I have seen office furniture with invisible wheels, so the idea of putting wheels behind the skirt was obvious. But we needed to be able to access the brakes on the back wheels, so I had to leave a space for the back wheels outside the skirt.

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