Beefing up a cheap dresser
#11
  
I found a dresser drawer on my chair tonight and took that as an assignment.  It's from a dresser my wife has had since she was a girl and I'm surprised it is still hanging together.  Anyhow - one drawer is close to terminal and several others aren't far behind.  The drawers are 32" X 13" X 6" with a false front, usually holding clothes and linens.  The bottom is 1/8" ply while the sides are slightly over 3/8" thick of some soft wood with hardwood runners along the bottom edge.  The bottom sets in a dado in the front and ends and nailed to the bottom edge of the back with 3 nails. The dado is about 3/16" deep and 3/8" from the bottom edge. The corners are simple butt joints with the ends nailed into the back and front with 3 nails in each joint.

The drawer rests on the bottom edges of the ends.  There is little room between the case and the ends of the drawer, but roughly an inch of space between the back of the drawer and the back of the cabinet.

The nails aren't adequate to hold the ends tight to the front and back so there's enough play for the thin ply bottom to pop out of the dado and make it difficult to open the drawer.

I was able to pull the three nails out of the back edge of the bottom and slide it out.  I tapped all the nails back in that hold the butt joints and slide the bottom back in so it looks pretty good right now, but I bet as soon as it is back in the dresser and loaded up we'll be right back where we started.

My thoughts right now are to add some glue blocks to the inside corners and maybe slips along the bottom, but I'm thinking that may not work long term because of wood movement with the corner blocks being cross-grain.  Also thinking of replacing the nails with pneumatic staples (1"?) or screws for better holding power.

Any suggestions beside putting it outside and lighting it on fire?  LOML is attached to it so I'd like to make a decent job of it.

Phil
Reply
#12
  Re: Beefing up a cheap dresser by Phil S. (I found a dresser dr...)
IF the drawer has a false front, and IF it has value to your wife....I'd build new drawer boxes instead of trying to repair the ones there. With a false front it wouldn't be hard to get everything looking as it was, and a hell of a lot more sturdy.
I started with absolutely nothing. Now, thanks to years of hard work, careful planning, and perseverance, I find I still have most of it left.
Reply
#13
  Re: RE: Beefing up a cheap dresser by fredhargis (IF the drawer has a ...)
Phil,  while building new boxes would work,  I would at least try to make the existing boxes work, and if that fails, make new ones.  Wood movement should not be an issue, as you described it there is no cross grain construction.  That is, the plywood should not expand and contract, nor will the long grain of the sides or back.  You have several options.  One is to follow the approach you laid out, with corner blocks and just reassembly.  Another is to make a new bottom out of 1/2 inch ply, then rabbet all the edges to get them to fit into the dados.  Using 1/2 inch stock may make the drawer more rigid, especially if it gets loaded with heavy clothes.
Reply
#14
  Re: Beefing up a cheap dresser by Phil S. (I found a dresser dr...)
Consider removing the nails, gluing and through-doweling to replace the nails.  You will have to use (probably) 3/16" diameter dowels. 

Trim flush and sand. 


No animals were injured or killed in the production of this post.
Reply
#15
  Re: Beefing up a cheap dresser by Phil S. (I found a dresser dr...)
I agree. Try to repair first. Then, build new if needed. I would just add to the above regarding the use of dowels, It might be easier to remove all the nails and the glue and clamp all the butt joints. Make sure everything is square during this glue-up. This will give you enough strength and stability to make it easier to drill and drive the dowels. Don't skimp on the dowels. And, since they will be so small, get some hardwood ones like maple or oak.
Reply
#16
  Re: Beefing up a cheap dresser by Phil S. (I found a dresser dr...)
Do you have a couple of pictures?

Doug
Reply
#17
  Re: Beefing up a cheap dresser by Phil S. (I found a dresser dr...)
Thanks for the feedback fellas.  I went with rebuilding the existing box. The nails holding the bottom to back board had split the board. The grain also ran off the edge of the back board leading to more splitting so I needed to strengthen that. I had some ash slats from a previous project so I glued a piece about 1/8" X 1-1/4" to both faces of the back along the bottom edge. Clamped it well to press the splits together With glue to keep it that way.  I tapped the butt joints apart and squeezed in a dose of Titebond, re-nailed it and clamped it overnight.  Today I drilled 6 holes through each butt joint about an inch apart and tapped in 3/16" dowels with more Titebond, each with an opposing angle to give a mechanical advantage to the joint.  I looked at using 1/4" dowels, but didn't like how little was left in the 3/8" sides so went with the smaller ones. Trimmed them with a flush cut saw and sanded them a bit to clean up any roughness.  Slid the plywood bottom back into the slot and drove the nails back in.  When all was said and done the drawer felt pretty rigid.  We'll see how it holds up once it is loaded up and used for a while. Like I said, my wife got it secondhand when she was a girl and she qualifies for Medicare now. If my fix holds up as well as the original, somebody else will have to fix it next time. :winkgrin:

Phil
Reply
#18
  Re: Beefing up a cheap dresser by Phil S. (I found a dresser dr...)
Hmmm - can't get pictures to work and now emojis have let me down too.  Have to go back to an envelop and stamps Rolleyes
Reply
#19
  Re: Beefing up a cheap dresser by Phil S. (I found a dresser dr...)
If you want to add some more strength to the drawers you can take a 3/8" thick board and rip it into a triangle shaped "dowel".  Cut that strip to length equal to the height of the  drawer and glue on the interior. 

You can also glue a 2" length in the middle of the underside of the drawer to keep the sides from bowing out.  Placing the glued pieces in the middle will eliminate the need for the nails at the rear.  This will allow for expansion and contraction and still anchor the sides to the bottom.

This is what I am talking about when I say "triangular dowels".



I've only ever seen commercially available ones in balsa and I would not think that would be ideal. You could use square dowels  which are easily available but the triangular ones would look better.

In hobby shops they sell quarter round molding in bass wood, which would probably be ok for this application.  Look in the doll house section for the molding.
No animals were injured or killed in the production of this post.
Reply
#20
  Re: Beefing up a cheap dresser by Phil S. (I found a dresser dr...)
I thought about gluing block like these in the corners.  They would end up cross grain, but maybe he amount of movement in a 6" tall drawer wouldn't be enough to create a problem.  For the moment, the drawer is back in the dresser and full of stuff, but if it fails again this might be the fallback.

Phil
Reply


Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)