16 drawer oak chest.


Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Established Member
UKW Supporter
24 Jun 2012
Reaction score
Fenay Bridge. Huddersfield.

Over the last month I've been busy making my wonderful wife Bronwyn a solid oak chest of 16 drawers for Bron to keep her card making materials in. It's been a true labour of love for the one I love.

I've just finished the drawers and the new metal drawer knobs were bought from China for about a quarter of the price they would have cost here in the UK; £7.50 for twenty of these delightful knobs with free slow boat from China delivery. I used English oak I've had stored for about twenty years; the oak was in lengths just long enough for the drawers and the lengths were 3/4" thick x 3" wide but I had a few left over to cover any mistake. The top panel is four lengths biscuit jointed together; after the glue had dried I used my Stanley #80 to remove excess glue and to bring the top down nice and smooth with ease; much better than lots of power sanding.

I was concerned that the oak at 3/4" thick might be too thin to deep cut giving sufficient thickness for the drawers and runner frames but deep cutting on the bandsaw reduced waste and removing as little as possible through the thicknesser I got away with it ending up with 5/16". The lengths were mixed at 3" and 2 3/4" wide. I thought after so many years being stored at least the oak would be stable as is proved to be.

The drawers ride on solid oak frames designed by me; the frame joints are half laps but the front joints are hidden from view because I made these blind half laps; the joints were cut using a home made jig and big Makita 2,100W router. The sides are made of oak faced 18mm, MDF; the central divider is 18mm ply with a front oak lipping. The trenches were router cut against a home made jig.

Because of the number of comb joints involved I needed every drawer piece to be identical in width and this gave me a real headache because I wanted both edges smooth and parallel one edge would be on show the other glued. Running through the saw then surface planing would be hit or miss and to put such thin stock through the big thicknesser was just asking for an accident? After some thought I wondered if I could use an old trick I use when thicknessing very thin timber on the face; for this I use a simple sled but what if I could use a sled for these standing upright on edge; a bit more thought and why not put multiples through to save time? I rigged up a sled nipping eight pieces of oak standing on edge adding a back stop; the first pass through the thicknesser threw up a problem because the feed rollers were working on the tallest pieces pulling these forward on the sled; a front stop was attached and I was mightily impressed to be able to reduce these pieces in batches of eight to a common size so easily; I've never seen this done previously so was well pleased. Each batch was put through the thicknesser to level the tops then after all the batches had been thus treated they were turned over to complete the thicknessing; I ensured every piece edge was in full contact with the sled by tapping them. I wouldn't though encourage anyone to play around with such ideas or experiments unless they understand the dangers involved.

The drawer sides are solid oak apart from the ply bottoms; these are comb jointed again using a home made jig on my home made router table with Erbauer 2,100W router permanently installed; in order to prevent movement of the locating pin whilst routing the combs I added an outrigger support which prevented the force of the bit deflecting the pin and it worked a treat ensuring nice tight fitting joints; there were 64 comb joints and 64 half laps in this chest to keep me busy. Three biscuits and glue on each side panel and inner divider secure the top panel; the runners are simply secured with six brads each fired from my Bostitch nailer and compressor. The bottom frame was given a simple moulding again using the router and the three pieces are securely glued and screwed into place thereby giving a lot of strength.

The half round mouldings were a real pain to make on the router table using a rounding over bit; I made special guides out of a pair of bearings to guide the very thin oak strips past the cutter; the mitres were done using another jig on my home made 4" belt sander. The thin strips were offcuts being only just thick enough and these can prove highly dangerous on a router table because they can be fired with tremendous force across the garage like arrows; I know because at least two arrows were tried before I got the pressure bearings just right.

I eased the two side edges and front edge of the top panel using my Oakey drum sander. The finish is Colron wood dye in Jacobean dark oak and two coats of extra tough polyurethane matt varnish; no one would guess the finish was varnish and I'm delighted with it; the colour is beautiful. I applied the Colron dye with a cloth using an artists brush to run around the corners to ensure no light lines would show; when the Colron had dried I applied the varnish using a 2" long foam roller and £1 synthetic Harris 1.5" brush; I applied plenty of varnish without flooding and the roller was absolutely perfect; normally applying finish to a narrow edge like a drawer top takes forever with high risk of runs; the roller went over in seconds; the brush applied varnish to the inner beads and corners but the roller then quickly applied the remainder; the varnish was full of millions of small air bubbles but a quick gentle few strokes with the brush cleared these bubbles in no time at all; varnish doesn't like to be played around with otherwise it gets out of control becoming sticky treacle so the thing to do is to get the varnish on rapidly; level it then leave well alone; not a single run or curtain can be seen the roller did a superb job of getting the varnish on evenly. The first varnish coat was flatted using 240G abrasive paper and this made the varnish look terrible but the varnish was dusted using a 2" clean paint brush and a second coat of varnish brought the job to life.

I knew the type of knobs I wanted and spent ages browsing the web until I found them; I used a paper template for marking the screw holes for the knobs to ensure each knob was located correctly. I enjoyed this project the more so because I made it for such a deserving recipient; Bron is over the moon with the drawers and already every drawer is full of card making material; I wonder if I should make more drawers?

Kind regards, Col.

Runner frame..JPG
Runners being installed..JPG
Planing sled..JPG
Comb jointing set up..JPG
Drawer bottoms glued..JPG
Drawer close up..jpg
Finally completed..JPG


  • Runner frame..JPG
    Runner frame..JPG
    183.9 KB · Views: 1,768
  • Runners being installed..JPG
    Runners being installed..JPG
    225.3 KB · Views: 1,768
  • Planing sled..JPG
    Planing sled..JPG
    177.1 KB · Views: 1,768
  • Comb jointing set up..JPG
    Comb jointing set up..JPG
    204.8 KB · Views: 1,768
  • Drawer bottoms glued..JPG
    Drawer bottoms glued..JPG
    226.4 KB · Views: 1,768
  • Drawer close up..jpg
    Drawer close up..jpg
    146 KB · Views: 1,768
  • Finally completed..JPG
    Finally completed..JPG
    153.6 KB · Views: 1,768
  • Bron's new oak drawers..jpg
    Bron's new oak drawers..jpg
    105.8 KB · Views: 1,764
Retired":1c4sg4hk said:
I was concerned that the oak at 3/4" thick might be too thin to deep cut giving sufficient thickness for the drawers and runner frames but deep cutting on the bandsaw reduced waste and removing as little as possible through the thicknesser I got away with it ending up with 5/16".

You dodged a bullet there, deep ripping a 3/4" board into two 5/16" boards requires the woodworking gods to be firmly on your side!

Nice job by the way, and it seems you went about in a very methodical, patient, and craftsmanlike fashion.
A cracking piece of furniture with An excellent and concise WIP, and pics too!
Would I be right in assuming you won't have to do the dishes for some considerable time?
Thanks and regards Rodders

Thanks guys for your kind comments which I appreciate.

You could always surprise your wife griggs and make her such a chest of drawers; it's sure to please.

You sure are right custard; I spent quite a while setting the Wilmac bandsaw up to deep cut the oak and only just got away with it; it was touch and go though and I was constantly on edge as I fed the oak into the blade. I've owned a number of band-saws over the years including a huge Startrite Volant 24" ten speed model with its on-board blade welder and grinder; however I've had lots of trouble whilst trying to deep cut due to the cut having a mind of its own wandering all over the place. One day I was browsing YouTube and came across the following tutorial video from a guy (Alex) who appeared to know what he was talking about; I set my bandsaw up carefully following Alex's instructions and using a 1/4" wide blade the results can be seen from me deep cutting this oak;


Thanks Rodders; I'm chief dishwasher so it doesn't bother me but Bron is well pleased with the drawers and is using them as though she's had them for years. I designed the drawers to fit into the space they are seen in making them long by narrow; the internal drawer size is a comfortable A4 which reminds me; here are the overall dimensions; Top is 30" x 11" x 3/4" the carcase is 28 1/2" x 9 7/8" total height is 25 1/2".

Kind regards, Col.
What a lovely piece, that's right up my street.
You've got to be pleased with that, well done =D>