Chest of Drawers: Episode 1


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In this first episode of the Chest of Drawers series Paul shows how to pick and prepare the wood for the sides and top of the dresser. Paul discusses his preferences for the exact configuration of the boards that make up the glued panels. He also edge joints and glues up those same panels ready for the first stages of construction.


  1. dovetails on 8 February 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Great lesson thank you. Attention to detail when selecting pieces for panels is absolutely something I need to improve on. I can’t get enough of these video’s. Thanks.

  2. Allanhyde on 8 February 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Lovely video! Thanks so much for this. Inspiring, educational and even meditative! Really enjoy the attention to detail and the thoroughness and patience that goes into to every step of your process. Looking forward to the next video!

  3. arnold on 8 February 2017 at 2:32 pm

    got to love that man love watching him work

  4. bdmellon on 8 February 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Greatly appreciate the logical order and presentation of the steps and the rationale behind the process. Enjoying this very much!

  5. rnieuwenhuijs on 8 February 2017 at 6:31 pm

    A great video and I’m looking forward to this project. I noticed that the boards for the top panel are not all the same width. I can imagine this is determined by the wood available. But Is having equal widths something you would strive for if you had the available wood? And does having unequal widths have any influence on the choice of where to position them? (I noticed the narrower boards were put towards the back of the panel).

  6. Thomas Bittner on 8 February 2017 at 7:12 pm

    I’d better run out and get some more clamps!
    While I’m at it I need to get some plastic wrap as well.

  7. kaetwo on 8 February 2017 at 9:59 pm

    Thanks so much for taking the time to explain how you treat the wood (by shrink wrapping it) after it’s been dimensioned and how you store it for later use in the clamps. I wrote to your team a bit ago about this very subject and you where kind enough to answer the question on your Q&A videos on Youtube. This video complimented and helped explain that process even further so thank you.

    Great video as always.


  8. Eddy Flynn on 8 February 2017 at 11:46 pm

    hi Paul do you ever set your boards out using the “smiles and frowns” method (grain orientation) over the way they look next to one another.

    • Clifford on 9 February 2017 at 2:26 am

      I had this same question.

    • Philip Adams on 13 February 2017 at 9:41 am

      Hello @edfly & @narrs,
      We don’t take that into consideration. It is used particularly in industry when jointing narrow stock. It is less of a consideration for hand tool furniture making.

  9. sodbuster on 9 February 2017 at 1:50 am

    Hi Paul. In the “fast-forward” section of the video, I noticed that you used some F-clamps on the ends of the boards when you planed the edges. I assume that is because the ends of the boards fanned out and needed to be brought back into contact as you prepared to plane them for edge-jointing.

    Would you care to comment on that little aspect of the edge-jointing process for longer boards? I would be keen to pick up any hints & tips you may have on that.

    Many thanks,

    • ehisey on 11 February 2017 at 11:55 pm

      Seen Paul do this before in a video. If I recall correctly is was because of slight bow in the boards. The clamps flush them together to ensure a proper jointing.

      • Philip Adams on 13 February 2017 at 9:50 am

        @ehisey that is correct. Sometimes this happens over longer boards, but once glued up and in place in the dresser, it won’t cause any issues.

  10. Sandy on 9 February 2017 at 1:59 am

    I am always amazed at the amount of patients Paul has with fitting the joints of this type panels. I’d always had a tendency to squeeze the gaps out of the joints instead of fitting. This method creates a lot less problems later when you un-clamp and start to surface plane. I’m going to enjoy this project very much, not just because it’s new, but because I need another chest of drawers! Perfect timing.

  11. joeleonetti on 9 February 2017 at 4:21 am

    Thanks Paul. Providing the why and what’s going through your mind as you lay out the board orientation is as useful to me as the technical instructions on the tool work portions.

  12. Farred on 9 February 2017 at 7:51 pm

    I’m only half way thru the video, but am wondering about grain orientation–that is, Paul took no consideration about all the boards go with the grain (for planing purposes), unless they are dimensioned so close that he only needs to scrape the glue joints.

    • Sandy on 10 February 2017 at 1:55 am

      I was wondering the same thing. I’ve tried to consider the grain direction in my panels and it definitely makes finishing a lot easier. I’ll be interested to see a response on this one.

    • Philip Adams on 13 February 2017 at 9:52 am

      With this stock, there would always have been adverse grain. If there are issues with alternate grain direction, Paul would use a scraper. It is a case by case consideration. If the grain where more consistent, and the grain appearance also matched, there may well be a benefit in aligning the grain.

  13. knightlylad on 9 February 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Thank you for the lesson.

  14. jamestrang on 10 February 2017 at 2:57 pm

    My sense in all the PS videos I’ve watched, Paul is always considering grain orientation.

    Given various blog entries (found two quickly in December 2016 – 22nd, 23rd) and this particular episode, I’m taking away being ok with not being so fussed with grain orientation to keep the panel flat, and/or to simplify finishing etc. to a point where those considerations override my preference for what i would view as the optimal grain orientation for the visual look of the panel. I just need to make the necessary adjustments (Keeping tools sharp, reach for alternative tools, adjusting technique) to get the final panel that I want.

    I was surprised with the ending, no not a cliffhanger, but with the sequencing of the work. I was expecting next steps would be joining the panels, not leaving them in clamps and moving on to the various rails etc.

  15. grafeo on 10 February 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Mr. Sellers,
    you are the Man! I can’t express how much I enjoy your videos and your ability to teach is incredible. I get very motivated seeing the way you work. So simple, yet very effective. God bless you and I am working to improve everyday.

  16. 5ivestring on 11 February 2017 at 4:09 am

    When you ripped that first board, there wasn’t that much to remove, or so it looked to me. Wouldn’t it have faster and easier to plane it down? Especially with a scrub plane.

    • Philip Adams on 13 February 2017 at 9:57 am

      Hello Gary,
      It’s very much a matter of choice and is dependant on the wood you are working on and how easily it planes. But go for it.

  17. Ajit Mistry on 11 February 2017 at 5:04 am

    I’ve only built the workbench project before. would this this be too advanced a project to jump to?


    • Philip Adams on 13 February 2017 at 10:05 am

      I would recommend working on a few projects more basic projects that cover the different techniques used in this project. The wallclock, dovetail boxes and how to make a table are a great small projects with housing dadoes, dovetails and mortise and tenons. I would also consider making a tool chest as a longer project with frames and drawers if you have the time and need somewhere to store your tools.
      Hope that helps.

  18. joeleonetti on 15 February 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I want to make this project out of white oak (to match other bedroom furniture). Being still on the new side, is there any pro or con to using quarter sawn oak vs “regular” saw (what Paul has in this project)? To new to know if due to wood movement it would make a difference. Many thanks.

  19. abtuser on 19 February 2017 at 2:17 am

    Like the shrink wrapped wood idea. I have a veneer vacuum press system, maybe use those bags as they’re reusable, with the pump to wrap the wood.

    Another really nice video.

  20. chubbard on 6 March 2017 at 4:58 am

    I have a question about stock preparation. If I had the space and the money, I would definitely do the initial dimensioning of the boards with a jointer and a surface planer. But I don’t have that luxury right now.

    Several months ago, I completed my version of the Sofa Table project from 2014. For that, my table top was constructed from a two panel glue-up of Peruvian walnut. Unfortunately, the two boards were of different thicknesses. Laying the boards into the clamps put the bottom faces at the same level, but the top faces were mismatched by as much as an 1/8th of an inch. Once the glue-up was dry, I pretended my No. 4 was a scrub plane, and leveled the top surface with a series of diagonal passes across the table top until I was removing material from both boards. Then I tried to carefully refine the resulting surface first with my No. 5, and then (after resharpening from the abuse of pretending to be a scrub plane) my No. 4. The result, tested against the granite top of our kitchen island, appeared to be dead flat, for which I was very happy. But the hand-planing to get it that way just about killed me! Also, although the end result did seem to be even thickness across the table top, that was absolutely luck. I think the two faces could have just as easily NOT have been parallel. Getting one face flat I understand. Getting both faces flat AND parallel to each other, that I don’t really know how to do. I just got lucky on the sofa table.

    So, my question is, when even the raw stock needs to be dimensioned entirely by hand, is it better to not worry about board thickness until *after* the glue-up (as I did with the sofa table top), or should I try to get the individual boards flat and all the same thickness first, and then do the glue-up? Are there special techniques I should be employing?

    • Philip Adams on 7 March 2017 at 4:11 pm

      Hi Charles (@chubbard),
      Paul’s recommendations were: If you have different sized stock to start with go with what you have if the design still works. In the event of varying thickness, scrub pre edge jointing and smooth after.
      Hope that’s what you needed.

      • chubbard on 7 March 2017 at 4:22 pm

        Thank you, Phil. I appreciate the quick response. Sounds like I did things exactly backwards on the table top! Good to know for next time.

  21. quodlibet on 25 March 2017 at 8:43 pm

    I love the inclusion of the time lapse. Much nicer than just cutting to the end of the work. Pleas include more!

  22. BJMc99 on 30 March 2017 at 9:20 pm

    From a historical perspective, plastic wrap is a recent inovation. What was used in the past? Oil paper, oil clothes, waxed brown paper?

  23. bmorriswalks on 31 March 2017 at 4:07 am

    love the large wire-bound notebook Paul uses for his plans – any chance we could get a hint about the source ?

  24. joeleonetti on 4 April 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Could you please consider showing us in a future series (not all of them) the squaring of the stock with electrically powered tools? I have been woodworking for a little over a year following your master class series exclusively. I have become confident at dimensioning stock with hand tools. If I were to get any power tools in the future, it would be for the dimensioning of the wood to make it square and straight. I don’t know how to do this by electrically powered tools and would find your instruction quite helpful. Thank you for your consideration.
    Joe Leonetti

  25. Andrew LeRoy on 5 November 2017 at 9:03 am

    Hi Phil / Paul,

    I realize the stock was prepared to rough size prior to the gluing of the panels, but were they hand planed for face side and edge or will they be cleaned up later? I did not see either of those marks on the boards.

    Thanks in advance,


  26. Stephen Tyrrell on 24 November 2020 at 1:50 pm

    Who has the capacity to shrink wrap wood?

    • Derek Plattsmier on 6 June 2022 at 3:58 am

      @ Stephen Tyrrell
      I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “who has the capacity”. Shrink wrap is relatively inexpensive (especially if bought in cases, like a box of four rolls for example), and it does make a difference. If you’re referring to the physical space required to shrink wrap boards – it can be done in the same area one works the wood & builds projects, in my experience. I’ve been doing it now for five years & have noticed a fewer issues with my boards cupping/warping. I don’t know if this helped, just thought I’d try.

  27. Benoît Van Noten on 22 June 2022 at 3:23 pm

    The idea is to wrap the panel to protect it from cupping/warping by minimising humidity change.
    The film doesn’t need to be really shrinkable.
    Kitchen stretchable (or even simple) film will do.

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