Chest of Drawers: Episode 4


This is an episode in a paid series. Want to watch it? You just need to sign up as a paid member and you can enjoy this video and many other videos we think you will love.

In this project, Paul uses frames to support the drawers. The first step is to cut the through housings into the side that will take the frames. Paul shows a few different techniques including using the saw. Then we can layout and cut the frame mortises and tenons that will provide the rigidity and strength of the drawers while allowing for expansion and contraction.


  1. bytesplice on 1 March 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks. About the gap when marking the side rail shoulders –
    I would have guessed there would be much more movement than 1/8 inch over the 18 inch length.
    How did you come up with the 1/8 gap on the shoulders?
    How much would the cap vary if the case were, say Maple?

    Great episode.

  2. tobinsj on 2 March 2017 at 6:03 am

    Can you do a video on how you sharpen your router blade? Being that it’s curved 90 degrees, it seems like it would be difficult do to the same way you do your chisels and plane irons.

  3. kjellhar on 2 March 2017 at 7:53 am

    When you cut the tenon, you cut at an angle away from the line. I didn’t get why. You made a point of it, but I can’t see what it is. After all, you flatten the tenon faces down to the line later using the router plane.

    As far as I can tell, the end result is the same as when you saw down parallel to the line.

    • Philip Adams on 2 March 2017 at 12:18 pm

      @kjellhar, the aim is to leave a little material to enable fitting with a router. The router ensures that the tenon is centred, and you can remove stock gradually to get an accurate fit. If cutting to the line with the saw, you have to be careful not to take too much off and end up with a loose tenon.
      Best, Phil

      • kjellhar on 2 March 2017 at 1:44 pm

        Hi Phil, no argue there. I’m just wondering why the angle away. I have seen Paul cutting a shipload of tenons through all the classes, and he always cut away from, but parallel to the line, leaving some material to be taken off with the router. This is also the way I have adopted myself. This method also enables you to remove stock equally from both sides with a router. In other words, no difference in practice.

        I was just curious if there was another reason for this slightly different method

        • mbrxjepp on 3 March 2017 at 11:11 pm

          This is a good question, I’d also be curious to know why not to cut away but parallel.

        • ehisey on 4 March 2017 at 5:06 am

          While similar in to parallel cutting, doing the sloped cut will help center the tenon in the mortise and should make getting centered and tight joints a little simpler for folks with less than great cutting skill. The slope pretty much guarantees the front of the tenon will always fit into the mortise, and also insures enough girth at the base to make a snug fit even for a bad saw job.

    • Nick Latraille on 23 June 2020 at 9:30 pm

      Because it is much easier to remove waste from a tenon that way, conversely if you accidentally slope your cut the opposite way (when trying to cut parallel) the waste is much harder to recover with a chisel…or router…sorry if that didn’t make much sense lol

  4. knightlylad on 2 March 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Thank you for the lesson.

  5. charmston on 3 March 2017 at 1:15 am

    Very helpful session. I particularly liked the brass jig to help cut the mortise and tenons.

  6. mbrxjepp on 3 March 2017 at 11:14 pm

    There was a good 5 minutes of time lapse in this video. I’d have much rather that time was used to reduce cuts in continuity.

  7. jasonwb on 4 March 2017 at 5:58 am

    Thank you Paul and team! Another great video lesson.
    I would like to ask a question about the side rails.
    The side divider rail shoulders are cut 1/8 inch short to allow for expansion and contraction. The length of the side divider rail remains the same. Thus the back tenon now has a length of 1 5/8 inch. But this would eliminate the gap for movement. The tenon would bottom out in the mortise. Shouldn’t we cut the tenon length down to 1 1/2 inches? To restate: cut both the shoulder and the tenon 1/8 inch less.

    • Philip Adams on 7 March 2017 at 4:16 pm

      You can either shorten the tenon or deepen the mortise. Paul’s mortise was deep enough for this not to be an issue.
      Best, Phil

  8. rwirt on 12 April 2017 at 6:57 pm

    How would you handle framed and raised panel sides instead of the solid wood sides? Do you cut the drawer panel housings in only the frame of the panel and then add a thin spacer over the back of the panel between the inside of the frame for the drawer to slide against?

  9. jefrog1844 on 3 June 2017 at 11:36 pm

    There is an error in the cut list stating the rear rail is 2-1/2 inches instead of 2-3/4 inches.

    Refer to the 32 minute mark in the video:
    If a person follows the video and uses a front rail to mark out the width of both the front and back rails on the underside of the top, the rear shoulder mark will be shifted an additional 1/4 thus making a gap of 3/8 instead of 1/8 that Paul refers to. If you pre-cut material prior to watching the video like I did, you’ll want to make sure to use the correct rails when laying out the widths on the top.

    • Edmund on 4 June 2017 at 12:15 am

      Jeff, I think you might have an outdated version of the cutlist. In mine (V4), both top rails are marked as 2 3/4″

      • mouton on 13 December 2017 at 12:27 am

        On the project presentation age the plan is still V.3, so I have the same issue Jeff just mentioned.
        Where did you get V.4 Edmund ?

        It would be nice if the plan was updated on the project presentation page.

        • Philip Adams on 13 December 2017 at 9:02 am

          Not sure how that happened, sorry about that. I have updated it to v4 again.

          • mouton on 14 December 2017 at 12:54 am

            Thanks Philip,

            I just looked at the plan (V.4), and I realize that Jeff and Edmund are not talking about the same part.

            The problem is about the front and rear divider rail (Edmund wrote about the top rails).

            On the cutting list (even on v.4) the Front Divider Rail is 2 3/4″ and the Rear Divider Rail is 2 1/2″.
            But on the video, one can clearly see that both Front and Rear divider rails are the same size. It’s especially clear when Paul stack them all together to scribe the lines.

            As Jeff noticed, if one is not wary of this, and use the Front divider rail to scribe both front and rear (as Paul did in the video), the the gap wil be 3/8″ instead of 1/8″.

            Nothing to difficult to handle on the bench, but it puzzled me a bit when I realized it (I thought I made a mistake cutting everything to size).

  10. mouton on 14 December 2017 at 1:21 am

    I hate being this guy, but I think there is another mistake.

    When Paul is marking the mortise for the frame:
    – he marks the width of the Side Divider Rail
    – he then subtracts the width of his combination square rule (1″, as pretty much everybody combi square rule), which give him the size of his mortise.

    On the cutting list, the Side Divider Rails width is 2 1/2″.
    If I do as Paul and subtracts 1″ I get a 1 1/2″ mortise.
    But the plan indicate a 1 3/4″ tenon…

    I might be missing something, but just in case.

    • Philip Adams on 18 December 2017 at 4:54 pm

      Hello Michael & Jeff,
      I have had a look into those divider frames, and it does indeed look like you’re right. I’m going to have a double check that it doesn’t effect anything else before we make the changes in the cutting list.

    • Philip Adams on 20 December 2017 at 12:12 pm

      The width of all the divider rails be corrected to be 2 3/4″ as that resolves everything. We will get those changes made to the cut list in the new year. Sorry for any inconvenience and thanks for pointing them out.

  11. jerry curran on 24 January 2018 at 4:11 am

    I would just like to say thank you for inspiring me to do more accurate work. I will also say that I absolutely love the music in the time lapse. I know I saw something about it on this site and I could not find it for the life of me. I would love to know what it is. Thank you again

  12. Ian Hemphill on 5 June 2018 at 4:30 pm

    I’m coming to this project a bit later, but just to add my 2 cents – I really like having the time lapse in the videos. I don’t feel it’s a waste of time, I find them fun. And the music is well-suited, congrats to Henry Horrel. Excellent series, folks, I continue to learn useful stuff every single time I see Paul work a joint. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen that joint before, there’s always a nuance come to play.

  13. Nick Latraille on 25 June 2020 at 7:51 pm

    Thank you guys so much for fixing it SO FAST that is the coolest thing ever

  14. Kent Hansen on 16 February 2021 at 10:58 pm

    You sure work faster on the last three!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.