How to Build a Kendal Extra Wide Dresser: Cutting & Framing

I’m in the middle of a project to build my own modified version of Ana White’s Kendal Extra Wide Dresser.  Actually, I’m concurrently building 2 dressers at the same time, but that’s a story for another post!  In this post, I’ll cover cutting the wood and building the frame.

Cutting Your Wood

I’ve included a cut diagram in the previous post that will be helpful.  You can also download this if you’re a SketchUp user so that you can see it a little better.

I’ve also created a printable PDF version of this plan which you can purchase for $5 (it’s 43 pages in all).  It’s all the info from the blog posts, but I’ve compiled it for easy printing and included shopping lists, cut diagrams and helpful pictures.  Basically, if you want a handy printable version so you don’t have to get sawdust all over your computer, you might consider purchasing this download.

I recommend that you have the store make initial cuts on your plywood when you buy it.  This makes the work at home much easier (unless you have a table saw large enough to handle a full sheet of plywood!) and also helps with transportation.

That involves ripping* the 3/4″ plywood sheet into 2 strips 15 1/2″ wide.  That will leave a strip slightly shorter than 17″ (that’s because the saw blade is around 1/8″ thick… this is important to remember when you’re working on your own cuts & measuring your stock).  The folks at Home Depot or Lowes will do this for you, but make sure that they measure carefully and get the cuts exactly… you don’t want that pesky saw blade to turn your 15 1/2″ strip into a 15 3/8″ strip!  These will be your dresser top and the sides.

*Ripping wood means cutting it in the direction of the grain.  Cutting against the grain is referred to as “cross-cutting.”

Rip your 3/4" plywood into 2 strips 15 1/2 wide.

Rip your 3/4″ plywood into 2 strips 15 1/2 wide.

Next, rip your 1/2″ plywood into 6 strips 5 3/4″ wide.  These strips will be used for your drawer boxes.  Again, have the folks at the store cut your strips and then do the cross cuts at home.  I’ll go over the way I do that below.  Pay close attention to these cuts because it’s easy to get confused with all the panels.  You can always cut something too long, but if you cut it too short, then there’s not much you can do about that!

I would also suggest that you wait to do your cross cuts until you’ve built the dresser frame and measure them individually.  This won’t matter for the drawer box panels that are 16″ (the depth of the drawers) but it will for the panels that comprise the front and back of the drawer boxes.  Even the best measured plans are dealing with wood which can contract or expand slightly based on humidity.  Measuring the drawers individually takes a little longer but may save you some work in the long run.

Rip the 1/2" plywood into 6 strips 5 3/4" wide.

Rip the 1/2″ plywood into 6 strips 5 3/4″ wide.

The 1/4″ plywood sheet will provide your drawer bottoms and the back of the dresser.  You’ll want to have the store rip a 15 1/2″ strip from your sheet, but you’ll need to do the other cuts at home.  You’ll have 4 large drawer bottoms and 3 smaller ones.

Rip a 15 1/2" strip from the 1/2" plywood. Make the other cuts at home.

Rip a 15 1/2″ strip from the 1/2″ plywood. Make the other cuts at home.

Kendal Extra Wide Dresser Posts & Supports

Kendal Extra Wide Dresser Posts & Supports

Constructing the Frame

Before we get started, here’s a vision of the frame so you can see what we’re going for.  I’ve added measurements so you can make sure you cut your 1x2s and 2x2s appropriately.

Dresser frame

Dresser frame

Once you’ve cut your plywood sides, the 4 2×2 legs and the frame (which consists of your 2x2s and 1x2s), you’ll want to drill your pocket holes all together.  This takes a little while and I’ve definitely found it helpful to knock all this out at one time.

You’ll use pocket holes to attach the plywood sides to the legs as well as to the dresser top.  For the top, the screws will actually attach to the trim, so that’s why my plan has additional cross supports to attach the dresser top (more on that later).

Side panel & frame supports with pocket holes

Side panel & frame supports with pocket holes

You’ll notice that my wood looks really different in these pictures.  That’s because I used a good bit of “reclaimed” wood to build this particular dresser (you can see my other one in the background!)

Various parts of the dresser frame.

Various parts of the dresser frame.

A note on the hardware… when attaching the 3/4″ boards to other 3/4″ stock, you’ll use 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.  When attaching 2x2s to other 2x2s, you’ll use 2″ pocket hole screws.  Make sure that when you are drilling your pocket holes that you measure and make adjustments to your Kreg Jig and the drill bit itself or you’ll end up drilling a hole in your jig (like I did!)

2x2 cross supports

The dresser has 2×2 cross supports on the bottom front and the top rear. Take a good look at the plans!

 

The cross supports with pocket holes

The cross supports (I’m using 3 on the top and 1 on the bottom) are different sizes because the back frame has a 2×2 on the top, but 3/4″ thick 1x4s on the bottom.

1x2 frame boards with pocket holes

1×2 frame boards with pocket holes

Also, don’t get so caught up in drilling your pocket holes that you end up drilling some in your dresser legs (again like I did!).  These won’t have any holes at all.  You’ll see on one leg that I had to add plugs where I drilled holes.  What would a project be without a bunch of mistakes?  That’s what wood filler is for!

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Here are a couple tips on assembling the frame.

First, sand your wood before assembling everything.  Sanding is the biggest pain and I like to try and knock it all out at once.  It makes a total mess in the garage/workshop/basement/wherever.  You’ll inevitably want to do a little more once you get the whole thing put together where you find some right edges, but try to do as much as you can up front.

Also, sand after you drill your pocket holes since drilling them will leave some rough edges around the holes.

Sanding is the hardest part of this entier project!

Second, glue all your joints with a good quality wood glue.

Third, notice that the inside of the side panels – the side you drilled the pocket holes on – attach flush to the edge of the 2×2 legs.  Be careful here!  This can create some aggravation when you’re trying to clamp the sides to the legs to attach.  Don’t make the mistake of assembling with the outside facing side of dresser panel flush with the edge of the legs.  The inside facing side of the panel should be the side flush with the edge of the legs.

You may also find that you like certain sides of your legs and want a particular face to be more visible, especially if you’re staining the dresser, so take care to make sure that the legs are attached such that the best faces are visible.

Inside of the side panel should be flush to the edge of the dresser legs

Inside of the side panel should be flush to the edge of the dresser legs

Dresser Side Shot

Note that the pocket holes are on the inside of the side panel which is flush to the edge of the legs.

Forth, go ahead and spring for the Kreg clamps, both the right angle clamp and the face clamp.  These are so handy and once you get the screw set for the right tension, you can manage them one-handed which is a big plus!

Using the Kreg Right Angle clamp is a major time saver!

Using the Kreg Right Angle clamp is a major time saver!

I don't know how I managed without this thing before!

I don’t know how I managed without this thing before!

At this point, you should have the sides and back assembled and your dresser should look like this:

Kendal Extra Wide Dresser: Sides and back

Kendal Extra Wide Dresser: Sides and back

Next, assemble the face frame 1x2s.

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Next, add the facing for the drawers and the top supports (3) and bottom support (1).

Drawer frame completed with supports.

Drawer frame completed with supports.

Here’s another view with measurements.  Note that the top supports are slightly shorter than the bottom support.  This is because the top supports are joining 2 2x2s and the bottom support is joining a 2×2 to a 1×2.

 

Dresser frame with measurements

Dresser frame with measurements

Fifth, check to make sure that your joins are square often!  Because the Kendal Extra Wide Dresser has “inset” drawers that are set into the face frame (vs. “overlay” drawers in which the drawer face slightly overlaps the frame), you don’t have a lot of room for error.  There should be about a 1/8″ gap around the drawer faces between the face and the frame, so if your frame is not square, that will give you fits when you’re making your drawers.  Use a speed square to quickly tell if your joints are square.

Next Step… Cutting & Assembling the Dresser Top

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If you’ve made it this far, consider my printable PDF version of this plan which you can purchase for $5 (it’s 43 pages in all).  It’s all the info from the blog posts, but I’ve compiled it for easy printing and included shopping lists, cut diagrams and helpful pictures.  Basically, if you want a handy printable version so you don’t have to get sawdust all over your computer, you might consider purchasing this download.

Check out the other posts:

 

7 thoughts on “How to Build a Kendal Extra Wide Dresser: Cutting & Framing

  1. jimbair

    Can’t print the pages of instructions. Can you supply me with printed copies of all the instructions on this dresser that you’ve posted.

    Reply
    1. Ed Post author

      Hi Jim, I’m working on a downloadable plan like I have for the other projects on the site, but I haven’t gotten it done yet. Hopefully will in a couple weeks. I’ve been getting a lot of interest in this plan lately. Thanks for asking and I’ll be working on it as quickly as I can.

      Reply
  2. Russ

    For the step “Next, add the facing for the drawers and the top supports (3) and bottom support (1)”, how did you attach the styles (drawer dividers) to the rails? I don’t see any pocket hols in them, and I don’t think you could fit a brad nailer in there. Did you just glue them?

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Ed Post author

      Hi Russ, yes, I actually did both. The glue is the main thing and is sufficient for a permanent bond. I did put a brad nail in from the top of the rails (flipped over the dresser and did the same thing from the bottom). In between the drawers, I shot the brad in at a little bit of an angle with a small finishing nail gun, but that was all just to keep them in place while the glue dried.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: My Build of a Kendal Extra Wide Dresser - WebPointX

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