Ask Dave    |    About us    |    Members
Home    |    Articles    |    Plans    |    Custom Plans    |    Dictionary    |    Our eBooks    |    Newsletter    |    Member Photos

Bedroom Furniture: 11 Drawer Dresser

These wood working plans include:

These wood working plans include:

The following drawings:

  • Face Frame shows the dimensions of the stiles and rails on the gables
  • Back Measurements shows which pieces are rabbeted and which pieces are cut back for the back panel
  • Drawer Slides Detail shows the stiles and rails and slides layout on the gables
  • Drawer Detail shows the construction of a typical bottom mount drawer box and front with manufactured slides
  • Front and Side Elevation shows dimensions and layout of the doors and drawers

The List of Materials include materials for all the parts required to complete the project including: the gables, top and bottom, face frame, drawers, slides, pulls and fasteners.

The Instructions include the following topics:

  • Cutting List for the Main Unit and the Gallery
  • The Face Frame
  • The Gallery
  • Gable Layout
  • The Drawers
  • The Molding
  • The Drawer Fronts
  • Sanding and Finishing
  • Installing the Fronts and Pulls
  • Tips

Drawing of our 11 drawer dresser.

List of Materials

  • 2 - 4x8x3/4" cherry G2S plywood for gables, drawer fronts, top
  • 5 - 4x8x1/2" cherry G2S plywood or G1S plywood (cheaper) for drawers
  • 1 - 4x8x1/4" cherry G2S plywood or G1S plywood (cheaper) for back
  • 1 - 4'x8'x3/4" sheet utility plywood for bottoms and center gables
  • 62' - 1x4 cherry S4S for face frame and trim
  • 100' of cherry wood iron-on edge tape (I purchase this tape in 250' rolls)
  • 8 pairs bottom mount 18" drawer slides (Blum) for the main unit
  • 3 pairs bottom mount 12" drawer slides (Blum) for the gallery
  • 1 box flathead wood screws # 6x5/8" for slides
  • 19 drawer pulls
  • 4 lb 1 1/2" bright finish nails
  • Carpenter's yellow wood glue


Cut the cherry plywood to the sizes in the following cutting list.

Cutting List

  • Main Unit:
    • 2 gable ends at 18" x 44"
    • 1 center gable at 17 3/4" x 39 1/4"
    • 1 top at 72" x 18 3/4"
    • 1 bottom at 71" x 17 3/4"
    • 1 back - 1/4" plywood at 71" x 39 3/4"
    • 4 drawer fronts at 34 1/2" x 7 5/8"
    • 4 drawer fronts at 34 1/2" x 9 3/8"

  • Gallery:
    • 2 gable ends at 5 1/2" x 12 3/4"
    • 2 gables at 5" x 12 1/2" (from fir plywood option)
    • 1 top at 60" x 12 3/4"
    • 1 bottom at 59" x 12 1/2" (from fir plywood option)
    • 1 back - 1/4" plywood at 59" x 5 1/2"
    • 3 drawer fronts at 19 1/2" x 3 1/2"

Cabinet plywood is considered G2S (good 2 sides), but one side is usually a bit better than the other. Always rip the best side up on a table saw and the best side down with a circular saw. Use a sharp blade with the highest number of teeth for finishing work. We want to dado the back edge of the gables for the 1/4" back panel. For the dados cut in 1/4" deep the full thickness of the panel, that's 1/4 x 1/4. Either use a dado blade with the table saw (preferred) or use a router and jig.

Refer to the Cutting List, these are exact sizes, the more accurate you are here the better the cabinet will turn out. Before assembling the parts be sure to dado the two gables for the bottom and rabbet the inside back edge for the back panel. Also, don't forget to cut a rabbet on the inside back edge of the top piece to receive the back panel. The bottom and center gable are cut back 1/4" to allow for the thickness of the back. Assemble the pieces with glue and nails. Turn the unit on its face and install the 1/4" plywood back, this will keep it square. Nail and glue the back into the top and gable dadoes and into the bottom and center gable.

The Face Frame

The Face Frame drawing shows which piece overlaps and which piece comes to the other. The hatched line shows the gables behind the stiles.

The face frame is made up of vertical pieces called stiles and horizontal pieces called rails. These are ripped, from the 3/4" solid lumber stock, according to the sizes shown in the face frame drawing and cut to length by holding the piece against the frame and marking in place. These should be face nailed to the box and glued. Set the nails with a nail set just below the surface if not using an air nailer.

Notice the bottom rail is doubled up on the inside. Go tight to the underside of the bottom, using lots of glue and nails or screws from behind. Also add some blocks at the corners under both rails. Also notice the added screws from the top down into the center gable, as well as through the bottom up into this gable. Be sure to keep the top screws under the location of the gallery. Glue all the surfaces of all the pieces in contact with each other. This doubled up bottom rail acts as a beam to help support the drawers.

The Gallery

The gallery does not have a face frame, as such. The gables, top and bottom are covered with an iron-on wood tape. The top rails are cut between the gables and flush with the wood tape. These support the 1 1/2" trim around the top and sides compared with 2" for the main unit. The drawer fronts overlay 1/4" all around compared to the main unit with an overlay of 1/2". These 3 drawers are shallow for the purpose of containing watches and jewellry. The drawer bottoms are of 1/4" plywood with bottom mounted slides. Since there is no face frame, there is no packing for the slides. The inside of the drawers are lined with a felt.

The gallery box is made up as a unit, then screwed through the top of the lower unit from the underside.

Gable Layout

On the gables layout the position of the drawer slides. The slides come in matched pairs, with one for the drawer and one for the gable. They are marked LH and RH for left and right hand. The drawer mounts install on the bottom of the drawer with the roller at the back. We'll get to the drawers later.

The gable mount slide is shown in this drawing. The end with the roller goes to the front and is flush with the outside of the face frame and resting on top of the rail. Screw these in position using #6 x 5/8" screws, 3 per slide. Make sure they are installed square across the gable. Since the gables are not flush with the stiles, pack out the gable with a 3/4" ripping to bring it out flush and install the drawer slide onto the strip. Put the cabinets aside for now, while we make up the drawers.

The Drawers

The drawer boxes are made of 1/2" plywood. The sides are rabbeted to receive the front and backs, which are the same size. The outside width of the drawer must be 1" less than the opening between the stiles to allow for the drawer slides. You'll notice that one slide mounted on the drawer is flat on top and the other side has a rounded top which grabs the roller. There is a bit of adjustment with this design, better to be a bit too wide on the 1/2" gap rather than too tight. I'm talking a maximum of 1/16". At 1/2" on each side the drawer will slide nicely. The bottom is simply nailed and glued to the sides, back and front since the slide supports the bottom anyway. With plywood, glue and nails work well. Don't fasten the drawer front onto the drawer box yet, wait for this step later. The height of the drawer, with the bottom, is about 3/4" less than the vertical opening, to allow for clearance to get the drawer in place.

Important: For the gallery, the drawer sides, front and back are 1/2" and the bottom is 1/4". The drawer fronts overlay 1/4" on the sides, top and bottom. All the other drawer fronts overlay 1/2".

The Molding

At this point we will fasten the 2" molding profiles around the top, as shown on the elevation drawing. Cut them to the approximate length adding extra for the miters. The profile is best done with the router under mounted to a table, as described above. The gallery trim is 1 1/2" around the top.

Rip the 3 1/2" base for the bottom unit and router a profile on the top of it. The two front joints are again mitered. Fasten in place with glue and face nails. The toe kick is 2", rounded out in the front, as shown on the drawing.

The Drawer Fronts

Cut the drawer fronts out of the 3/4" plywood. The edge grain can be covered with cherry wood edging tape or rip a profile out of the solid cherry stock. If going to router a profile on the drawer fronts be careful where you place your nails. We don't want to hit them with the router, since it is easier to router the edge after it is fastened to the front. Allow for the profiles when cutting the front size.

Sanding and Finishing

Time to sand and apply the finish to your project. Fill all nail holes with a putty pre-stained to your liking. Plywood and lumber has a mill glaze on its surfaces when purchased. This has to come off before applying a stain or clear finish. Use about a 100 grit sandpaper for the first pass. It doesn't take too much to remove this. Don't sand any finer than 150 grit before the application of stain. I've had people wonder why stain won't grab the wood when they sand with 400 or 600 paper. They sealed it off by trying to do a perfect sanding job. Don't sand too much of the veneer off the plywood, it is very thin. Remove any saw or router marks on the edges of the solid lumber. Remember to sand the drawer fronts and set them aside for the finishing process before installing them on the drawers.

For a choice of finish, I prefer a satin or semi-gloss clear Polyurethane product. Varathane is such a product. I use the Varathane Professional Clear Finish, which can accept a number of coats in a day, yet is oil based. If stain is your choice, it goes on before the final finish. I prefer a gelled stain applied with a lint free rag. Rub it on and wipe it off. Allow the stain to dry overnight before applying the finish. In my opinion, stay away from the stain and finish applications in one step. If the stain is not to your liking, after it dries, that's it. By pre-staining you have the option to sand it lightly to lighten the color or add a bit more to darken it. Apply at least two coats of the clear finish.

Installing the Fronts and Pulls

Insert the drawer box into the slides by tipping the drawer down to engage the roller and lift up again and slide the box in. Start by drilling 3/16" holes through the front of the drawer box about 1" in from the corners. Clamp the drawer front into place with the drawer open with the use of spring clamps or C-clamps. Don't mar the surface. From the inside of the box, screw through the 4 holes into the front. Careful with the length of screws, you don't want to go through the face of the front. Remove the clamps and slide the door in. When happy with the position, install the pulls by drilling with the same bit through the face of the front as well as the box front to match the spacing of the holes in the pulls. Most times the pulls come with a 3/4" machine screw as well as a longer one. You may have to cut off the screw to fit the length of going through the two pieces or buy a longer screw to fit.

Tip: When cutting a machine screw to length, thread on a proper size nut first, cut the screw and back off the nut which cleans the threads in the process.

Tip: When drilling through a finished frame, as when installing drawer pulls, hold a scrap block of plywood on the inside to prevent the drill from chipping the wood as it penetrates the frame.

Enjoy your dresser.


(Ask Dave) (About Dave)

Your source for building tips, woodworking & furniture plans, house plans and building advice directly from Dave...

Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.


The Benefits of Membership

Membership gives you full access to our hundreds of how-to articles, woodworking plans, converters, calculators and tables. Our Stair Calculator is one of the most popular on the internet. We have projects you can build for (and with) your kids, furniture for your wife, and sheds and gazebos. If you run into a problem or need advice your Membership includes unlimited email questions to me through our Ask Dave quick response button.

Join us!