On Friday night my dad and I moved this finished dresser in to Ella’s room. It took roughly 3 months to build due to some distractions, but Ella (and Michelle) are happy to see a finished product finally sitting in the room after many afternoons over in my dad’s shop.
The idea was to build a matching dresser for the furniture my dad built for Ella’s arrival. With two girls, we were going to need a little more space for clothes and blankets. My dad is the craftsman on the project, but I tried my best to be as involved in the design and building process as time would allow. I used Sketchup to come up with an initial design after measuring the existing furniture, only to have it thrown out when my dad pointed out that it was half as wide as I intended it. “You want it to be a square?”
So the second version was much better (below), though my dad made some design changes based on things he’s learned since building the originals, and based on access to certain materials. The original dresser had a bunch of birdseye maple in it that he got on the cheap from a cabinet shop in Yakima. To get even enough birdseye for the top of this project would have tripled the price. So we went with a nice-enough selection of rock maple (some with great figuring) and used Pacific Coast maple and some poplar for the innards.
This is the first project like this that I’ve been involved in from start to finish, so I was taking every opportunity to learn from my dad. He also took the opportunity to not be sold on sketchup for design, since it seemed that we were correcting mistakes at every point of the project. I blame this more on my creating a plan and his modifications of it, so we had no single accurate plan at any given time. I also learned from some bone headed mistakes, like if you modify the height of the piece, you have to redraw all the drawers if you don’t use sketchup like a pro. Needless to say, I learned one of the most important things in woodworking – how to back out of a problem.
It was a little frustrating that it took so long (I’m sure my dad would agree, since it was holding his shop hostage), but I had a lot going on at home. And when I tried to rush in some work, I often made the biggest mistakes. But I also got to learn to use his shop and the process from design, to purchasing the wood, to planing and cutting boards, assembly, and finishing. I’d done individual parts in the past, but never all as one project.
Having made the piece, I can see all the flaws and errors, though they’re relatively minor. Hopefully it isn’t obvious to Ella and she decides she’d rather have IKEA stuff for the rest of her life. It was a lot of fun, and I’m hoping to find another project to do soon. Right after my thesis.