Midcentury Modern Walnut Dressing Vanity | Woodworking Project

hey everyone my name is matt welcome to my backyard this is the dressing vanity that is finished up for my wife lindsay she has been wanting a dressing vanity for a long long time and for almost that long i've been telling her i will make her one and i finally have so i just finished building this thing over in the wood whisperer guild it's my most recent class i put together it features a nice adjustable mirror it has two desktop boxes for jewelry or rings or whatever and then three main compartment drawers it features a mid-century modern type of styling with a completely mitered case and uh lots and lots of chamfers and things like that so let me show you how it all went together jumping back in time to sourcing all of the lumber for this project so a few years ago i recovered this walnut tree it was one of the uh more tight pickups i've ever had to do the tree was fell down a hill and then the way the driveway was laid out with the garage there was uh pretty difficult to get the trailer in line with the trees so i spent a good amount of time on site actually position the logs in line with the trailer and then getting loaded up and bringing them home the lower section was fairly straight grain looking and then the upper section had all the limbs of course so these two logs were used in my little mini series on turning a log into lumber where i showed the differences between sawing for boards versus selling for slabs and then going through the kind of the less glamorous side of things of stacking drying and cleanup so the first log was cut into four quarter lumber along with a cherry log and then the second log was sawn into eight quarter slabs all the lumber was stacked and dried in my basement and i cover all that in more detail in that mini series so i will leave you a link to those videos as well as the video on picking up this vlog if you're interested in more of the backstory on the material now jumping forward a few years it's time for some part layout so the primary section this is going to be the desktop and sides area so i'm doing that out of a pair of book mesh boards and this pair has some interesting crotch figure that happen to fall right where the sides will be so i'll have a nice area for the desktop and then the sides will have some pretty wild figure the desktop boxes came out of a clearer section of one of the boards from that set i also have a bunch of secondary material for the drawer boxes that is silver maple and that is some leftover boards from when i built my workbench and then lastly for the layout is the legs which came out of a piece of the eight quarter stock that's going to give me my thickness that i need for my leg stock so with all my parts laid out it's time to run through the milling process and get these things broken down into actual parts especially with these longer boards which are 11 feet long the faster i get them cut down the sooner i'll be able to move around my shop because 11 foot board in my shop is pretty big to start things off i'll make the panel which will become the sides and the top while sitting in the clamps i'll prep material for the secondary panels only the front edge of these are going to be seen so i can throw some sappy stuff together and just edge it with something nicer now i'll start on the waterfall joints it'll make the grain appear to flow over the top and down the sides the first cut separates the side from the top and the second cut removes remaining waste accuracy is super important for this because you want to remove as little material as possible the more material removed the more obvious the joint is after the cuts are made i'll verify each and tweak them as necessary the cuts need to be flat 45 degrees to the face and 90 degrees to the edge the more spot on these joints are the easier the rest of the case will come together get in there perfect once i'm happy with the cuts i'll head over to the table saw and cut the grooves for the back panels i'll add the beveled chamfer detail to the front edge and also make the mating bevel cut on the bottom of each side all the miter joints in this project will be reinforced with floating tenons a la domino in preparation for the glue up and to aid in a final check i'll glue on the plywood clamping calls these calls will allow for clamping pressure to be applied across the joint helping everything close up nicely with everything coming together really well i can move forward with getting these parts glued up i use epoxy so it would have as much working time as i could possibly need a quick double check and some squeeze out clean up before leaving this thing alone to cure since they're no longer needed i can have a little destructive fun and remove the calls i'll split them along the ply closest to the face veneer and the remainder is removed as i'm cleaning up the joint this leaves me with a very crisp and tight joint and i'll use a little bit of mineral spirits to check for any glue residue and to get an idea of how this waterfall is going to look continuing on with the case construction i'll add the vertical components which will frame out the drawer cavities these have their front edge bevel detail thing removed and then i can rough cut them to length i'll verify the cuts are nice and square and make any tweaks as necessary i'll cut a 45 degree bevel on one end to get exactly the same height as the case sides with all the cuts on these tall dividers complete they can be joined to the case dominoes again here using a piece of mdf with parallel edges to place the divider parallel to the side of the case epoxy again as my slow setting adhesive of choice some clamps and a square to check for well square while that cures i'll make some stock for the back panels these will be a quarter inch thick captive panels i'll go ahead and finish them now next i can run through the process of making these sides for the middle drawer compartment the process is the same for these guys as the ones i just added and they'll just get glued to the towel dividers now for some bottoms again checking for accuracy as i go i'll make the bevel cuts on each so it fits between the vertical components some dominoes and calls and we're just about ready for another glue up but before i forget i'll cut and install the back panels to get the bottom panels to drop in with the protruding dominoes i'll use some clamps to pull the verticals over a bit widen the top enough for the dominoes to drop in and a bajillion clamps on the calls and these case bottoms are all set next i can add in the center compartment bottom similarly the case needs to be flexed a bit to allow for the dominoes to go in this time i'll bend the top by clamping it across a block of wood once the joinery is seated i can remove the block so the case is sitting flat on the bench again and add a few clamps i can again have some fun removing the calls and finish up the last details of the case which are going to be the vertical moldings that complete the front facade i'll transfer the center line of the two dividers up onto the top then i'll lay out a 45 degree line to the left and right of that point to create a 90 degree v i'll use some chisels to cover away this area leaving an almost unnoticeable flat at the peak of the v so i don't cut through the top this little recess will give my moldings a place to nest into now on to those moldings these are going to be coped moldings so i'll start by making a 45 degree cut then i can turn the stock and start coping away the waste this will leave me with a little pointy ear which fits into the v-notch in the case with the top of the molding done i can mark out and cut the miter on the other end i'll do the same to create the other set of the pair and with these moldings installed it gives the illusion that the drawer cavities are completely wrapped up into the top a little glue and these complete the work on the case the case might be done but the next thing i'm going to work on is the little drawer boxes that sit on top of the desk area this is essentially just some mini versions of the case the joinery and construction is exactly the same the work pieces are smaller though so i can use my dedicated bevel crosscut sled to make the initial cuts similarly to the case the top and sides are waterfalled i'll do those first and then cut and fit the bottom to fit [Music] next i can start working on the five drawers i still have all the stock for the drawer boxes in rough sawn form so i'll run through the process to get the stock i need for the sides backs and bottoms milled up and re-sawn i'll set that stock aside for a bit and work on cutting the drawer fronts to fit their openings i'll start with a square cut and check that against the opening i'll adjust the cut angle with some shims until the cut matches the opening with no gaps once i have one end i can repeat the process on the other cutting a bit long find the angle and then cutting it to final length i'm going for a drawer front that fits perfectly to the width of the opening so when i clean up the dovetails later on that will remove a small amount of material and make these drawers a nice piston fit once i have all the fronts taken care of i can finish up the stock for the drawers ripping it to width and cross cutting it to length and while i'm at it i can also make the groove which will hold the bottom now we can start on some joinery the front of the drawers will be joined with half blind dovetails i'll cut the tails at the bandsaw with a taper jig which matches my desired tail angle flipping the board after each cut to create a symmetrical layout i'll clamp a bit of the waste at the bandsaw and head back to the bench to work back to the scribe line with some chisels now i can transfer the layout to the drawer front over at the drill press i can hog out the bulk of the waste with a forstner bit and then back of the bench i'll start working back to the lines yeah and that's one side complete mine like this to go now for the drawbacks these will be joined with three dovetails which are cut pins first i'll lay out some random pattern that looks appealing and saw along those lines i'll use the band saw to start the waste removal then i can go to the table saw to remove the waste back to the scribe line this step saves a lot of chopping time at the bench i'm just left with a bit of material against each pin and a little clean up work to take care of now i can place the drawer back between the sides of the assembled drawer and transfer the layout i'll saw along the scribe lines and use the bandsaw and table saw again to remove most of the waste that just leaves me with a little bit of cleanup work to do and i can also adjust any saw cuts that were slightly off and that takes care of the drawer joinery let's go ahead and glue these things up next i'll get the glue applied and the drawer reassembled and i can use the case as a clamping form so i can rack the drawer so the front ends up nice and parallel to the front of the case once the glue sets i can pull the drawer and flush up the joinery next i'll work on adding the bottoms this starts by gluing up the panel which will be sliced up into the individual bottoms i cut the bottom sequentially so not only are the drawer fronts continuous grain so are there bottoms because uh you know why not three sides of the bottoms are beveled and the bottoms can be slid into place the bottoms will serve as the drawer stop so i'll adjust them until the drawer stops at just the right point [Music] lastly i'll cut a slot in the back so the bottom can be screwed to the drawer back next i'll start on the mirror and its stand this was easily the most fun of the project for me i had some ideas in my head but mostly went into this just flying by the seat of my pants i worked the design as i went which is how i really like to work i got the stock prepped and started with the mirror stand to start tying it into the rest of the piece i used miter joinery similar to how the case is joined next i decided to taper the uprights along the front and back and if we're going to taper these in with we might as well taper them in thickness too a quick planar sled and a few passes and these upgrades to get thinner as they rise to further tie things together i'll add the chamfer detail to the base piece i'll add in the dominoes so i can transfer the chamfer to the uprights i want that chamfer to taper as well i drew some guidelines and then it was a simple matter of connecting the lines with a plane and lastly i'll drill a countersunk and through hole for a socket head cap screw which will later attach the mirror oop and there's the stand next up is the mirror frame and that just starts as a simple mitered frame join with dominoes i added a large bevel to the front and cut a groove for the mirror in the back i use glued on calls for the mirror glue up so i can get good pressure along the full length of the miter with the mirror glued up i can attach it to the frame i'll drill and tap a hole for a screw and a tension of the screw can be adjusted so the mirror will sit at whatever angle the user moves it to the last bit of construction is to add the legs these have a compound splay so i made sure to mark each leg really well so i wouldn't make a miscut with the blade tipped and a miter gauge swung the two parallel cuts can be made on each leg next i'll add a taper to the inside faces of each leg and that's how the legs will look now for some way to attach them i'm making some mounting plates from stainless steel because i like uh challenging materials apparently i'll lay out a pair of four holes the outer holes will attach the plate to the case and the inner holes will attach the length of the plate the holes are countersunk on opposite faces i'll give them a quick cleanup and then mount them to the legs with the four middle holes now the legs are ready to go on once the case is finished i've been pretty good about doing my finished prepping as i go on this project so there's only a little bit of detail work and finishing to do i'll wipe on a bit of mineral spirits to make sure to miss anything before proceeding with applying the finish as is common with me i'm using a wipe and varnish since this dressing vanity is going to be used as an actual dressing vanity i want a decent amount of protection as it needs to be able to withstand things like makeup nail polish and that lovely stuff that you know removes nail polish i applied five coats over the course of a couple days giving everything a light stand in between coats the fifth coat goes on super light so it tacks quickly which greatly reduces the amount of dust that can settle in the finish a few days later i gave everything a very light sanding with some thousand grit sandpaper to remove any nibs i could feel now for the final assembly the legs are mounted to the case via tapped holes and bolts next up i'll reassemble the drawers and add some wax to their bottoms and to their openings i'll cut a mirror to fit the frame and drop in a backer for a bit of hardware i'll attach the components together with some brass plates that i made lastly i'll install these desk knobs from horton brasses and just like that this dressing vanity is done so if you want to learn how to furniture like this definitely check out my class over in the guild the summary glosses over a lot of the details and there are 16 step-by-step instructional videos over there along with a full set of plans for this project if you really want to bring your woodworking skill up a few notches so i am super thrilled with the way this thing turned out and i'm also really thrilled that lindsay absolutely loves this thing this might be uh actually no it might it is her favorite piece of furniture i have made and i've made a lot more things than this in my life so i'm really thrilled that she really likes the styling and the look and everything and of course with like everything that i made it's always fun to go back and watch the old videos of going out and sourcing the material for these projects because like almost every single time i source a tree i don't know what it's going to become uh it just happens that this ended up being becoming this so that walnut tree that i picked up that was a two and a half years ago has become this so as with everything here every single time you see me cut something it's like the start of a build video way out into the future so who knows what the next thing will be i still have some more wood from this tree too they'll probably produce two furniture projects which is uh really cool so that's gonna do it for this one i hope you enjoyed this summary of the uh the other project it was a really fun one to build and a really fun one to put together and produce all those classes so yeah so thank you as always for watching i greatly appreciate it if you have any questions or comments on the dressing advantage or anything back in the shop please feel free to leave me a comment i'd love to be happy answering any questions you might have and until next time happy working

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