Miniature Dresser

Topics Covered
1. Dimensions
2. Photos
3. What is it?
4. How Old is This Dresser?
5. Final Thoughts

I was originally planning to label this-post: “Dresser — Salesman Sample”. But, after reading up on “Salesman Samples,” I do not think it is a salesman sample. But before getting into what it is or is not, here is a Photo of the miniature dresser.


Before looking at more Photos of the dresser, I want to list the following dresser dimensions:
1) Overall dresser dimensions: 18-5/8” ht x 14-3/4” wide x 9-1/8” deep.
2) Thickness of carcase lumber is as follows: 5/8” for top & sides, and ¼” for the backside lumber.
3) Thickness of lumber for the sides of each drawer varied from 7/16” to 11/16”.
4) Drawer fronts varied in thickness from 11/16” to ¾”. Not much variation here.
5) Drawer backs varied noticeably in thickness from 7/16” to 11/16”.
6) Thickness of the drawer bottoms was 5/16”; however, the bottom board for the top drawer was 7/32” in thickness (a noticeable difference, thickness wise).

The following collection of Photos show this miniature dresser carcase and individual drawers from every angle; I could think of to snap a shot.

The front, two sides, and back of the dresser are shown in the next three Photos.





The next three Photos show the bottom of the dresser.









The following three Photos show the carcase of the dresser with the drawers removed.





Pictured in the Photo below are the four drawers partially pulled out.



The next six Photos show the top drawer from multiple viewing angles.









The following four Photos are typical for the 2nd and 3rd drawers down from the top drawer. The dovetails for these two drawers were built using two tails at each drawer corner.






And to wrap up the Photos, below are two photos of the bottom drawer.




What is it?
Regarding what was the purpose of building this miniature dresser, there are several possibilities: salesman sample, a piece made by an apprentice furniture maker, a toy for a child, or built by a furniture maker to show his level of skill.

As I understand, if it were a salesman sample it would be labeled to indicate who made it. Also, the construction of the dresser would have been flawless regarding its construction: that is not the case with this dresser, no label and definitely not flawless.

The less than perfect construction of this piece rules out it being built by a furniture maker, to show his level of skill.

Therefore, I believe that it was either built by an apprentice furniture maker or built as a toy for a child. But in the end, we will each draw our own conclusion regarding the purpose of this piece.

How Old is This Dresser?
I am not a furniture age expert, but here are my thoughts regarding the age of this dresser. An examination of the dresser reveals the use of cut nails and the use of solid wood for the dresser bottoms.

Cut nails which were machine made and rectangular in cross-section, were used mainly between 1800 and 1900. The wire nail that is mainly used today dates back to 1900. However, it should be noted that cut nails are still made today for woodworkers building traditional furniture. But, they are pricey.

The drawer bottoms were solid wood. Generally speaking, plywood used for furniture dates back to post-1945.

Based on the use of cut nails and absence of plywood drawer bottom, I would reason (right or wrong) this dresser to have been built between 1900 and 1945. And, who knows based on the usage of cut nails it could have been made prior to 1900.

Final Thoughts
Hope you have enjoyed examining this dresser as much as I did. I especially enjoy inspecting the dovetails of other woodworkers. In studying this dresser (any old piece of furniture actually), I wonder about the person, time, place, and circumstances under which this dresser was built.

In building furniture, it is comforting to compare what I am building with furniture that has been built in the past. I realize that this piece has issues (regarding skill level), but I still enjoyed looking it over. It’s nice to have something to compare your work to, as compared to working in a vacuum.

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Until next time, Take care