A Shaker-style Dresser 2

p1570284Planing the panels is simple and quick with any #4 smoothing plane. The shorter sole gives the versatility I need for localised high spots and the panels should be near flat anyway using the method of glue up I use. As we make the videos you will see (via woodworkingmasterclasses.com) later, you will understand what I mean and how that works. Working in straight-grained pine of a quality like this is very nice and often more the luxury in our present age. My boards were 18 feet long and completely knot free. Generally that’s not the case but there can be grain patterns to guide you as to possible problem areas and I look for these as I prepare to plane as this type of grain-reading can eliminate or at least minimise possible problem areas. p1570422This is where the topo’-map theory helps. What’s that? Look at a topographical map with hilly and mountainous areas and you can judge the rate of ascent by the closeness of the lines delineating or depicting the rise of the slopes from bottom to top. Looking for the layers means you envisage where you might be entering end grain at one point in your planing but then on the opposite side of the ‘hilltop’ you are exiting the grain. By this I mean that the plane can enter end grain, or perhaps better understood, ‘rising grain’, and the plane lifts the surface fibres, parts them from the main body of wood, and ends up being ripped off or out rather than the slicing cut we get with normal planing. In woods like pine this is exacerbated by the growth rings that part or separate more easily between the disparity of the hard and soft aspect if each growth ring. The answer is to see the growth levels and determine beforehand which will be the best direction to go.p1570416-1 If you must go into and what we call ‘against the grain’ then stop and sharpen to a meticulous and super-sharp level before you go any further. Once this is done flip the blade over onto its flat face on the finest plate or stone you have, lift the blade so that only the cutting edge touches the stone. Now push forward with the cutting iron inclined by about but no more than 3-4mm (1/8″) off the plate so that you are effectively putting the shallowest and narrowest bevel on the flat face side along the length of the cutting edge. This is the poor man’s York-pitch. This takes care of wiry grain and working rising grain. It’s quick and effective. Once the grain is planed, continue using the plane as is until the next sharpening. Ignore it being a ‘York-pitch’. It will work as per normal for regular planing. As you sharpen next time the pitch on the flat side will be removed and your plane edge normalised. I would add here the suggestion not to dismiss the poor-man’s ‘York-pitch’ as somehow second rate. It’s not at all. I use it fairly regularly and it’s never failed me.p1570329p1570332







These two images show the same section of the panel with before and after shots. The first (left) is using a regular plane iron on a standard unaltered #4. The torn grain is obvious to the right of the joint-line. A few strokes with retro-refinement of the iron to a York-pitch resolved 95% of tear-out issues (right).p1570287

So, I got both faces of the three panels planed in fairly short order and there was zero tear-out in any of the panels because I used the poor-man’s York-pitch. Of course the true York-pitch is where the cutting iron is permanently bedded at 50-degrees. I am now ready to start working on the joinery for the carcass but I am making my drawer divider frames because they will be part of the carcass joinery.p1570291


  1. Rick on 8 November 2016 at 4:40 pm


    Isn’t the sharpening technique you describe generally accepted as the “Charlesworth ruler trick? ” Thank you.

    • Paul Sellers on 8 November 2016 at 5:25 pm

      Nope, it was around a century or two before any “tricks” were needed.

      • Rick on 9 November 2016 at 12:57 am


        Thank you for the reply. Is there a down side to making this back bevel a regular part of plane sharpening? Again, thank you.

        • Paul Sellers on 9 November 2016 at 8:41 am

          A little but perhaps not really enough for great concern. On bevel down planes the cutting edge does not last as long as the steeper the pitch the quicker edge fracture takes place. Many planes were made to the steeper pitch with the bed compensating for the tapered cutting irons of old so that the top or flat face of the cutting iron being then presented at 50-degrees. The steeper the angle results in a higher degree of wear as said, but that’s only when it is a bevel down plane presentation.

    • Juan M. on 8 November 2016 at 10:39 pm

      I think David uses the micro back bevel for sharpness, not necessarily to deal with tough grain the way Paul does.

  2. Robert on 8 November 2016 at 4:42 pm

    In the hands of an expert like Mr. Sellers, yes, but I cannot get the flatness I want with the short sole plane. I respectfully submit a #6 combined with a jointer excel at obtaining a flat panel with the least amount of error. I can see a beginner getting in trouble rather quickly using this technique.

  3. Robert on 8 November 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Paul, the Charleworth back bevel is only a degree a 5-10 degree back bevel is required to emulate the high pitched frogs.

  4. Joe on 8 November 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks Paul. Two questions:

    1. Why not just use a frog that is 50 degrees the whole time in a plane?

    2. I know from your prior blogs that the USA big box store pine is different than the pine you use in the UK. What type of pine should I purchase from our good lumber yard to duplicate the type of pine you are using in this video?


    • Paul Sellers on 8 November 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Eastern white pine works very nicely but it is a tad soft. That said it was favoured by the Shakers for projects like this, but that was in an age when people respected furniture and workmanship. Actually, the Home Depot used to stock what they called a premier grade pine so I don’t know if they still do. It was pretty nice stuff if not little expensive though.

      • Joe on 8 November 2016 at 8:14 pm

        Thanks. Not that long ago I purchases a board the premier grade pine from Lowes (nearly identical to Home Depot for most items). It was an 8 foot long 1×12. It cost $40. There were no knots in it. I made two of your clocks from it and had plenty of scraps left over to keep my daughter happy with what she considers custom building blocks. In fact, she is delighted if I take one of the scraps and cut an end at 45 degrees.

    • Paul Sellers on 8 November 2016 at 9:11 pm

      The lower 45-degree works better most of the time.

  5. Mike Towndrow on 8 November 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Hi Paul,
    The before picture looks very familiar, so I’m looking forward to trying out this little modification. When you say “Now push forward with the cutting iron inclined by about but no more than 3-4mm (1/8″) off the plate”, is that just one push? Is that enough?

    • Paul Sellers on 8 November 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Exactly, not hard and more a sliding stroke only and no more. It is a nano-micro and needs no more than that, takes a nano-second and the result is amazing. We are planning a video for it very soon.

  6. Patrick Murphy on 8 November 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Where did you get that Pine from? And have they got any more!?!


    • Paul Sellers on 8 November 2016 at 8:00 pm

      I used Travis and Perkins but I am not certain if they always have this as a grade.

      • Y Saer on 9 November 2016 at 10:35 am

        Oddly in the news last week, T & P are ‘re-organising and restructuring’ at the moment, but what type wood did you stipluate when you ordered It?

        Our local T & P only stocks low-grade builders’ timber.

  7. Y Saer on 9 November 2016 at 10:32 am

    If this is a Shaker-style chest, would said Shakers have used sliding dovetails……. it would be an advantage to include this type of joint as part of the structure which has only been touched on before in a stool top.

    If not, I’d be interested to see it crop up in the future. Food for thought!

    • Paul Sellers on 9 November 2016 at 12:49 pm

      I didn’t think we only touched on it. We did make two full length and width 10″ sliding dovetails for the stool as I recall.

  8. Chris Cooper on 9 November 2016 at 9:22 pm

    Why not simply flip the blade over–bevel up?

  9. Bryan McKinnon on 10 November 2016 at 7:53 am


    I just tried this York Pitch method and it worked perfectly. thanks for this little tid-bit of info.


  10. Misha Y on 10 November 2016 at 1:30 pm

    This blog made me surf the web for additional information on York-pitch as I knew nothing on the subject. I looked through a couple of other blogs and came across an article on cap iron setting. It is called How to Make Your Bench Plane Perform At Its Best by David Weaver. On YouTube there’s a good video which that article is based on. (The link in the article didn’t show the video) I gave it a try and must admit that it works. I had a board that I just could not plane smooth even with a newly sharpened iron with a very shallow setting. I followed the instructions and was pleased to get a tearfree surface.

  11. Evan on 11 November 2016 at 5:15 am

    Once again you have answered the question I was going to ask about a plane. I am working some rough pine and need a York pitch. you had mentioned doing the poor mans pitch before, so I was going to ask how, but you have already answered.

  12. justin thiel on 14 November 2016 at 3:50 am

    my clothes have been on shelves and baskets for longer than i can remember after repeatedly attempting to repair dressers in mdf stapled drawers and carcasses falling apart. i have refused to buy a garbage dresser and this is very much part of where i saw the value of woodworking at a young age. have considered buying an older dresser just to see construction techniques cause i was never really quite sure on something so large and then dreaded the thought of trying to glue up and flatten large solid panels.i do believe i am capable of designing and tackling such a project from what ive already learned from your offerings but ill be glad to have this upcoming series. i have wondered for some time if you would be including this type of project in your videos and am very pleased to see them coming.

  13. Michael Wiegand on 20 November 2016 at 4:18 am

    Master Sellers, I would like to know if there is any way you could give us a rough idea of how much lumber we will need to purchase for this project. I just found your posts about this and hope that I am not too late for you to see this so far down the page.

    I posted on your master classes forums but I don’t know if you have time to frequent them. So please disregard if you’ve already read this.

    My wife would like me to build 3 dressers for my children, I will be building this I am almost certain of it. So we would like to go ahead and purchase some lumber for it as Oak, Aromatic Cedar, and Birch are all on sale this month. I know you won’t be able to finish the video before this is over and that is fine of course, but we would like to take advantage of the sale (Red Oak @ $2.15 / bf seems too good to pass up, likewise for the aromatic cedar.)

    Thank you sir, you have served as the single greatest inspiration to my aspirations of woodworking and I have learnt more from you than anyone.

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