Tailor Made for Growing & Changing

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This article is from Issue 13 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Finally, you can justify building a high-end changing table. This small piece converts into a chest of drawers, making it one gift that will last far beyond the diapers and onesies. 

The arrival of a newborn is one of those monumental occasions that begs for a special gift. But children grow up fast, so when you’re talking fine furniture, a little ingenuity is called for as well. 

This convertible changing table is a piece that suits the immediate needs of new parents, but can be used indefinitely as a chest of drawers. It is gently styled, neither too severe for a nursery nor too whimsical for a young adult’s bedroom. 

I hope you will enjoy the challenge of building this table. 

Make the templates

Before cutting or milling any stock, create the templates. I prefer to use 1/2" particleboard or MDF, drawing the shapes directly onto the stock. You’ll need good square cuts and straight edges for properly referencing the templates on your stock, so use a table saw to rip the template stock to width and a sled, radial arm saw or sliding miter saw for the crosscuts. 

Seven templates are needed, for parts E, B, M, O, Q and S, and for the elliptical recesses in the drawer faces. Lay out the curves and straight lines with a compass, straightedge and combination square, or use the patterns provided.

For part M, start with a large sheet of template stock. You will be routing a pilot slot for a 1/2" bushing in this piece, so leave the stock oversize to provide support for your router. The pilot slot will later guide the cut for a 1/4" x 7/8" mortise that receives a loose tenon to hold the accessory bar.

The template for M has a through slot 1/2" x 11/8 ", centered on the upper radius at a 41° angle. Install a 1/2" bit in your router and set the depth slightly deeper than your template stock. Place a piece of scrap under the template stock to protect your bench and clamp it securely to your bench, clear of the path of the router. After determining the distance from the bit to the outer edge of the router base, clamp a plywood fence to guide the router at a 41° angle, and rout the through slot (Fig.1). 

With the slot routed, cut the template stock to final dimensions of 4" x 38". Cut template stock for pieces O, Q and E an inch or so wider than the finished workpieces and 2" longer. (1" over length on each end allows for a place to safely stop the router bit bearing when flush-trimming.) 

The template for part B is just a 21/2"-wide piece with a 121/2" radius on one end; its length is not critical, but at least 8" is recommended. The next template is for part S, the drawer pull. Cut this template to the length shown in the drawing and a bit over width, and lay out the curves. Draw the layout lines on the pull template as shown in the drawing. You should have a center line and a target length line 3" left and right of center. The dotted line is the rough-cut line for when the time comes to cut the pulls from the blank. Cut a piece of template stock 9" x 18" for the elliptical recess. Lay out horizontal and vertical center lines and center the shape on these lines. Rough-cut the inside shape with a jig or scroll saw and smooth and refine the shape with an oscillating spindle sander or sandpaper wrapped around a 1" to 2" dowel. 

Now the remaining templates can be rough-cut at the bandsaw. Be sure to stay outside the line by 1/8" or so. For the straight lines I like to use the fence and cut on the line. Finish shaping and smoothing the templates.

Veneer the panels 

The next step is to veneer 1/2 " plywood panels for parts F and G. You could veneer MDF, but plywood is a bit thinner and helps to keep the thickness of the finished panel closer to 1/2 ". Cut the plywood pieces F and G a couple inches oversize. Depending on the veneer you have purchased, you might want to combine parts F and G for one long panel, then crosscut it to maintain the flow of the figure or grain. 

Both sides of the substrate should be veneered at the same time to prevent warping. Prepare the veneer by inspecting it for cracks and repairing them with veneer tape, then cut it with a sharp utility knife and straightedge. Apply masking tape to the cut line to guard against tearout (Fig. 2). 

If you plan to book-match veneer sheets, you’ll need to joint the joining edges. This can be done by sandwiching the sheets between two boards and passing the sandwich over the jointer knives. Secure the sandwich with screws, making sure they will not contact the knives. Join the bookmatched, jointed edges with veneer tape. 

Whether you are using a vacuum press or clamps and cawls, get everything set up before gluing. Apply a generous amount of cold press veneer glue to the substrate only, using a medium-density foam roller. Center the veneer on the substrate and secure the corners with masking tape to prevent shifting. 

Apply clamping or vacuum pressure and let the glue cure overnight. Remove the panels and use a sponge to dampen the veneer tape. After a few minutes the tape is easy to remove. Sand the panels and set them aside.

Mill the rough stock

Mill all of the quartersawn white oak pieces to 3/4", leaving them a bit oversize. I prefer to leave the pieces that will be glued up to form the drawer fronts and hardwood top a little over 3/4" so they can be passed through a drum sander or planer after glueup. If you have defects in your stock (and what stock doesn’t?), use your templates to help plan cuts that will eliminate defects from the final pieces.  

I made the inlaid pulls from African mahogany. Before you mill the African mahogany stock to ½", rout a test channel in a piece of scrap using a 1/2"  diameter router bit. Test the fit of the milled mahogany stock. You’re looking for a snug friction fit. If you have a drum sander this is a great tool to sneak up on a perfect fit. Be sure to use fine grit paper when you’re getting close to final width and don’t do any more sanding on the pull stock until after the pulls are shaped and inlaid in the drawer fronts. 

Glue up pieces for the drawer fronts (parts T and U), top (HH) and part rear arched rail (Q).  Leave the top and drawer fronts oversize for now as they will be carefully fit later. You will also need to mill some 1/4 " tenon stock from white oak for the 1" x 2" loose tenons. Mill 12" or longer blanks for safe milling and routing; you will round over the edges to match the mortises.  

Build the side frames

Cut all hardwood pieces for the sides, which are made up of a frame-and-panel assembly with 1/2" tongue-and-groove construction. The actual width of the tongue and groove depends on the thickness of your panel stock. Use a bearing-guided 1/4" slot cutting bit at 1/2" depth to make test cuts in hardwood scrap that has been milled to the same thickness as your frame stock. Center the groove by running the piece through, then flip it over and run it again. 

You might have a thin strip of waste remaining in the center of the groove (Fig. 3); if so, remove the majority of it with a chisel, then raise the router bit slightly for a final pass.  

Test the fit of the groove with your veneered panel. You want a slip fit, loose but not sloppy. If the fit is too tight, it will make assembly difficult and could damage the veneer. Now rout a test piece for the tongue by lowering the bit and making a pass on each side. 

Once you have a perfect friction fit, mark the test pieces as setup blocks for the tongues and grooves on parts A through E. Rout the tongues on the ends of both E pieces while they are still square. Use an MDF push block to back up the cut and a safety push block to keep the workpiece against the fence and table (Fig. 4). 

Use your template to draw the arc on parts E. Center the template on your workpiece, lining the straight tops up flush. Draw the curve and rough-cut it at the bandsaw, staying about 1/8" out from the line. Attach the template with double-stick tape and trim the arc with a flush-trim bit set at ¾" (Fig. 5). 

Attach the part B template to your workpiece with carpet tape so it’s 1/16" or less from the top of the stock. You can flush-trim this without rough-cutting. Use a starting pin to safely start the cut and a piece of MDF to back up the cut and prevent tearout. Cut parts B to their final length of 261/8". 

Now the tongues can be cut on parts B, C and D. For the curve at the top of part B, make sure the bit bearing makes contact across the entire arc. 

Move on to routing the grooves. Part E is grooved on the curved side only. You might need to shim the bearing on your slot cutter with a washer or two to ensure contact with the workpiece after it’s flipped over for the second pass.

Rout grooves in both sides of parts B and C and one side of parts A and D. 

Be careful when assembling and disassembling the parts, as the shoulders of the grooves are fragile at this stage. When you’re happy with the fit, sand the veneered panels to 200-grit or finer before cutting them to size. Use a fine-tooth plywood blade and apply masking tape to the cut line to guard against chipping out the veneer. 

First rip the panels to width, 63/16". To visually align the veneers, lay out the arch for the top panels, placing a 1" spacer between them (Fig. 6). I used a square piece of 1/2" MDF and a square to reference the arch template close to the top of the panel. Mark and then cut the curve on the bandsaw. There’s no need for flush-trimming, as this cut will be concealed in the groove. 

Now all the panels can be cut to length. Fig. 7 shows how your frame and panel parts should look now. Dry-fit once more before glueup and formulate a clamping strategy. To ensure squareness, I use a simple corner jig clamped to my assembly table (Fig. 8). 

Brush glue on the tongues of the center stile and rails (B and C), and in the groove where the center rails intersect the stile. Add a dab of glue in B’s groove at the midpoints of the top and bottom panels to lock them in place and prevent shifting. Slide the panels into the grooves of the center stile-and-rail assembly. Now add the top and bottom rails with glue applied to the tongues and in the grooves where they meet the tongues, as well as at the midpoints of the panels. 

The outer stiles complete the assembly. Apply glue to the tongues and in the grooves at intersect locations of the upper, lower and center rails. Tap everything together with a dead blow hammer and check for square. The joints at the top and bottom rails should be as flush as possible with the ends of the stiles. Don’t worry if they’re not perfectly flush, as the frame’s ends will be trimmed at the table saw later. 

Clamp the whole assembly, applying pressure to each joint. Remove any squeeze-out that gets on the veneer immediately with a damp sponge or rag. 

When the glue has cured, remove the clamps and use a card scraper to remove dried squeeze-out and flush the joints. Use a sled on the table saw to trim the ends of the assembly. Remove only as much as necessary to flush the ends and keep the two panels even by trimming them equally. Losing a small amount of length on the side is okay. 

Next you’ll need to cut 3/8"  dadoes to receive the 3/4" plywood shelves and upper web frame. Set up your dado blade and make test cuts in scrap, checking the fit with your 3/4"  plywood stock. Refer to the side view drawing and cut the dadoes at the three locations indicated, measuring up from the bottom of the panel (Fig. 9). 

The last step is to round over both sides of the top edge only (Fig. 10). Use a ¾" roundover bit set to a depth just under half the thickness of the stock. 

Construct the carcase

The carcase consists of the two sides, two 3/4"  plywood shelves and one upper web frame. The web frame serves as a base to support and mount the 1/4"  plywood top (for changing table use) or the 3/4" hardwood top (for chest of drawers). 

Before cutting the plywood parts for the shelves and web frame, check the width of the finished sides. The shelves and web frame must be made the same width or just a hair narrower than the side frames. Cut the two plywood shelves (I) to size, then cut parts J, K and L for the web frame. The web frame is joined with pocket screws. Drill three pocket holes in each end of parts J and L.

Parts K require three holes drilled to accommodate desktop fasteners for attaching the hardwood top. Check the thickness of your figure-eight desktop fasteners and drill to the appropriate depth, about 1/8" (Fig. 11). Lay the parts out in their proper configuration and join them with glue and pocket screws (Fig. 12). Make sure the parts are flush and square. 

The carcase is now ready for assembly, but it’s a good idea to sand the parts first. Just be sure not to sand or round over any edges, especially the long-grain edges of the frame-and-panel assembly which will serve as a glue joint for the face and rear frames. Prepare to glueup the carcase by dry-fitting the parts and working out a clamping strategy. Apply glue to the dadoes and to the ends of the shelves and web frame, assemble and clamp. 

Make the face and rear frames

The face frame consists of two stiles (M), three rails (N) and a removable arched rail (O). The frame is joined with pocket screws and the removable, arched top rail attaches to the top face frame rail with mortise and loose tenons. The tenons are glued only to the arched rail and dry-fit into the face frame rail. 

The rear frame consists of two stiles (M), an arched top rail (Q), a lower rail (P) and a center panel (R). Before cutting the rails to size, check the width across the front of the carcase assembly. The rails should be cut to the same length as this inside measurement. 

Select and mark the best two of your four M blanks for the face frame. While the stock is still square, mark the rail intersect locations on all four pieces. Trace your M template, placing the bottom of the foot flush with the bottom of the stock and the straight side of the template flush with the long-grain edge. This edge of the stock should be jointed and square with the bottom edge.

Next rout the 1/4" x 1/2"  groove in the two rear parts M. Use the drawing to lay out the groove, then set up your router table with a 1/4"  straight bit, with the fence set to rout a groove centered on the thickness of the  3/4"  stock. Make test cuts in scrap and check  the groove location for center. A piece of masking tape on the router plate serves as a marking surface to indicate the position of the bit and gives a precise start and stop point (Fig. 13). To avoid potential problems if the groove isn’t quite centered, mark your stock “front” and reference that side against the fence when routing both stiles. 

Parts P and Q each take a 1/4"   x  1/2"   through groove. Since these are not stopped grooves, I used a 1/4"  slot cutter and ran each piece on its face against the fence and bearing (Fig. 14). Use the stopped groove in M as a setup guide. 

These parts also require 2" mortises on each end, in line with the through groove. Mark 21/2"  in from the grooved end —  1/2" for the existing groove and 2" for the mortise. To safely rout the mortises, use a vise and edge guide with a plunge router, or construct a simple jig like my shop-made horizontal mortising jig (Fig. 15). 

Next rout the three mortises in one of the three parts N and O. Refer to the drawing for locations, and rout them using the mortising jig. For a no-hassle fit, make the N mortises a bit over length. 

Rough-cut parts M at the bandsaw, staying about 1/8" outside of the line. Attach the template on the inside face of the stock (side that will face the frame and panel assembly) with carpet tape. To aid in aligning the template, turn the stock and template on their straight edges on a flat surface and align the bottom of the foot flush with the short grain end of your stock (Fig. 16). 

Now rout the mortise for the accessory bar. To provide support for the router, I cut scrap equal to the template and stock thickness and clamped everything securely to the bench (Fig.17). Rout a 1/2"-deep mortise in the workpiece using a plunge router with a  1/2"  bushing and a 1/4"  straight bit. 

With the first mortise complete, leave the template attached and trim the edges flush (Fig.18). Repeat these steps for all four parts M. 

Rough-cut parts O and Q at the bandsaw and trim them flush at the router. 

Now you can rout edge profiles on parts M, O and Q. For part M, use a  1/2" roundover bit and round over both sides of the outside curved areas only. Do not round over the straight edge or the inside curve of the foot. Stop the roundover cut before the top curve meets the straight edge, and ease the transition from round over to straight edge with a sanding block (Fig. 19). 

Rout the same profile on the curved edge of part O. Now lower the 1/4" roundover bit  to make just a hint of a roundover. Rout this profile on both sides of the straight edge of part O and the long-grain edges of parts N. This creates a nice shadow line when the pieces are fit together (Fig. 20).  

Install a 1/4" cove bit and rout a cove on the inside curve of the foot on the forward-facing side (Fig. 21). Rout a profile on the curved edge of part Q on the forward-facing side; I used a roman ogee. 

Cut part H to size, making sure it’s the same length as the side assembly width. Rout a 7/8" x 1/4" mortise, ½" deep, centered on each end of the pieces. This is best done with a simple mortising jig. Round over the edges with a 3/4" roundover bit (Fig. 22). 

Next drill two pocket holes on the insides of parts N. Locate the holes about 3/4"  apart and make sure they are not too close to the edge. 

Place the stiles and rails (N and M) on your assembly table with the pocket holes and mortises facing up. To properly space the rails, place 11" and 13" story sticks between them (Fig. 23). For best results, clamp the assembly together before driving the screws. Cut scraps to fit the top curved profiles for clamping. Downward clamping pressure is also recommended. I used a bit of glue and 11/4" square-drive pocket screws. 

Now for the rear frame assembly. Cut the center panel (R) from 1/4" plywood. Prepare tenon stock by rounding the edges to match the mortises; a 1/4"  beading bit works well, even a portion of any bit that has a 1/8" roundover. Cut seven 1/4" x 2" x 1" loose tenons to size, four for the rear frame and three for the removable front arch rail. 

Dry-fit the rear frame assembly in its entirety (Fig. 24). Use the marks made earlier on the stiles for rail alignment. If all is well, pre-sand the plywood panel and glue the assembly together, again making use of contoured clamping blocks. 

Fit the top arch rail (O) so it will slide between the face frame stiles by trimming just a hair off each end, then glue the three tenons into O only. 

The face and rear frames are now complete. Scrape the joints flush and sand the assemblies, but avoid sanding the inside-facing stiles where they will join the carcase assembly. 

Fit the drawer faces

It’s best to fit the drawer faces to the face frame before it is glued to the carcase. You’ll need to make some 1/8"  shims for proper gap spacing. Use the shims and some scrap story sticks to test the drawer length and width measurements before cutting your drawer faces to size. Test fit the drawer faces in the frame with the shims until you have the perfect fit (Fig. 25). 

Attach the face and rear frame

The face and rear frames can now be glued to the sides to form the carcase. Since we’re gluing long grain to long grain, no joinery or fasteners are needed. Make an identical set of four 31/2"  shim blocks to elevate the side panels. Make sure the carcase shelves don’t protrude past the long-grain edges of the sides, and check for dried glue that could interfere with the joint. 

Dry-fit the face frame with the feet flat on the table and align the inside edges of the stiles flush with the edges of the sides. Check the alignment of the top rail to see that it is flush with the top web frame. The shim blocks can be shimmed or trimmed to compensate for misalignment. 

When you’re happy with the fit, apply glue to the mating surfaces and clamp (Fig. 26). 

To aid in aligning the rear frame, I attached a block of wood near each corner for quick reference of the stile edges to the carcase inside edges (Fig. 27).  As you glue up the rear frame, you will also be gluing the accessory bars in place using 1/4" x 7/8" x 1" loose tenons. After performing a dry-fit, apply glue to the mortises and loose tenons and mating surfaces of the frame and case and clamp it up (Fig. 28). Remove the guide blocks immediately so they aren’t glued to the case. 

Rout the drawer faces 

The drawer faces have inlaid pulls centered on elliptical recesses. I strongly recommend that you experiment first by making a mockup out of MDF for the recess, inlay channel and pull. 

Locate the pull location center and draw horizontal and vertical layout lines. Measure 3" out from the center to each side, for a 6" pull. Clamp the ellipse template in place, making sure your router won’t bump into the clamps during routing (Fig. 29). Install a 1/2"  straight bit and a 1" bushing or collar in your plunge router. Place the router on the template and bottom out the bit on the workpiece. Use a 5/16" gauge block to set the cut depth, which is — you guessed it — 5/16" 

Now rout out the material inside the template area. Repeat this step on the remaining drawer face pull locations. Next, add a cove cut to the perimeter by installing a 1/2" core box or bullnose bit and 5/8" collar. Carefully reattach the template and set the cut depth so the bit barely bottoms out in the recess, and rout the cove around the perimeter. Sand the inside of the recess (Fig. 30). 

The next step is to rout the 1/2" pull channel. Install an edge guide on your plunge router and set the distance so that the bit will be centered on the pull location centerline. Simplify setting the guide by installing a V-groove bit or a 1/8"  straight bit to pinpoint bit center on your layout line. Now install a 1/2" straight bit and set the plunge depth for  7/16". Clamp your work securely to the table and rout the channel in two or three incremental passes to ensure good control. Stop short of the layout line and square the inlay channel ends with careful chiseling (Fig. 31). 

Now rout the edge profile. I used an edge-forming bit that is part of a CMT door-making set to give the edges a nice raised-panel effect 

(Fig. 32). I stop the cut when I have 1/2" of material left behind the cut. This 1/2" reveal plays an important role in making the cove flush with the face frame after the drawers and faces are mounted. 

Make the pulls

One 36"-long pull blank allows for five 6" pulls spaced 7" apart on center. This gives you two extras for selective elimination in the event of error. Start by marking your stock for pull center locations; mark the first line 31/2"  from one end and mark every 7" after that. 

Now lay out lines for the 6" target length of each pull. These lines should be placed 3" left and right of pull center. Lay out the curves by indexing the template on each center line and flush with the edge of your stock. 

Rout a shallow finger grab, about 1/8" to  3/16" deep, in the blank (Fig. 33). I made this cut using a 3/4" bullnose bit with the fence at 13/4" from bit center. 

Rough-cut the pull blank at the bandsaw. Attach the template with carpet tape, aligning the centerline and straight edges. Now flush-trim the shape at the router table, moving the template down the blank until all the pulls are trimmed (Fig. 34). 

Round over the top of each pull’s arc with a 1/4" roundover bit, setting the fence 1/4" back from bearing center. Experiment with scrap to find the desired bit height. I use a combination of the fence and bit bearing to guide the cut and keep it strictly on the arc portion of the pull blank (Fig. 35). You might be tempted to do some sanding at this point, but I don’t sand them until they are inlaid. 

Now set your table saw fence at  7/8" and rip the blank (Fig. 36). Use a miter saw to crosscut the pulls close to their target length of 6". Each pull will be fit into its channel by carefully sneaking up on the final length. This can be tedious, but patience pays off with a seamless fit. Use a sanding disc and 90˚ fence, or carefully shave off small amounts at the miter saw. 

To shave small amounts at the miter saw, place the blade in the down position and butt the piece against the side of the blade. Now, without moving the workpiece, raise the blade and make the cut. This removes about 1/32"  of material. 

Test fit the pull after each cut and work toward a seamless fit. A tight, shallow dry-fit is perfect; apply glue and drive them home with a dead blow hammer (Fig. 37). You should have 1/16"  to 1/8" of material proud of the inlay channel (Fig. 38). Now scrape and sand the inlay flush, and sand the pull.

Build the drawer boxes

The drawer boxes are maple plywood and edged with 1/8" strips of white oak. A simple yet strong tongue-and-groove joint makes for drawer boxes that will stand the test of time. 

Start by ripping the front and back pieces to width and crosscut them a couple inches over length. You’ll need to rip or mill thin pieces of hardwood for the edge treatments. Use 13/16"  or thicker stock for the 3/4" ply pieces and 5/8"  or so for the 1/2"  ply pieces. 

Cut some hardwood blanks the same length as the oversize plywood stock. I use a stop block on the left of the blade to reference the stock and move the fence for each cut to safely rip thin strips on the left or waste side of the blade. You may want to joint the hardwood edge after each rip and one side of the plywood stock. Or if you have a drum sander running the hardwood strips through with a fine grit makes for a seamless joint. I glue the hardwood to the ply so it overhangs on each side by placing shims under the plywood pieces (Fig. 39). To save time, clamp two pieces face to face — just be sure no glue is between the two edge treatments.

When the glue has cured, level the hardwood edges. I first use a block plane, being careful to keep it level and to plane in the direction of the grain. When I start to get too close for comfort, I switch to a card scraper and carefully bring the edging pretty well flush (Fig. 40). I finish the job with a sanding block, taking care not to round over the edges. 

Finally, I clean up the top of the hardwood with a cabinet scraper, removing any burn marks or uneven spots left by the saw blade. 

Cut the pieces to final size. It’s a good idea to also rip them once more to final width, referencing the hardwood edging against the fence. This will cancel out any inconsistency in the edging thickness that may affect the width of the piece. 

Now it’s time to cut the joinery. Set up a dado blade for a 1/4" -wide cut. The first cut will be the dado in the 1/2" -thick pieces. Set your miter gauge at 90° and clamp a small stop block to the fence. I also clamp a straight piece of wood to the miter gauge as an extension and to back up the cut. 

Run the workpieces through, referencing them against the stop block (Fig. 41). To guard against tearout, place masking tape on the cut line (Fig. 42). 

Form the tongue on the 3/4" pieces. Start with the blade 1/2"  high and make test cuts and adjustments until you have a 1/4"  tongue with a nice fit in the dado. Now run the pieces using the miter extension for support. The result should look like Fig. 43. 

Dry-fit the parts and measure the width of the box. It should be 33", or 1" less than your carcase inside width. 

Now cut the dado to receive the drawer bottom. It’s easy to confuse which side gets the dado, so mark them accordingly. Using your 1/4"  dado blade, set the cut depth at 5/16"  and set the fence 1/2"  from the inside of the blade. Run all the pieces through.

Now cut the 1/4"  plywood bottoms to size. Dry-fit the boxes with the bottoms in place. Pre-sand the parts, then glue them up. Check for square by measuring the diagonals. Use a card scraper and sanding block to flush the joints of the edging.

Fit and shape the top

Carefully trim the endgrain of the hardwood top and the plywood top to fit between the case sides. I shaped the front edge of the hardwood top using a roman ogee bit on the top side and a 3/4" roundover bit on the underside. 

Install drawer guides and faces

You should apply the finish of your choice before installing the drawers and attaching the drawer faces. 

After finishing, attach the drawer guides. Pre-drilling will make life easier, and story sticks assist with accurate placement of the guides in the case. Make three sets of story sticks: one 1"-tall set for the bottom drawers in both upper and lower compartments, one for the top drawer measuring 63/16",  and the third for the third drawer measuring 73/16". 

Start by mounting the guides on the boxes. Reference the guide assembly on your workbench with the front edge flush with the drawer box face. Slide the guide out a bit to expose the screw hole and pre-drill and drive the first screw (Fig. 44). Repeat for the remaining screws then remove the portion of the guide that will mount to the case.

Use the story sticks to support the guides and mount the top guide in each compartment first. (For single-drawer changing table version, mount the top guide only.) I used a 1/2" MDF block to reference the guide 1/2" back from the front of the face frame (Fig. 45). The drawer face has a 1/2" reveal, so setting the guide 1/2" back will make the cove profile flush with the face frame. Your measurement might differ depending on the reveal of your drawer face. 

Repeat the steps for the remaining guides, using the proper story sticks. Slide the drawer boxes in to check the fit and clearance. 

To install a drawer face, apply carpet tape to the drawer box. Use the shims you made earlier when fitting the faces to the face frame. Position the face and press it firmly in place (Fig. 46). 

The holding power of the tape can be unreliable on finished surfaces, so carefully pull the drawer slightly out by grasping the drawer box lower lip while holding the face in place. I fire a couple of 11/4" brad nails to secure it before removing it from the case.  Be careful not to place the brads near the elliptical recesses. 

With the face tacked in place, take the box to your bench and attach the face with three 11/4" pan head screws. Be careful to place the screws so as not to protrude through the elliptical recess. I used a 3" gauge block to locate and pre-drill for the screws (Fig. 47). Repeat the steps to mount the remaining faces. 

Install the top

For the changing table version, install the 1/4"  plywood top, securing it with 1/2" pan head screws . The changing pad will conceal the screws. Slide the front rail on, and your changing table is complete. 

To convert the changing table to a chest of drawers, remove the front rail and 1/4"  plywood top. Secure figure-eight desktop fasteners to the top web frame with the screws provided (Fig. 48). Pre-drilling is not necessary for plywood application. Fit the hardwood top in place, pre-drill and attach with screws. 

Closing notes

When moving this piece of furniture, do not carry it by the accessory bars. They are intended for hanging towels or other accessories like a diaper stacker. Always remove the drawers before moving, but make sure to put them back in their original order. 

With its sturdy construction and versatility, this convertible changing table is sure to be in your family for generations.

Materials & Hardware

4/4 quartersawn white oak (31 bf)
4/4 African mahogany (3 bf)
½" veneer substrate ply (4.25 square feet)
MDF or other template material (½ sheet)
¾" white oak ply (11 square feet)
¾" maple ply (10 square feet)
½" maple ply (4.5 square feet)
¼" maple ply (15.5 square feet)
¼" white oak ply (5.7 square feet)
mahogany crotch veneer (6 square feet)
#6 1¼" pocket screws
figure-eight desktop fasteners (6)
16" full-extension drawer slides (4 pairs)
½" pan head screws
1¼" brad nails
materials for finish of your choice
veneer glue
veneer tape
masking tape
carpet tape
yellow wood glue
medium-density foam roller
glue brushes
waxed paper or craft paper

Dewayne Baker

Dewayne lives in Vacaville, Calif., where he has been employed as a recycling route driver with Norcal Waste Systems, Inc. for 21 years. He has been a hobby woodworker for seven years, mostly making furniture for family members. He enjoys crafting original pieces and loves to incorporate curves into his designs.


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