This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
Gauge for the dovetails, and cut first those in the ends and chop them out; next place the top and bottom of a carcase on the bench inside uppermost, stand the corresponding carcase end in position, and mark the dovetails on the top and bottom with a marking-awl, repeating the process till you have marked all; then cut the dovetails, taking care to cut to the lines and allowing them to be tight on the outsides so that they may glue up clean and fit well. It is preferable not to cut the shoulders at the front and back now, as unless great care is taken you may, before you are ready to glue up, find the corners knocked off the outside dovetails; chop out your dovetails in the tops and bottoms.
Now take your carcase ends in pairs and set out for the drawers, trays and peg-rails, squaring them across the front edges with a marking-awl lightly, to mark where the grooves come; then square across the width of the end inside and run the grooves; those for the trays and peg-rails 3/16 in. deep, and right through from front to back; for the runners between the drawers, the same depth, but commencing 4 in. from the front edge; and those for the shelves 3/8 in. deep, and also commencing 4 in. from the front edge. Chop down from 4 to 7 1/2 in. from the front edge, in the grooves for the runners between the drawers, to 3/8 in. deep, to receive partition edges. Cut a dovetail on the under side, to 1 in. from the front edge, but cut the top side straight in a line with the groove, so you will have a dovetail on the under side of the partition edge only; having cut the dovetails in the ends, put the partition edges in their respective places, and mark the dovetail on them. Cut them so that they fit, but not too tight, for if they are too tight they will force the partition edge out of square when driven home, and that would interfere with the proper working of the drawers.
Plough grooves on the back edges and also on edges of runners for dust-boards. Cut a shoulder on the front edges to fit between the carcase end 3/8 in. back, that it will allow the edge to come within 5/8 in. of the front edge of the carcase ends, the shelves to be kept back in the same manner, having a dovetail of the same sort on their ends. The division between the drawers may be dovetailed both sides into the edge and shelf.
Rebate the back edges of the outside carcase ends, bringing them to their proper width; bring also the other ends, tops, bottoms and shelves to their proper widths, and clean up all the deal that requires to be coloured (make your colour or have it made so that it may be ready by the time you have cleaned the wood, and in sufficient quantity to do the whole, so that you may have the inside of the job one colour); before using the colour, try it on a piece of wood to see if it is right, and also if there is sufficient glue in it to prevent its being rubbed off when dry. When you have cleaned up all the parts that require colouring, commence to colour, wiping it off with soft shavings, and smoothing it nicely with the palm of your hand. When the whole is coloured, clean up your outside ends inside and out, also your drawer stuff if not already done; by the time you have done that the colour will be dry. Take the panels for the backs, lightly pass a piece of very fine glasspaper over the insides, and, if customary in the shop, wax them; then glue up your carcase backs. Serve the remainder of your coloured work the same as you did the panels, also waxing the inside of the solid ends where seen, and cutting shoulders of tops and bottoms.
Level the frames outside and in, clean up and colour the insides.
Commence to glue your carcases together. A very handy way of doing so is to lay one end on the bench (of course if it is the outside one you must have either a cloth or bench sticks under it), hand-screw it tightly to the bench, and glue the dovetails at one end; drive in the corresponding top or bottom and then the other end. Take off the hand-screws, place the other end of the carcase under the one you now have on the bench, and then turn over the end with the top and bottom glued in, and glue them into the other. Put in your shelf (if there is one), glueing the dovetail only in the groove; place the carcase on its face on the floor, square it with a rod from corner to corner, lit the back, and having waxed the frame inside, screw it in its place and level it off.
When glueing the centre carcase together, commence as with the others, but when you have turned it over to glue the top and bottom into the second end, put your partition edges into the places cut behind the dovetails to receive them; then glue and drive home your top and bottom, glue the dovetails and drive up the partition edges, put in your shelf, glueing the dovetail only; place and glue the division between the drawers in its position. Stand the carcase on the floor on 2 pieces of wood, set it square, and proceed to put the runners in their places, cutting a tenon § in. long on the front ends of them to fit in the plough-groove at the back of the partition edge; plane the runner a shaving or so thinner at the back than the front, and fix it in its place; glue the tenon only, and nail the back end to the end of the carcase. Put the centre runner in with a tenon at the front, and suspend it at the back with a thin lath dovetailed into the back edge of the shelf and end of runner; allow this lath to be just a trifle longer between the shoulders than the front division; it may be 1 1/2 in. wide. Now fit and put the dust-boards in, putting a touch of glue to the front edge to prevent their slipping back should they shrink.
Care must be taken that the runners are at least 3/8 in. shorter than the width of the ends; when in their places, lay your carcase on its face, see that it still remains square, fit the back, wax the frame where necessary, and screw it in and level it. Now level the fronts, tops and bottoms of each carcase, cleaning as you go; place your plinth on the floor where your wardrobe is to stand, and put the centre carcase on it, arrange it in position and fix it there; next place and fix the 2 wings to the plinth, put the cornice on the top, place it in its proper position, and fix the carcases to it, and to each other, putting screws where necessary, but not more than are necessary. Now block the carcases to the plinth and cornice, with 4 blocks about 2 1/2 in. sq. on the top and bottom of each carcase, so that when the job is removed each carcase will immediately go into its proper position. When that is done, wedge the wardrobe up so that it stands true on the front and perpendicular, glue a lath 1/4 in. thick by 1 1/2 in. wide, with bead or edge to the ends of the centre carcase in the angle formed by the wing, and proceed to fit your drawers, trays and peg-rails, and finish them right off, but if possible, when you are ready to glue your drawers together, let in the handles in the fronts before doing so, as it is easier and quicker, for you can lay the front on the bench to do it; when your drawers, etc, are finished, not forgetting the stops, which should allow them to stand in 1/8 in. beyond the front of partition edges and shelves.
The peg-rails standing back about 5/8 in. from the edge of carcase, proceed to make the clothes-well: first the top should be clamped at each end, with a frame outside it consisting of a back and 2 end pieces tenoned together exactly like the lid of a w.c.; glue 2 runners 1 ft. 3 in. long to the carcase ends, 1/4 in. from the front edge and 1/2 in. wider than the side rails of the top frame, having a plough-groove on the edge 3/8 in. deep to receive a sliding front | in. thick; fit in the front and cut a hand-hole at the top to draw it up by; fit the top into top frame and hinge it at the back; place the top frame in its position, resting on the runners at the front, screw through the carcase back into the back rail, and glue blocks under the side rails to fasten them to the carcase ends. Care must be taken not to glue the rails across the ends. Next fit your doors, in doing which allow them to be a full thickness of a veneer (1/32 in.) short, so that they may not drag on the plinth, and allow them to be a trifle wide, so that they just project beyond the carcase end.
When hinging them, keep them up tight under the cornice; but previous to doing that, when your doors are fitted, glue on the pilasters, fit in the panels, fit blind frame, and clean them up, and when your doors are up with hinges and locks all in working order, place them in their respective positions. Make the beads for fixing them there, and then if you have to satisfy any one but yourself, ask the foreman or employer (as the case may be) to examine it, and afterwards take the job to pieces, colour the outside, and you have finished the task. The choice of wood for the structure and designs of the mouldings do not affect the mode of construction.