How Do You Make Drawers? from
One saying regarding woodworking
that's been heard around our offices more than once is that "there
are many ways to skin a cat" -- or to accomplish something in
woodworking. The responses to the original query from this thread
aptly demonstrated that. The original poster wanted to know others'
guidelines for making drawers. - Editor
to ask this, but: How deep should the groove be? How tight should
the bottom be? How thick should my sides be? I have been making
drawers by creating a dovetailed rectangle carcass and then cutting a
groove for the bottom. I usually use plywood for the bottom (1/4"
or 1/2"). Assume I make the groove 3/16" deep and the
bottom 1/16" undersized. I can have 1/16" play on either
side. Even if the board moves 1/16" to the side, I still have
1/8" in both grooves to support the bottom. Is this safe? If I
make a 3/16" groove, then how thick must the sides be? If the
board is not thick enough, might the drawer break along the groove?
Are there any rules of thumb, such as, 'for a large dresser drawer,
use sides that are at least 5/8" thick (or 1/2" thick) and
cut a groove 1/4" thick'? How about a small desk drawer? When I
start thinking that I want a drawer that might be 2" or less
deep, then cutting a groove starts taking a bunch of the depth
because I might lose about 1/2" just to making room for the
bottom." - Andrew P.
people said that, while there is no one right way, it's helpful to
find "your" way.. - Editor
you are just making drawers on rare occasion, then how you make them
might not really matter as long as they will last. But if you make
drawers on a good basis, then you would want to get a system for
yourself that you can just use over and over again, Using the same
type and thickness of materials to make you life easier by having the
materials questions already answered for you." - Leo G.
is no one right way. I usually do half-blind dovetails front and
back. 5/8" stock. 1/4" ply bottom. Groove is 5/16"
deep into the stock, and 1/2" up from the bottom (because I
often use Blum undermount Blumotion slides). Everything fits tightly
together. Whether it's dressers, bedside tables, or kitchen cabinets,
I do them all this way. I have varied these dimensions for various
projects, but like I said, there is no one right way." - Clint
the others have said, there's a whole lot of ways to make drawers,
and none is necessarily better than another. Having made a lot of
drawers, I've revised my system several times, and this is my setup
now. I use either 5/8" or 3/4" drawer stock depending on
the application. I use 3/8" veneered MDF for the drawer bottoms
as I just don't like how thin and flexible the 1/4" material is,
especially on larger drawers. I make the groove for the drawer bottom
as deep as the dovetail allows.
I run a front through the dado blade, adjusting so the groove runs
exactly down the inside of a dovetail recess, then I raise the blade
up until it's just shy of the top of the recess. This way, the groove
disappears when you assemble the box. I also go one step further and
rip the back groove of the box off. This way allows me to install the
bottom after I assemble the drawers, which make sit much easier for
me to finish and allows for removal of the bottom down the road if
necessary. Now, if you're not using dovetails, you can make your
grooves any size you want. I don't see a reason to have them any
exact size. And further, if you're not using undermount slides, you
can have as little material under the bottom as you feel practical. I
think 1/4" in a maple drawer, for instance, would be fine."
- Jeff D.
shared their own favorite drawer making techniques and
specifications. - Editor
use 1/2" stock(usually poplar) for the sides. I use 1/4"
plywood for the bottom. I cut a 1/4" x 1/4" grove 1/4"
from the bottom. Slides usually determine the grove height for the
bottom, though. If the drawer is really big, I use 1/2" plywood
and cut a 1/4" rabbet around the edge so it fits into the 1/4"
grove. On good stuff, I use dovetails. For quick stuff, I use
dado/rabbet combo. I got a really good deal on a drawer lock bit I
want to try sometime." - Cary F.
cabinetry, I frequently do pocket-hole screw drawers made from 5/8"
Baltic birch. However, for my kitchen, I bought pre-made,
pre-finished dovetailed drawers in maple for about $40/drawer. I'll
go that route in the future for cabinetry if I need more than a
couple. If I hadn't already bought slides, they could have provided
those, too, and with the cost savings from their pricing, it would
have been about break even vs. the cost of materials and slides
purchased on my own. For furniture, I've dovetailed with a jig, by
hand, and used through Dominos. On a couple very small drawers, I've
just done rabbets. " - Matt M.
drawers, I favor drawer-lock joints or even pocket-holes. [Greene and
Greene] stuff gets the traditional exaggerated finger joints.
Traditional stuff will get a hodgepodge of joinery as I see fit. My
go-to joint for drawers is the drawer-lock as it is quick,
self-aligning and not unattractive. I see too many dovetails and tend
to avoid them except for panels, but that's just me. They are a
staple of any crafts
The woodworker who asked this
question wanted to know if it was OK to use a resource on hand --
exterior treated lumber -- for other purposes, or if that raised
concerns. As he put it, "What's in it, anyhow?" - Editor
have a lot of that treated pine that 's used for decks, walkways,
etc. I was thinking of using it now and then for jigs and stuff --
nothing special. But I'm worried about chemicals or whatever. What's
in it, anyhow? Should I just throw it out? I cut a few pieces
yesterday, and it just looks and smells like ordinary pine to me.
What's the story?" - Eliot D.
response dealt with the "stuff" that used to be in exterior
treated lumber, vs. what's in it now. - Editor
years ago, the treatment included arsenic, but that has been replaced
with a different forumlation with copper, chrome and something else
which is supposed to be a lot safer since there is no arsenic. If you
Google you can find lots of info and, not surprisingly, some
conflicting. Now, there is a difference in walking on, playing on and
holding the wood compared to other activities such as cutting,
planing and drilling. In these operations, very fine dust particles
can be produced and some will end up in your lungs. For this reason,
I cut it all outside and try to wear some form of dust protection. I
dread having to rip any in my shop and avoid it if I can. I have had
people say they experienced a chemical taste in their mouth after
handling the wood a lot with their bare hands. I had that happen when
using the liquid that is put on fresh end-grain cuts. So I wouldn't
be using it where I had to work it in any manner. I also don't
consider myself a eco-nut or nervous Nellie, but I would sooner avoid
this stuff for any application that doesn't benefit from the
rot-resisting treatment." - Bill H.
talked about "the new stuff" -- and the concerns about it
causing corrosion of fasteners. - Editor
you have had it for about ten years or more, and if its green, it's
probably treated with ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary). This is the
'new' stuff and is supposed to be less harmful to humans, but is very
corrosive to metal. This is what brought out the whole generation of
special deck fasteners. Google ACQ and you will get more info than
you want. There is another chemical based on borates that is less
corrosive, but it was not stable in the wood in the presence of
water, so was not suitable for exterior use. Someone has figured out
how to make it suitable for decks. It darkens the wood slightly. I
would not want to use any more of it than necessary in my shop
because I am concerned about corroding tops, etc., and the health
issues."- Barry I.
wood and/or sawdust from treated wood will stain your cast -iron
surfaces. Using it for jigs is not a good idea." - Howard A.
weighing in on this thread was a landscape architect who has been
working with and learning about exterior treated lumber for over 30
years -- and who still isn't happy about the options out there. -
a landscape architect, I have specified and researched outdoor woods
and materials for over 30 years. That's long enough to observe the
life cycle of most of my projects. The solutions for material to use
always have 'pro' and 'con' attributes. Avoid using treated wood for
anything but exterior construction. The dust and contact with the
wood is dangerous -- think smoking tobacco, on steroids. Don't burn
it -- the fumes are extremely toxic. The chemicals will 'rot' through
most fasteners in a few years. Toxicity is never something to be
casual about. I love the smell of Western red cedar, but need
breathing protection when working with it and must shower immediately
after a session. Things that are extremely frustrating about treated
wood are the lack of waste disposal and 'government' notions that
natural preservative woods, e.g., cedar, cypress, redwood, need to be
used instead. Trouble is those woods deteriorate faster than they can
be replaced with new stock. They are not 'sustainable.' Heat-treated
lumber is showing great promise as a nontoxic alternative." -