My first drawer(s) - made from scrap/construction lumber

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Project by John146 posted 03-30-2017 05:26 PM 1557 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I wanted to learn how to make drawers, but I didn’t want to waste good hardwood doing so. I had quite a bit of construction plywood and BORG culls (sheathing, underlayment etc.; also 2x, 3x, 4x, etc.) laying around, so I used those instead.

I made the case form construction plywood using 2×2s and wide tenons for the joints. I cut the tenons on the table saw, and the mortises with a drill press and finishing up with some chisels. The tenons on the sides and back are pretty wide. I made the tenons using a shop-made tenoning jig – I found plans on

The frame on the front is made from some kind of reclaimed pine. Maybe sugar pine or spruce. The frame was also attached using tenons. I’m really starting to like M&T because I’ve found it more adjustable and forgiving than other forms of joinery (e.g. pocket holes, dowels) – in that if the fit is a bit off lengthwise, you can modify the mortise or tenon and still get a pretty strong joint.

It was quite difficult to make the tenons in the plywood

The drawers themselves were made with culled 1×3 for the front and back (I ran out of the nice sweet smelling pine :( ), and pines for the sides. I used a Hazard Fraught dovetail jig (I prefer the name over “Harbor Freight”), and after much pain and angst, got it to mostly work. The fronts are 3/4 and the sides I planed to 1/2”.

The bottom of the drawers are 1/8 hardboard glued and nailed in place in a rabbet I cut on the bottoms. I made a mistake in the bigger drawer by making the rabbet through the entire length of the face. I didn’t repeat the same mistake in the smaller drawer, where I plunged it on the table just past the outer face.

I also made centering strips, runners, and stop blocks – all out of pine.

Since this was a project made out of scrapwood juist to build my skills for good wood, I didn’t bother applying any stain or finish on it – my wife likes it though.

I got the whole idea from a FWW plan ( – you need a subscription). I didn’t make the drop leaf though.

[I’m not sure why the last two images look strange when zoomed in the site]

-- John 14:6

4 comments so far

View fivecodys's profile


1268 posts in 1871 days

#1 posted 03-30-2017 06:00 PM

I have built a few things that were mainly just for learning purposes. A couple of them I actually kept and I use in the shop. A few were just not ….welll….good. But I learned from them. I try to use old pallet wood for these experiments. If nothing else I chop them up and use them for kindling in the wood stove! :)
Thanks for sharing your project with us.

-- I always knew I would grow old, But I expected it to take longer!

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 882 days

#2 posted 03-30-2017 07:34 PM

Good practice … now you a neat little chest of drawers for odds and ends around the shop! I hope you learned a lot. Keep it up!

View BurlyBob's profile


6030 posts in 2500 days

#3 posted 03-31-2017 04:14 AM

I totally agree with you about dry run practice pieces. That way you work all the bugs out before you start the real thing. I’ve started doing that a few years ago and it pays off in the long run. Regarding your drawer, I would advise a rabbet for the bottom versus a dado. It would hold the bottom piece more securely over the long run.

View John146's profile


90 posts in 679 days

#4 posted 03-31-2017 02:40 PM

BurlyBob – Did you mean a dado instead of a rabbet? I have a rabbet there already, unless I’m confused on terms

Dado is a groove that has walls on both sides, while a rabbet is essentially a dado on the edge of a piece with only one wall, and is open on the other side.

I wasn’t too crazy about using a rabbet here, but the plan specifically called for it, and it made sense considering the height of the drawers (1-1/2 and 2-1/2). You’d have wasted space with a dado.. and considering how small those drawers are anyway, I don’t think they’d ever be holding enough contents for it to make a difference.

-- John 14:6

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