Dovetail Drawer Material

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Shay posted 1660 days ago 1922 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Shay's profile


59 posts in 2396 days

1660 days ago

I’m curious what others use for dovetail drawers. I’m going to be making some soon for the kitchen and I can’t decide what I want to use. The fronts will be Maple but I’m not sure about the boxes. I’m thinking either Red Oak, Soft Maple or Poplar. I thought about Birch Ply but I don’t want to deal with the tearout.

I’ve done Oak drawers before so I’m leaning towards that but I’ve never done Maple or Poplar so wasn’t sure if they’d look better? Or better to work with?


-- Centerville, MN - Hobbyist and DIYer

8 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


111999 posts in 2172 days

#1 posted 1660 days ago

Well Shay
Drawers are made from many types of wood depending on what kind of the piece it goes in. You can use any of the woods you listed. Even in nicer pieces of furniture the drawers are made of a secondary{less expensive) wood.

-- Custom furniture

View PurpLev's profile


8476 posts in 2244 days

#2 posted 1660 days ago

soft maple, or poplar would be easier to work with than oak. usually the general rule is to go by what’s locally available and low cost – some places it’s soft maple, other’s its poplar – it doesn’t have to be super pretty as it’s internal, but because there is a lot of material involved – the lower cost per BF makes a difference financially.

I wouldn’t go with ply if you plan on doing dovetails. use hardwood.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View pmayer's profile


565 posts in 1660 days

#3 posted 1660 days ago

if you use baltic birch plywood, rather than the cheaper birch ply, you should not have a problem with tearout. I love using this stuff for drawers. solid, stable, machines well, takes finish nicely and looks great. You can buy it inexpensively in various sized sheets at Menards.

-- PaulMayer,

View REME's profile


26 posts in 1908 days

#4 posted 1660 days ago

On kitchen cabinets I prefer 1/2 birch ply. As far as tear out with making dovetails. I prefinish the drawer parts before dovetailing. It reduces the tear out.

-- - Mike

View bladeburner's profile


88 posts in 1682 days

#5 posted 1660 days ago

Soft maple & cherry are the same hardness. Whereas Hard or sugar maple is much harder and will dull the bit really fast. Lumberyard soft maple, around here currently cost the same as BORG poplar.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5364 posts in 2024 days

#6 posted 1660 days ago

Since there is zip for local hardwoods around here (except mesquite…$$$$), I prefer poplar or BB ply.
I get very little (almost none) tear out with BB.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View TheDane's profile


3646 posts in 2258 days

#7 posted 1660 days ago

I like to use poplar as a secondary wood, including drawer boxes, dust frames, etc.

For drawer boxes I plane it to 1/2”, then cut the dovetails to 1:6.

For drawer bottoms, I prefer BB, either 1/4” or 3/8” depending on the drawer depth (the assumption is that deeper drawers will have to support heavier loads).

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Shay's profile


59 posts in 2396 days

#8 posted 1660 days ago

Thanks guys, I think I’ll do a price comparison of Poplar and Soft Maple and use one of those. I like the idea of using BB for the floor too, have to remember that.

-- Centerville, MN - Hobbyist and DIYer

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics :: gardening showcase