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Advice for trimming a piece of particle board and adding a brace to the bottom of dresser drawers.

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Forum topic by bellybuttonfunk posted 02-05-2016 08:28 AM 1270 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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bellybuttonfunk

8 posts in 309 days


02-05-2016 08:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sander plane planer carving tool sanding question

I need to trim about 1/4” off of a strip of particle board (5 boards total) that has laminate type of “finish” on one side. Not too concerned about the finish as the front of the dresser drawer will conceal the bottom of these strips, but do not want to rip the finish off the whole front. What would be some options (on a budget)?

Would these work?
$8 Pocket Plane
Black & Decker RTX-B rotary tool with various small Hitachi sanding attachments
Sanding by hand
Stanley 12” compass saw
Coping saw

Image of strip

http://i.imgur.com/ieDnrjJ.jpg

Will have to trim off just above that hole

http://i.imgur.com/iaiSePw.jpg

For the bottom of the dresser drawers I want to add a 4 or 6” wide x 1/4” deep/high wood brace in the middle, lenghtwise (left to right). What would be the best option to secure the wood? I only have about 1/4” of particle board to go through. Screws? Brad nails? What size? Best type of wood to use as a brace?

Each drawer will have around 50 LBS. The bottom of the drawer does hold the weight but just want to be safe. The rails will hold the weight, though the empty slot where the rails slide into on the drawer is not that deep, but they will not be opened too much.

Bottom of drawer

http://i.imgur.com/dpm5Uck.jpg

Edge height I have to work with for screws/nails

http://i.imgur.com/4McQml6.jpg


14 replies so far

View DrTebi's profile

DrTebi

256 posts in 2733 days


#1 posted 02-05-2016 09:06 AM

Assuming these are the only tools you have, and don’t want to buy anything else, I would go for the coping saw. Sanding or grinding 1/4” would take way too long; planing particle board doesn’t really work too well.

If you could get a miterbox, or set something that is similar to a miterbox to keep your pieces and cuts straight, the coping saw would be an easy way to deal with this. If that’s not possible, a least use an angle to mark a straight line with a sharp knife before you saw, so that you will have a reference for your saw cuts.

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bellybuttonfunk

8 posts in 309 days


#2 posted 02-06-2016 02:37 AM



Assuming these are the only tools you have, and don t want to buy anything else, I would go for the coping saw. Sanding or grinding 1/4” would take way too long; planing particle board doesn t really work too well.

If you could get a miterbox, or set something that is similar to a miterbox to keep your pieces and cuts straight, the coping saw would be an easy way to deal with this. If that s not possible, a least use an angle to mark a straight line with a sharp knife before you saw, so that you will have a reference for your saw cuts.

- DrTebi

Thanks for the reply. Those are what I have right now. I have been meaning to buy a circular saw. Would that be better or too much power for that type of wood? A guide line with a razor is a great idea. Thanks

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 554 days


#3 posted 02-06-2016 04:15 AM

For your bottom brace, just go to the home store and look in the Craft Wood section They should have 1/4” thick pieces of oak there, which would work fine for what you need You can simply use some wood glue to glue the oak to the drawer bottom, it will hold fine. Put some weight on it while the glue dries.

-- Learn Relentlessly

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JBrow

819 posts in 387 days


#4 posted 02-06-2016 04:37 AM

bellybuttonfunk,

Back in the day before sheet goods, drawer bottoms were solid wood with the edges tapered to fit into the drawer sides and front and back grooves. A similar approach for your drawers could be taken by adding to the thickness of the entire bottom up to the sides and front and back.

Cut a piece of ¼” thick plywood to just fit inside the drawer box. Glue the plywood on the underside of the drawer bottom, where it will not be seen. The glue must be evenly spread over the entire drawer bottom surfaces to ensure a good board across the entire mating surfaces.

Contact cement or wood glue, if the particle board has no surface coating, would work as glue. If contact cement is used, buy a J roller and firmly press the plywood onto the drawer bottom. If wood glue is used, support the entire underside of the drawer bottom with the drawer setting with the drawer cavity up. Fill the drawer cavity with weight to press the wood glue into the particle board and plywood.

Since the most likely failure of the particle board drawer bottom is near the center of the bottom, adding ¼” of thickness to the bottom will reduce the chances of failure in the center regions.

The only other thin material option for a brace like you are considering would be metal 90 degree braces on both sides of the brace at the front and back, screwed in place. However, the screws to attach the metal angle would be short and would not stay put in the particle board sides. Also, I am not sure you could find angled metal that would fit on the underside of the drawer.

View bellybuttonfunk's profile

bellybuttonfunk

8 posts in 309 days


#5 posted 02-06-2016 07:17 AM



For your bottom brace, just go to the home store and look in the Craft Wood section They should have 1/4” thick pieces of oak there, which would work fine for what you need You can simply use some wood glue to glue the oak to the drawer bottom, it will hold fine. Put some weight on it while the glue dries.

- David Taylor


That is what I should be looking under Craft/Hobby wood, great idea. Thanks.

View bellybuttonfunk's profile

bellybuttonfunk

8 posts in 309 days


#6 posted 02-06-2016 07:20 AM



bellybuttonfunk,

Back in the day before sheet goods, drawer bottoms were solid wood with the edges tapered to fit into the drawer sides and front and back grooves. A similar approach for your drawers could be taken by adding to the thickness of the entire bottom up to the sides and front and back.

Cut a piece of ¼” thick plywood to just fit inside the drawer box. Glue the plywood on the underside of the drawer bottom, where it will not be seen. The glue must be evenly spread over the entire drawer bottom surfaces to ensure a good board across the entire mating surfaces.

Contact cement or wood glue, if the particle board has no surface coating, would work as glue. If contact cement is used, buy a J roller and firmly press the plywood onto the drawer bottom. If wood glue is used, support the entire underside of the drawer bottom with the drawer setting with the drawer cavity up. Fill the drawer cavity with weight to press the wood glue into the particle board and plywood.

Since the most likely failure of the particle board drawer bottom is near the center of the bottom, adding ¼” of thickness to the bottom will reduce the chances of failure in the center regions.

The only other thin material option for a brace like you are considering would be metal 90 degree braces on both sides of the brace at the front and back, screwed in place. However, the screws to attach the metal angle would be short and would not stay put in the particle board sides. Also, I am not sure you could find angled metal that would fit on the underside of the drawer.

- JBrow


I was thinking of making the sides, back and bottom of the drawers with real wood and just using the front part of the drawer but I hit a roadblock when trying to figure out how to use the drawer rails/slides. I guess a router (which I do not have) to cut out the notch on the side of the drawers for the rails. If this does not work then I will go that route.

I thought of metal for a brace but as you said I cannot think/find anything that would fit. I seen some type of strapping made for dresser drawers being sold from the UK but the cost is too high.

Now that I think of it maybe some steel 1/4” rods/dowels? But how would I attach them? Maybe since the edge is only 1/4 I could use a 1/8 steel rod and drill a small hole on each side and use some adhesive to keep it in place?

Thanks for the help.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 948 days


#7 posted 02-06-2016 12:29 PM

I would not expect those drawers to hold up long with 50# in them. It is cheap knock down furniture and the bottoms are not thick enough. Don’t invest any time in trying to beef them up.

You’re on track thinking about building drawers out of real wood.

I would use 1/2” bottoms for that much weight.

Plenty of videos out there on building drawers and installing slides.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

819 posts in 387 days


#8 posted 02-06-2016 05:05 PM

bellybuttonfunk,

Replacing drawer boxes with ones you build where you have limited tools but drawer slides that came with dresser can be done, but you would lose a little interior space. No grooves would have to be cut, no router required.

The drawer slides could be surface mounted to the drawer sides. The outside width of the drawer box would have to be reduced by the depth of the existing grooves that accept the drawer slides on the existing drawers.

The new drawer box sides would be glued and screwed to the ends of new drawer box front and back. The drawer bottom could be screwed to the bottom of the new drawer box, or set into the new drawer box and screwed in place through the new drawer box sides and front and back.

If you use ½” plywood for the drawer boxes, use red oak, maple, or birch plywood. These have far fewer voids and will finish up pretty nice. Lowes and other home centers will cut the plywood to the sizes you need.

View bellybuttonfunk's profile

bellybuttonfunk

8 posts in 309 days


#9 posted 02-07-2016 06:11 AM



I would not expect those drawers to hold up long with 50# in them. It is cheap knock down furniture and the bottoms are not thick enough. Don t invest any time in trying to beef them up.

You re on track thinking about building drawers out of real wood.

I would use 1/2” bottoms for that much weight.

Plenty of videos out there on building drawers and installing slides.

- rwe2156


You are correct, he bottom is bowing slightly already in the center. I just bought some 1/4 pieces of wood to brace it and will try and see if that works, if not it will be a very long process (for my carpentry skills) lol. Thanks

View bellybuttonfunk's profile

bellybuttonfunk

8 posts in 309 days


#10 posted 02-07-2016 06:17 AM



bellybuttonfunk,

Replacing drawer boxes with ones you build where you have limited tools but drawer slides that came with dresser can be done, but you would lose a little interior space. No grooves would have to be cut, no router required.

The drawer slides could be surface mounted to the drawer sides. The outside width of the drawer box would have to be reduced by the depth of the existing grooves that accept the drawer slides on the existing drawers.

The new drawer box sides would be glued and screwed to the ends of new drawer box front and back. The drawer bottom could be screwed to the bottom of the new drawer box, or set into the new drawer box and screwed in place through the new drawer box sides and front and back.

If you use ½” plywood for the drawer boxes, use red oak, maple, or birch plywood. These have far fewer voids and will finish up pretty nice. Lowes and other home centers will cut the plywood to the sizes you need.

- JBrow


Right now I will try the brace and if it still bows in the middle I will have to make my own. Something simple sounding like this “The outside width of the drawer box would have to be reduced by the depth of the existing grooves that accept the drawer slides on the existing drawers.” is something I would not think of and as simple as it sounds would drive me mad trying to do,lol. Thanks

View bellybuttonfunk's profile

bellybuttonfunk

8 posts in 309 days


#11 posted 02-07-2016 06:18 AM

I finished trimming down the 5 strips with the coping saw (compass saw a few times). My right thumb went numb (might have carpel tunnel) when using the coping saw. I also found out (while on the last piece of course) that it is easier and faster to hold the coping saw 90 degrees in a stabbing motion. Now I have the clearance I need.

For bracing the bottom I went and looked at some 1/8 metal rods but they were all too flexible. I ended up getting some 1/4×3” x 36” oak boards. Now as mentioned above will some gorilla wood glue be enough to hold the board?

I can’t see the glue holding to the underside of the drawer bottom, as it is very shiny/slippery. Not sure exactly what it is made of. So I could only glue the two ends of the board (one end goes to the drawer front and the other to the drawer back). I think I will mount depthwise, front to back as it is less distance than going right to left. The weight is holding but there is a slight bow in the middle, which if I can get the 1/4 oak strip under there, it should work.

Also I seen someone use two small L brackets and put them inside the drawer and screw through to the board on the bottom. So maybe some glue to the ends of the board on the bottom of the drawer and two L brackets just to be sure?

Any tricks to get the exact measurement I need for the cut? In past times when I had to make exact cuts I always would be off by the slightest. I guess I can make a cardboard template and go by that?

Thanks for all the help and suggestions.

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

819 posts in 387 days


#12 posted 02-07-2016 12:26 PM

bellybuttonfunk,

A description of building drawer boxes that fit well does sound easy. Trust me, and as you point out, it is much more difficult to do in practice. Making what you have work makes sense to me plus it save you time and money over rebuilding the drawer boxes.

If the particle board bottom fails, it will likely do so somewhere near the center of the drawer bottom. A crack will develop and the crack will run from front to back or side to side. The strips you cut will help reinforce the bottom and may be enough, if firmly attached to the underside of the drawer bottom. The more strips the better.

Just gluing the ends of the oak strips will create a very weak joint if glued on the ends of the oak or to a painted surface. Reinforcing the joint with angled metal will help, but this effort may also fail since the drawer bottom and the oak strip, if not fully bonded the length and width of the oak strip, will move independently and thus not be as strong as when both pieces are bonded together.

Since the particle board is shiny, applying glue to the draw bottom where the oak strips will run will also fail since I suspect the shininess you see on the particle board is probably wax or paraffin that coats the particle board to protect it from moisture. The wax must be removed before gluing.

To remove the wax, the area on the drawer bottom where the oak strip will be glued and where the wax must be removed can be marked. Then repeatedly wiping the marked area with acetone (available at the hardware store) and clean rags should remove most of the wax. Wiping the area where the oak strips will be glued at least 3 times, each time with a clean rag soaked with acetone, will remove most of the wax; but acetone washing should continue until the wax is removed. The wax is pretty much gone when the shininess is mostly gone. Alternatively, light sanding may also work.

Once the wax is removed Gorilla wood glue should work. Follow label instructions to get the best results. Also, the oak strip must be kept in firm contact with the drawer bottom until the glue is completely cured. I like to allow the glue to cure for no less than 12 hours before removing clamps, or perhaps in your case, weights that hold the two pieces firmly together. A sign that enough clamping force has been applied is when beads of glue can be seen squeezing out along the edges of the oak strips. Applying the clamping force so that the belly you mentioned straightens out will give a better bond. Therefore, if weight is used, it should be placed on the oak strip with the drawer setting upside down.

If you do not mind sending screws through the particle board and then seeing the screws inside the drawer, then 3/8” long screws, installed first through the particle board and then into the oak would provide better results than fastening the oak strips at the ends only (assuming a ¼” thick drawer bottom). Installing the screws first through the oak and then into the particle board bottom is not nearly as strong. Pre-drilling is a must to suck the oak strips tight to the drawer bottom. The screws can be installed after the glue has cured. I think I would wait until the glue as cured and then check for any gaps along the edges of the oak strips and the drawer bottom. If gaps are seen, then that suggests less than a complete bond of the oak to the particle board. In this case I would consider adding screws.

A dead accurate inside measurement can be achieved with two scraps of wood and a clamp. Each scrap of wood must be shorter than the distance being measured and, when laid end to end, the two pieces of scrap must be longer than the distance being measured. Place one end of one scrap piece against the first edge to be measured. Place the second scrap piece against the first scrap piece and slide it until it stops at the second edge to measure. At this point, the end of each scrap piece is against each of the two edges that are being measured and the two scrap pieces are in contact with each other. Make sure the ends of the two scrap pieces are at right angles with the edges being measured. Clamp the strips together. A spring clamp or masking tape will work. Carefully remove the two scrap pieces that are now clamped together and the distance from one end to the other is the exact inside measurement.

View bellybuttonfunk's profile

bellybuttonfunk

8 posts in 309 days


#13 posted 02-09-2016 04:29 AM



bellybuttonfunk,

A description of building drawer boxes that fit well does sound easy. Trust me, and as you point out, it is much more difficult to do in practice. Making what you have work makes sense to me plus it save you time and money over rebuilding the drawer boxes.

If the particle board bottom fails, it will likely do so somewhere near the center of the drawer bottom. A crack will develop and the crack will run from front to back or side to side. The strips you cut will help reinforce the bottom and may be enough, if firmly attached to the underside of the drawer bottom. The more strips the better.

Just gluing the ends of the oak strips will create a very weak joint if glued on the ends of the oak or to a painted surface. Reinforcing the joint with angled metal will help, but this effort may also fail since the drawer bottom and the oak strip, if not fully bonded the length and width of the oak strip, will move independently and thus not be as strong as when both pieces are bonded together.

Since the particle board is shiny, applying glue to the draw bottom where the oak strips will run will also fail since I suspect the shininess you see on the particle board is probably wax or paraffin that coats the particle board to protect it from moisture. The wax must be removed before gluing.

To remove the wax, the area on the drawer bottom where the oak strip will be glued and where the wax must be removed can be marked. Then repeatedly wiping the marked area with acetone (available at the hardware store) and clean rags should remove most of the wax. Wiping the area where the oak strips will be glued at least 3 times, each time with a clean rag soaked with acetone, will remove most of the wax; but acetone washing should continue until the wax is removed. The wax is pretty much gone when the shininess is mostly gone. Alternatively, light sanding may also work.

Once the wax is removed Gorilla wood glue should work. Follow label instructions to get the best results. Also, the oak strip must be kept in firm contact with the drawer bottom until the glue is completely cured. I like to allow the glue to cure for no less than 12 hours before removing clamps, or perhaps in your case, weights that hold the two pieces firmly together. A sign that enough clamping force has been applied is when beads of glue can be seen squeezing out along the edges of the oak strips. Applying the clamping force so that the belly you mentioned straightens out will give a better bond. Therefore, if weight is used, it should be placed on the oak strip with the drawer setting upside down.

If you do not mind sending screws through the particle board and then seeing the screws inside the drawer, then 3/8” long screws, installed first through the particle board and then into the oak would provide better results than fastening the oak strips at the ends only (assuming a ¼” thick drawer bottom). Installing the screws first through the oak and then into the particle board bottom is not nearly as strong. Pre-drilling is a must to suck the oak strips tight to the drawer bottom. The screws can be installed after the glue has cured. I think I would wait until the glue as cured and then check for any gaps along the edges of the oak strips and the drawer bottom. If gaps are seen, then that suggests less than a complete bond of the oak to the particle board. In this case I would consider adding screws.

A dead accurate inside measurement can be achieved with two scraps of wood and a clamp. Each scrap of wood must be shorter than the distance being measured and, when laid end to end, the two pieces of scrap must be longer than the distance being measured. Place one end of one scrap piece against the first edge to be measured. Place the second scrap piece against the first scrap piece and slide it until it stops at the second edge to measure. At this point, the end of each scrap piece is against each of the two edges that are being measured and the two scrap pieces are in contact with each other. Make sure the ends of the two scrap pieces are at right angles with the edges being measured. Clamp the strips together. A spring clamp or masking tape will work. Carefully remove the two scrap pieces that are now clamped together and the distance from one end to the other is the exact inside measurement.

- JBrow

Thanks for taking the time, very informative. I scraped rough lines in the area under the brace with a razor, gave it a gritty feel, I think it gave the glue something to stick to(if that makes sense). I do not have any acetone on hand and I think any type of liquid might make it become damp and lose any rigidity it has. So I scraped that section and then scraped the two ends of the dresser where the wood/brace ends will meet.

It has been a day and the brace seems like it is not going anywhere, it feels like if I pried it off it will rip the bottom of the drawer clear off. I’m holding off on the metal braces inside for right now as Im very happy how the glue/wood brace is holding. I loaded the drawer up and placed a flat piece of wood on top (it was flush across) and then after awhile I noticed on the left and right side of the board that I put on top there was a slight (hairline) opening under the board on the far left and right side. So the brace is holding its own. If I notice and more drop off on the side I will brace those sides too.

Now Im just concerned with the drawer slides as the company said they are only rated at 20lbs, plus they do not fully extend so I will be looking into replacing those. Right now I have the two bottom drawers in and will see how they hold up overnight. I’m pretty confident that the brace has worked.

I used your idea for finding the inside measurement using the scrap wood and two clamps. Ingenious!

Thanks everyone for all the help.

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JBrow

819 posts in 387 days


#14 posted 02-10-2016 01:41 AM

bellybuttonfunk,

Hopefully the reinforcement will last and you do not have to revisit it in the future. One last thing could be done. That is measure the deflection of the loaded draw bottom, maybe from a straight stick that sets on top of the drawer sides, spanning the width of drawer. Then, in a month re-measure and see if the deflection has changed. Doing this can be reassurance that the fix is holding or serve as an alert that additional reinforcing is needed before the draw bottom fails.

Yes, the inside measurement trick is ingenious. I wish I could take credit for it, but I picked it up somewhere along the way and just passed it along. Whoever thought of it was the genius; I wish I was that smart.

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