Help!!! with loosening old kitchen drawer fronts.

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Craftsman on the lake posted 03-21-2010 01:15 PM 14218 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2790 posts in 3436 days

03-21-2010 01:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: drawers raised panel question help

Ok. My sister wanted her old oak kitchen cabinets redone. They were once hand made long ago; about 30 years. We removed the doors and sanded all the face. I’m almost making new doors. The old ones were of a questionable style and coated with a thick varnish that was very dark. I made new ones, and there were a bunch of them about 25, and they are all Red oak raised panel/rail and stile. That has all gone very nicely.

The question. She has good drawers. They are solid hardwood dovetailed boxes with an oak front. I need to remake all the fronts. After removing the handles I find that it seems the fronts are glued on. No screws. I’ve tapped with hammers and prodded with pry bars as much as I’d feel safe to not disturb these nicely made dovetailed boxes behind the drawer front. They just won’t come loose.

Does anyone have any experience with this dilemma and found or at least recommend a trade secret that allows these fronts to come loose?


-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

7 replies so far

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3892 days

#1 posted 03-21-2010 02:12 PM

band saw them off…..........clean them up with a hand plane

you could use a TS and cut as deep as possible on all sides, then cut them off with a band saw or hand saw?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3199 days

#2 posted 03-21-2010 02:17 PM

Yep, Like Moron said, Build a jig for the box to ride on, then bandsaw the fronts off. Probably would be the fastest.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3129 days

#3 posted 03-21-2010 02:47 PM

If you do bandsaw them, don’t be surprised if you find some hidden nails in there.

-- Gerry,

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4399 days

#4 posted 03-21-2010 02:53 PM

I was going with bandsaw also.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2790 posts in 3436 days

#5 posted 03-21-2010 10:20 PM

Thanks. It looks like sawing them of is it. I had realized that this would be a solution. I just wondered if anyone know of some nice little method of releasing them.
Much appreciated to those who responded.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3142 days

#6 posted 03-21-2010 10:25 PM

This is just a guess, but a little heat and steam might loosen the glue enough for a pry bar to work. You would know quickly it it doesn’t, then bandsaw them.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


706 posts in 3272 days

#7 posted 03-22-2010 12:16 AM

I agree with Nailbanger. Seems like they may have been made in the era of hide glue.

If that doesn’t work, here’s another method that may work a little easier in avoiding the nail issue with a band saw.

First, using a flush trimming bit (bearing on the end of the bit) route off the overhang on all four edges.

Next, on your table saw, set up the fence to just remove the false front. Then remove them. You may have to flip the drawer over and make another pass. If you have draws that are more than twice the max height of your table saw blade, make a pass on all four sides with the table saw, then use the band saw to remove what the table saw blade cannot reach.

Good luck! Work safe!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

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