Drawer joining bits

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Forum topic by Betsy posted 12-04-2007 08:16 PM 2426 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3391 posts in 3889 days

12-04-2007 08:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: box joining bits router bit

Despite all of my small projects I’ve posted so far, I really can do some big stuff! I’ve been mulling over for about a year now the type of end tables and coffee table I want in my living room. The stuff I have now is just plain nasty.

All the tables will have drawers. This will be a good time to practice dovetails, but I was wondering what you all thought about the box joint bits in Shopnotes this month. Here is a link to their on-line video about it.

My question is – it seems as though there is no need for a mechanical fastener of any sort. They don’t mention any and I’m assuming that with how the joint locks together and the amount of glue surface that a mechanical fastener is not necessary.

Have any of you used these bits? If so, what is your impression?

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

9 replies so far

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3933 days

#1 posted 12-04-2007 09:17 PM

I have the bit demonstrated in the video, and also a similar bit with a mitered profile. I’ve found that once the set up is done the cuts work quite well. They do make for a nice fit when done right.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3868 days

#2 posted 12-04-2007 09:28 PM

I use this kind of bit to make drawers and boxes sometimes. You are correct that the joint is just glued.

It makes a decent joint when you need a box quickly, but because there is no vertical alignment like there is with dovetails or box joints, it can be hard to get the parts to line up and then the groove for the drawer bottom may not line up. Also, the joints have a weak point that can break off if you aren’t careful
Drawer Joint Weak Spot
I find that it is most likely to break when disassembling the drawer after a dry fit.

Personal opinion: for quick drawers or boxes in the shop, this is an okay joint, but I’d recommend against it for furniture.

-- -- --

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 3906 days

#3 posted 12-04-2007 09:33 PM


I did not have the opportunity to watch the video, but I think that this is one of the stepped drawer box bits. If so, I have used one before and the results were OK. There is no need for any additional mechanical fasteners because there are both end grain and long grain surfaces in the joint, which are quite strong once glued up.

If you have very flat stock and a way to move it past the cutter in a very controlled manner it will work well. However, as is sometimes the case with thinner stock for drawers if there is any cup it can cause problems. Because you have to run the piece on it’s end for part of the operation you must be very controlled or you can get a bit of an inconsistent cut. Once I got the hang of this part of the operation (along with the use of a pusher piece) the results were good. The thing that ws harder to overcome was any cup in the piece which also caused an inconsistent cut. It was very hard to force the cup out of a piece while it was balanced on it’s end and being pushed along the fence in a controlled manner!

So, in the end I guess I had somewhat mixed results. You could pick one up and give it a try. However, this joint is no dovetail or box-joint substitute.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3868 days

#4 posted 12-04-2007 09:49 PM

I looked into those last year. I asked as many people as I could (although I didn’t know about LJ’s yet). From what I gathered, for me the cost was not worth it after I realized how much set up was involved. I thought it would be nice for box construction. I suppose it is better suited for production work. Your project would last longer with some sort of dovetail, and they are more decorative anyway.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3889 days

#5 posted 12-05-2007 02:19 AM

Thanks guys. I was thinking that the material would have to be dead on accurate for these to work. I think I’m going to stick with doing dovetails or finger joints for my drawers and put the money I may have spent on these bits into good lumber.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3956 days

#6 posted 12-05-2007 04:18 AM

good idea, Betsy. I got one in a set and have never gotten it to work right. I even used John Lucas’ method to set it up and it still wouldn’t do it. Maybe I’m just not smart enough. I have used table saw made lock rabbits that worked very well. They are similar but easier to set up.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3889 days

#7 posted 12-05-2007 04:58 AM

Thanks Tom. Of course there is the pocket holes/screw method of making drawers. So many options!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View edp's profile


109 posts in 3954 days

#8 posted 12-05-2007 09:34 AM

I use the drawer lock router bit for all my boxes and I am very happy with the results. I would steer away from the miter lock bits though as they can be quite fussy. I use my drawer lock so much that it stays permanently fixed in it’s router to eliminate setup time. When cut correctly, the joint is attractive and really quite strong in addition to being self squaring. Something that may be helping me is that I construct all my drawers from ½” Baltic Birch plywood which is very uniform in thickness throughout the sheet as well as from sheet to sheet. When cut it remains flat and machines well. Note that high quality BB Ply comes in 60” x 60” sheets, not 4’ x 8’ that some call BB Ply. As to difficulty in getting the dado for the bottom panel to line up, that is not the fault of the router bit. I find assembling properly prepared components a breeze. After all the parts have their inside sanded, lay a side panel down. Apply glue to the dado and the end joints. Insert the bottom panel. Apply glue to the bottom dado on the end panels, glue the end joints and connect them to the side on the bench. Apply glue to the bottom dado in the final side, glue the end joints and finish teh assembly. Apply a little clamp pressure from side to side and shoot a few brads through the front and back to hold everything in place until the glue cures.


-- Come on in, the beer is cold and the wood is dry.

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3889 days

#9 posted 12-05-2007 09:02 PM

Thanks Ed. My question to you now is do you make any drawers out of solid wood and how does the bit react to that? How have you fixed the problems, etc. This bit set really intrigues me, but my pocket book wants to be sure before it gets opened up.

When I do plywood boxes I do use the good ply. My project that I want to do, I would like to have solid wood sides on my drawers. I plan to use walnut ply for the bottoms – or I may veneer it that’s to be decided. I’m still leaning toward another joint option. But I’m open to more opinions on this.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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