How should shallow toolbox drawers attach the bottoms?

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Forum topic by HandToolGuy posted 10-02-2010 09:02 AM 1490 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 2213 days

10-02-2010 09:02 AM

I’m designing a toolbox for my fine hand tools and have decided on a concept based on looking at many examples of toolboxes and chests. Now my problem is figuring out how to design the smallest/shallowest drawers.

I’m incorporating the drawers from Bill Morris’s toolchest as depicted in several books with the plane tray from Christian Becksvoorts tool cabinet and other ideas. The shallow drawers are really shallow, and all drawers will be inset, no false fronts. There will also be no full extension slides. The drawers will have about a 1/32nd reveal and a small swivel tab on the back accidental pull-outs.

I’m thinking that if I install the bottoms in grooves I’ll waste a lot of valuable vertical space in the drawer. On the other hand, if I use brads to fasten the drawer bottoms to the sides, I’m worried that the bottoms may fail at some point. I plan to French-fit quite a few of my fine layout tools, wing dividers, calipers, micrometer, etc.

I’d love to have have feedback from anyone who’s done this before… no sense reinventing the wheel after all!



-- HandToolGuy

6 replies so far

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 3444 days

#1 posted 10-02-2010 02:01 PM

I haven’t tried it, but what about this: Rabbet the sides to the depth of the bottom panel, and then brad nail through the SIDES into the edge of the the bottom. Either that or angle the brads from the bottom as in:

\ / \ / This might help prevent pullout.

Been thinking about a similar project myself, and its good to think these things through in advance.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

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388 posts in 2454 days

#2 posted 10-02-2010 02:11 PM

use glue if plywood bottom is used

View snowdog's profile


1158 posts in 3402 days

#3 posted 10-02-2010 02:18 PM

Looking forward to seeing the finished product.

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View a1Jim's profile


115172 posts in 2997 days

#4 posted 10-02-2010 02:21 PM

Most drawers have a groove cut into the sides and fronts and backs to capture the bottom. in small drawers you may have to reduce the thickness of the bottoms to use this approach. It all depends on the weight that’s going to be put into the drawers. If you still need thinner drawer bottoms you can glue some support strips below the draw bottom to increase the amount of weight the drawer can hold.

-- Custom furniture

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2310 posts in 2416 days

#5 posted 10-02-2010 04:50 PM

Look at the drawer bottoms of real old writing desks. The little drawers that sit in pigeon holes are flush at bottom. The sides of drawers have dado ‘to accept the drawer bottom. I am “assuming ” that your drawers are not going to be very wide. Before the invention of drawer hardware, the idea of having a raise bottom was to add strength to bottom falling down as well as ease of pulling drawers in and out. The entire “Bottom” didn’t touch, only the side rails that were usually 1/4” lower (less friction). With this said, I am confident you will be able to make little drawers with flush bottoms, utilizing more space in tool cabinet. This is “one time” you will glue the drawer bottoms ! Look at how “Gerstner” builds their tool chests also ?
I built my top of roll cabinet 34 years ago. My little drawers are done this way. Bottoms haven’t let loose for me yet !The bottoms of mine are 1/8 real wood mahogany panel. To get strength of wider drawers I glued my tool partitions in place and nailed bottoms from underneath to these supports.To ease the drawer pulling out I have mine riding on 1/2 supports, dadoed into sides of cabinet. The drawer only contacts maybe 3/4” on each side.(Candle waxed)

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

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2 posts in 2213 days

#6 posted 10-03-2010 02:57 AM

Wow! Thanks everyone for all the great advice! Can’t think why I didn’t join this forum sooner. I think I’ll incorporate at least 3 ideas you all gave me and build a prototype out of poplar scrap. I’m leaning toward 1/8th birch plywood bottoms glued into a 3/16ths dado all round. I could try the brad idea too, but I’m afraid with stock that thin it would split even with 23 ga headless pins (though I do need an excuse to buy a headless pinner, hand tool guy tho I be… I not above stealing ideas from Norm!

Thanks again guys!

-- HandToolGuy

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