Drawer sides growth rings in or out?

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Forum topic by rwe2156 posted 03-22-2017 01:00 PM 737 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3171 posts in 1682 days

03-22-2017 01:00 PM

I learned to have the growth rings out (outside of tree/outside of drawer) so the top of the DT stays tight.

But on a recent dresser project I had issues with a deep drawer wanting to bind and discovered every so so slight cupping just enough to cause a slight bind. Actually after I moved the piece into the house within a couple days the wood acclimated enough to fix itself.

So I had a thought—construct deep drawers in such a way the that sides would be slightly inset. This could be done by simply planing the sides down a bit and install very narrow side runner strips.

1. How do you all do them (anyone suggesting 1/4 sawn wood please refrain :-)

2. What do you think of my idea

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

6 replies so far

View Markmh1's profile


92 posts in 645 days

#1 posted 03-22-2017 03:14 PM

I have been taught to have the cup of the ring facing out.

This may just be an old wives tale originated by woodworkers while they did their wash.


View dday's profile


168 posts in 1631 days

#2 posted 03-22-2017 04:37 PM

So in your suggestion, with the runners, the drawers will shrink in and at worse, will be a little loose instead of binding correct?

Sounds reasonable. I just use plywood for drawer boxes and don’t worry about it.

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3171 posts in 1682 days

#3 posted 03-22-2017 05:46 PM


Its to counteract cupping, not shrinking.

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

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12431 posts in 2582 days

#4 posted 03-22-2017 06:45 PM

If I understand what you’re saying, it isn’t something I would do and I have never seen it. It isn’t clear to me how this will prevent cupping and if it does cup, you’ll still have to plane it. If it’s just one drawer it could be anomaly and I wouldn’t worry much. If it keeps happening then you may need a different finish that is a better vapor barrier or take a closer look at your lumber supplier.

Feel free to ignore the following but …
I was taught bark side in. Reasoning, wood tries to flatten the smile so the center of the the drawer side will curve out and can be planed flat again. Also it’s easier for joinery to resist only the center cupping than to resist the corners. BUT, I have never paid any attention to that and none of my drawer sides have cupped (but we’re only talking a couple dozen over the years). Same theory applies to decks, bark side down, so the wood cups up and moisture runs off. But in practice, wood movement isn’t that simple. Those theories only apply to wet flatsawn wood. If it’s rift sawn, quartersawn, a mixture, or dry; it will move differently. So in the end I think you read the wood, or do as I do and not worry about it. :) One thing I learned never to do again is apply linseed oil to moving drawer parts, or wear parts; over time (10-15 years) it becomes tacky and makes the drawer sticky.

-- Rick M,

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21771 posts in 2885 days

#5 posted 03-22-2017 06:54 PM

The only thing I look at/for is knots. That seems to be the cause of any trouble I have with drawers. I try to get as clear grained wood as I can.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Markmh1's profile


92 posts in 645 days

#6 posted 03-24-2017 12:05 AM

Just to clarify, having the inside of the tree facing out will not minimize shrink or cupping. Supposedly it is to have the dovetails pull tighter during wood movement.

I’ve tried not to overthink this. For me, it’s just as easy to face the center of the board outward as not.


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