What is a French Bottom

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by SouthpawCA posted 1248 days ago 2109 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View SouthpawCA's profile


254 posts in 1832 days

1248 days ago

I heard the term “French Bottom” used when making drawers. What is a French Bottom and how do I make this?

-- Don

26 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1282 posts in 1408 days

#1 posted 1248 days ago

Don, I am stumped, never heard that one. I ll keep an eye on this one though as now I am curious.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

7620 posts in 2651 days

#2 posted 1248 days ago

I really don’t know.. but, I will make a guess…

Bottom is solid wood say 1/2”... must fir into 1/4” groove… bottom SIDES are planed (cut) like a door panel so they will fit into the 1/4” groove.

Just a guess…

Edit: After I read the following reply & read the PDF file, , I realized that I was describing the Rounded Over Slip…
My guess was one of the styles of Slips… French Bottom is new to me… though…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Loren's profile


7235 posts in 2247 days

#3 posted 1248 days ago

View WhyDi's profile


5 posts in 1369 days

#4 posted 1248 days ago

Hi All,

This thread could be a good way of introducing myself on the forum. In short I am a hobbyist woodworker living in the EU milling wood with a European style combination machine. “French Bottom” probably refers to a traditional way of making drawers which means hand making opposed to the way I machine drawers nowadays.
The face with its two adjacent sides are stuck (1) and grooved so that accommodating a free bottom(2) sliding in the three grooves then a nailed back(3) ending at the underneath of the groove locks the bottom(4) that may easily be replaced as needed.

Best Regards

-- I Tinker With My Life Too

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 1714 days

#5 posted 1248 days ago

as I knowing a french bottom
is an exstra bottom inside were there has been traced around every single tool and cut out
so they have there own little compartment and stay in place and you can always see if one missing

but I can be wrong as usual

take care

View levan's profile


397 posts in 1578 days

#6 posted 1247 days ago

Good one Steve I agree

-- Lynn "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View Loren's profile


7235 posts in 2247 days

#7 posted 1247 days ago

A solid wood drawer bottom expands and contracts, so it should be
anchored to the front groove in some way (a nail works). The back
of the drawer is left short and doesn’t capture the botton, which
moves in and out at the back with the weather.

With plywood drawer bottoms, you can glue ‘em, nail ‘em all around -
doesn’t matter because they don’t move much at all.


View Cosmicsniper's profile


2199 posts in 1758 days

#8 posted 1247 days ago

I prefer Sophie Marceau for my French bottom. :)

-- jay,

View Planeman40's profile


456 posts in 1360 days

#9 posted 1247 days ago

I wasn’t interested in a French bottom, but I just had to read this as it sounded so risque.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Bertha's profile


12951 posts in 1292 days

#10 posted 1247 days ago

I built what a friend described as a “French bottom” in the chisel chest in my projects section (but I can’t recall if I showed a photo of the drawers). I didn’t know why he descibed it as such and to be honest, I’m not even sure if he was correct (he likes Guiness and had really been liking it when he commented). I did exactly what’s described by WhyDi above but I pinned the drawer in the rear within a longitudinally oriented slot (to allow for movement). I glued the front of the drawer bottom in the center only. So, I guess I did the exact opposite of what Loren describes. As usual, his advice is better, as I had to move the anchoring pin foreward during a shrinking season to prevent a small gap in the drawer front. Up to then (for some reason), I thought French bottom meant chamfering solid drawer bottoms to fit into the dados, a look I really admire.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View CharlieM1958's profile


15663 posts in 2817 days

#11 posted 1247 days ago

Bardot. Best French bottom ever.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View dmorrison's profile


145 posts in 1861 days

#12 posted 1247 days ago

Fine Woodworking Magazine describes it as solid wood bottom with grain running parallel to the drawer front and inserted into groves on the side frames. The article shows a diagram. The best way to describe it is a raised panel inserted into a frame, actually just the sides of the raised panel are in the “frame”. The frame is attached to the side of the inside bottom of the drawer. The front of the drawer is grooved to accept the bottom and the back lays just at the bottom of the rear drawer section.
Fine Woodworking issue #9

So how do I attach a photobucket picture so it displays as a normal size so you can see it. I tried and it was very small.


View dmorrison's profile


145 posts in 1861 days

#13 posted 1247 days ago

View SouthpawCA's profile


254 posts in 1832 days

#14 posted 1247 days ago

Pictures are worth everything! Thanks Dave, WhyDi, and of course CharlieM (how old is she now – lol) The reason I asked is because I read on WoodTreks that a french bottom can be used to conceal the dado on a drawer if not using a half blind.

I was thinking of using finger joints and actually made 2 drawers, one with the dado showing in the front and one on the side. An “Oh Crap” moment. But then tried to use something I found in Wood – Make and Mount Super-Simple Drawers. These had to have a false front which didn’t look as good for what I was doing, plus that little nub where the 2 dadoes cross broke off in on the the sides.

I’ll stick to the tried and true half blind.

-- Don

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


14590 posts in 2275 days

#15 posted 1247 days ago

Pushin 80

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

showing 1 through 15 of 26 replies

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

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics :: gardening showcase