What is a French Bottom

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Forum topic by SouthpawCA posted 02-24-2011 06:04 AM 2811 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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270 posts in 3233 days

02-24-2011 06:04 AM

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


1731 posts in 2809 days

#1 posted 02-24-2011 06:30 AM

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

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Joe Lyddon

10100 posts in 4052 days

#2 posted 02-24-2011 06:40 AM

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:"

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10401 posts in 3648 days

#3 posted 02-24-2011 06:42 AM

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#4 posted 02-24-2011 03:59 PM

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

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10880 posts in 3115 days

#5 posted 02-24-2011 04:15 PM

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


472 posts in 2979 days

#6 posted 02-24-2011 06:00 PM

Good one Steve I agree

-- "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


10401 posts in 3648 days

#7 posted 02-24-2011 06:49 PM

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.

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2202 posts in 3158 days

#8 posted 02-24-2011 07:23 PM

I prefer Sophie Marceau for my French bottom. :)

-- jay,

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1176 posts in 2761 days

#9 posted 02-24-2011 09:25 PM

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


13528 posts in 2693 days

#10 posted 02-24-2011 10:14 PM

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

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16274 posts in 4218 days

#11 posted 02-24-2011 10:54 PM

Bardot. Best French bottom ever.

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

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151 posts in 3262 days

#12 posted 02-25-2011 01:22 AM

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.


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151 posts in 3262 days

#13 posted 02-25-2011 01:36 AM

View SouthpawCA's profile


270 posts in 3233 days

#14 posted 02-25-2011 02:40 AM

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

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18271 posts in 3676 days

#15 posted 02-25-2011 03:47 AM

Pushin 80

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

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