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Rabbet vs. biscuit for birch ply drawer boxes

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Forum topic by tooold posted 06-07-2011 11:27 AM 9377 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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tooold

56 posts in 3154 days


06-07-2011 11:27 AM

Topic tags/keywords: rabbet biscuit drawer box

I’ve searched on this, but can’t find the answer.

I’m building about 30 drawer boxes out of 15mm birch ply for a kitchen/pantry/bathroom project. Previously, I’ve used biscuit joints for drawer boxes, but with 18mm stock. With 15mm, though, you have to shim the stock while cutting the biscuit slots to keep them centered, as the Lamello seems like it’s made for 18mm stock – I’ve got the shim set up so that it works OK, but it’s still a bit of a kludge. Plus, it’s a butt joint, which looks OK – you could say that looking at the side of the birch ply isn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but sanded and varnished, I kind of like it.

I saw my sister’s new kitchen recently. Her cabinetmakers used a rabbet joint, which looks nicer from the top. However, it seems like it would be weaker than the biscuits, as it only has the glue line, plus whatever nails I could put in.

Using a lock rabbet joint would be nice, but they’re hard to find, especially over here in France.

Any thoughts? Thanks!


17 replies so far

View Brandon's profile

Brandon

4151 posts in 2418 days


#1 posted 06-07-2011 01:22 PM

I usually use a double rabbet joint for my plywood drawers. They’re a little bit stronger than traditional rabbets but also fairly easy to cut on the router. I just use wood glue (Titebond III) and they seem very strong to me.

See the diagram of a double rabbet on this page: http://www.azwoodman.com/box-joints.html

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

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tooold

56 posts in 3154 days


#2 posted 06-07-2011 01:51 PM

Thanks, Brandon, a double-rabbet is what I was talking about – just didn’t know any better! Do you use nails as well as glue?

Myles

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

8262 posts in 2896 days


#3 posted 06-07-2011 02:31 PM

Here’s a method from Wood Magazine. I’ve used it quite successfully for many drawers.

Super simple drawer joints...Strong, too.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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crank49

3981 posts in 2438 days


#4 posted 06-07-2011 02:45 PM

The joint Gene suggested is what I have used. I call that a lock rabbit joint, by the way. It is easy to make and works well. I don’t use nails for this; just Titebond III.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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tooold

56 posts in 3154 days


#5 posted 06-07-2011 03:06 PM

The lock rabbet looks pretty cool – what I wouldn’t give for a dado blade… but they’re illegal over here, believe it or not. Plus, my saw is German and has electric brakes, so I think that doesn’t work, either. If anyone knows of a dado blade that will fit a Scheppach 4010, let me know!

It could be done on a router, though, so I’ll give that a shot. But so much easier on a saw!

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crank49

3981 posts in 2438 days


#6 posted 06-07-2011 04:42 PM

I make the lock rabbit with a regular blade on my miter sled where I can clamp on a stop. Takes 3 or 4 passes; depending on material thickness.
Is your saw a slider? That should make it even easier.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View Loren's profile

Loren

8314 posts in 3115 days


#7 posted 06-07-2011 06:07 PM

I use rabbets in 1/2” pre-finished maple ply on kitchen boxes. I edge
band first, then cut the rabbets in front and back. With modern
glue and a brad every inch or so it looks good, goes together
quick, isn’t too heavy, and so on.

I’ve tried drawer-lock bits. They are a bit of a fuss to setup and
I’m not persuaded they are stronger. Also, when the edge-band
is done first, the drawer lock cutter tears it up sometimes. The
drawer lock joints do look kind of cool and have a little more
gluing area compared with the rabbet.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

8262 posts in 2896 days


#8 posted 06-07-2011 06:48 PM

Tooold,
I use a router in a table and it works great. No fuss at all.
Crank49’s method works well, too. Although for 30X4X (?) cuts, it might get a little tedious.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View reggiek's profile

reggiek

2240 posts in 2737 days


#9 posted 06-07-2011 08:17 PM

I do not know what is available in France….but I use a drawer lock bit from MLCS (available online from MLCS.com and through Amazon). I built a horizontal router table for doing the vertical cut (the bit requires a backer if you run the wood through it vertical (also you need a high fence). These joints are very strong and easy once the bit is setup (MLCS and most of your other Mfg sell a setup block that really helps). As soon as you are satisfied with the setup…you can run all your wood through the bit…and then assemble…I only use glue on mine….occasionally I will use a piner to hold the joint steady while I clamp (especially when I am joining full wood panels as they will move alot compared to plywood.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

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tooold

56 posts in 3154 days


#10 posted 06-07-2011 10:38 PM

Thanks for all the replies – they’re very helpful. The range of available router bits over here is much smaller than in the States, unfortunately (as it is with pretty much all woodworking tools), especially with 1/2” shanks, and the MLCS bit is US only. This is about the only one I’ve been able to find, and it’s a bit more elaborate than I’d like in terms of the joint it makes. I’ll give the lock rabbet a try on my router table.

View DLCW's profile

DLCW

530 posts in 2121 days


#11 posted 06-09-2011 05:29 AM

Here is a simple joint I use a lot for drawer boxes. The whole thing can be done with a table saw and a combination blade. The dado in the drawer side is .25” x .25”. Cut this first. Then cut the tenon on the front to fit the dado. Sneak up a little at a time and it should fit very well. If you don’t have a nailer, you can simply clamp this up and wait for the glue to dry. If you have a nailer, you can use the pins as your clamps.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - http://www.dlwoodworks.com - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

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tooold

56 posts in 3154 days


#12 posted 06-09-2011 07:55 AM

That’s the lock rabbet that’s come up several times. The only problem with doing it on a table saw without a dado blade is that it’s very time consuming, which, given the number of drawers I need to do, is a drawback.

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tooold

56 posts in 3154 days


#13 posted 06-21-2011 01:11 PM

Don, thanks for your excellent diagram. I’m going to try doing this with a slot cutter and a rabbet bit on the router table, and see how it comes out.

View GregD's profile

GregD

783 posts in 2603 days


#14 posted 06-21-2011 02:05 PM

I used a lock miter bit in my router table for the 1/2” plywood drawer boxes in my last shop cabinet. Setup is a bit of a bother, but milling the joints is relatively quick and painless. Glue-up was easy also.

-- Greg D.

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1061 posts in 1998 days


#15 posted 06-22-2011 08:52 AM

Toold,

I looked on the Rutlands site you posted, and they do have a drawer lock bit for sale here in case you wanted to try it.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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