first time drawer building

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Forum topic by RinnyTin posted 06-28-2011 06:24 PM 2665 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RinnyTin's profile


39 posts in 2557 days

06-28-2011 06:24 PM

I’m looking to build drawers for my new assembly table, and seeking advice. I have never build drawers, and I do not have a table saw, router table, or dovetail jig. Aesthetics not a priority.

It’s a 4’x4’ top, set on 2”x4” framing. I want two sets of drawers, cavities for the drawer sets are each around 22”x22”x22”. Will hold measuring tools, sanding stuff, jig saw, router stuff, hand tools, nothing too heavy. Shop in an uninsulated garage.

My questions are:
What drawer heights do you find most practical?
If I make the drawer boxes out of 3/4 birch ply with glued and screwed butt joints, will that be OK? Would rabbets make them stronger?
is 3/16 hardboard OK for the bottoms? Would you support it with something underneath?
I would like full extension slides, but there are so many options and prices. Was thinking these would be right:

but would welcome advice. I’m assuming I can just hang the slides on the framing?

Thanks in advance!

6 replies so far

View JSilverman's profile


89 posts in 2611 days

#1 posted 06-29-2011 09:59 PM

Rinny Tin

so, as I read it your questions focus on practical, easy solutions rather than a purist/craftsman approach- so I will give my opinions in that vein… ignore if I am off base.

butt joints: not pretty but perfectly fine for the situation you describe- easy and quick to build no real fuss or skills involved…the opposite end of the spectrum would be to dovetail them – many options between as you mentioned rabbet, is one.
I would not us hardboard for drawer bottoms since they may sag with any appreciable weight – given that these drawers are for tools- ok for smaller drawers but larger ones either use beefier material or support the bottom.
3/4 ply is overkill for drawer sides, though it is certainly fine… if available you may consider 1/2 in ply- for the bottoms too.
full extension glides are very handy in this situation. I don’t know the ones you referred to but are probably fine- they all have weight ratings so match that to the proposed contents- hand tool drawers = lighter duty glides vs router/circular saw/jig saw drawer = heavier duty glides.
how you attach the glides all depends on how you design the cabinet- to the frame certainly is an option if they fit.


View RinnyTin's profile


39 posts in 2557 days

#2 posted 06-29-2011 10:07 PM

@ Jeff thanks for your input. I have a lot of 3/4 birch ply left over from a bunch of built ins so I figured I’d use it up, storage is limited. ditto on the hardboard, I have a lot of offcuts lying around, maybe just run a 1×2 underneath? 80lbs should be more than adequate per drawer, so i’ll give those slides a whirl. thanks for your input!

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3559 days

#3 posted 06-29-2011 10:13 PM

Concur with Jeff regarding 3/4 inch ply and drawer slides. 3/4 plywood besides being an overkill also looks clunky IOP for these types of drawers.

I’ve never had a problem using hardboard for light duty drawers (<50 lb), but I usually use 1/4 inch plywood just in case.

-- Joe

View Richard's profile


297 posts in 2535 days

#4 posted 06-29-2011 10:23 PM

Hi, ‘RinnyTin’,
I have never cut a dovetail in my entire put together.
I used run of the mill, plain old 1/2 plywood and built a box to hold bit and pieces from my bonsai work.
I cut the corners at a 45… cut 2×2s into a 45* triangle… and screwed straight through from the outside in on all corners. The undercarrige and wheels from an old, kid’s wagon and I was very good to go.
Yes, this may be overkill for your project but, done on a smaller scale? Maybe?
Just saying…
BTW… used that wagon/cart for 11 hard working years.

-- 'I sand, therefore, I am'. Richard. PNW.

View RinnyTin's profile


39 posts in 2557 days

#5 posted 06-30-2011 05:51 PM

You know what I do have a sheet of 1/2 ply I’ll cut that up for the drawer boxes and use the 3/4 birch ply for the fronts. I think I’ll go with the hardboard for the shallow drawers and beef up the lower deeper ones with ply in the bottoms. thanks guys for the input

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2688 days

#6 posted 07-05-2011 04:57 AM

CR1 nailed it. The corner blocks will really stouten up your butt joints. I have done these often and use Titebond glue and finish nails instead of screws. I use dry erase board a lot for drawer bottoms as it really makes the inside of the drawer much lighter. Almost like putting a light in the drawer.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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