LumberJocks

Joinery for plywood drawer boxes.

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by dbhost posted 793 days ago 10688 views 3 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1857 days


793 days ago

I have a few shop projects that I need to build drawers for, and I honestly do not want to spend a ton of money on them, so I am thinking plywood for the drawer boxes. But that begs the question of what to do for joinery on these boxes.

While I know it is theoretically possible, is it a good idea to dovetail the joints here? I just cringe when I think of dovetailing plywood visioning blowing out tons of material and coming out with lousy joints. The other thought is to use locking rabbets, which is great to resist pulling forces, but lousy for sideways / torsional forces…

These drawer boxes need to support a fair amount of weight as they will be for tool related cabinetry, specifically a drill press stand cabinet that will house all my bits, of many various shapes, sizes and formats… I have other related projects in the queue that will be a while, but I will likely be using the same techniques for building them. They are….

#1. Full cabinet base filled with drawers for a workbench base. #2. Full cabinet base / workstation for my Ryobi BT3100 table saw / wide table kit. I will include a router wing in this… #3. Second full cabinet / drawer setup for misc shop storage including supplies. This is to replace my Strong Tie workbench and Rubbermaid totes. #4. Lathe stand cabinet.

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com


20 replies so far

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1016 posts in 911 days


#1 posted 793 days ago

I’d use a reinforced rabbet joint, myself.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3402 posts in 2585 days


#2 posted 793 days ago

A well setup lock miter is a pretty darned strong joint when properly glued.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View JBfromMN's profile

JBfromMN

107 posts in 1401 days


#3 posted 793 days ago

I have my Drill press on a cart with a couple drawers on it myself. One drawer for drill bits and one for driver bits. Both use locking rabbit joints with 1/2 prefinished plywood. If I can remember, I will take a pic tonight and post it tomorrow.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1418 posts in 986 days


#4 posted 793 days ago

1/2” BC ply with glued and nailed/screwed butt joints is all that’s needed. Mine is 16 feet wide.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1857 days


#5 posted 793 days ago

Clint, you are on to the right idea, but I have no space to work that big. Subtract 10 feet from that sucker and you’d have the cabinet / bench I want along the wall, subtract 2 more feet and you’d have the base for my workbench…

Screwed / glued butt joints is something I was hoping to avoid. However, yes, 1/2” BC ply is on the materials list…

Your drawer fronts look like they were cut from 2 full sheets of plywood. Very interesting look, I like it…

The locking rabbet sounds like what I was thinking. I just wasn’t sure it would be strong enough…

What are you guys using for drawer bottoms? I am thinking keeping with the motif and going with 1/2” BC ply bottoms as well…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View Granddaddy1's profile

Granddaddy1

181 posts in 826 days


#6 posted 793 days ago

The drawer lock joint will probably work, but my first choice for plywood drawer box construction is box joints. It’s almost as strong as dovetails without the blowout problems. I’ve built several projects this way, with the biggest being a bedroom set with 32 drawers. I set it all up and cut the box joints in one session.

As for the drawer bottoms, that depends on the size of the drawers and amount of weight to be stored inside. I would think the norm would be 1/4” plywood. If the drawer is larger than normal, or will carry a heavy load, go with the 1/2” material.

Good luck!

-- Ron Wilson - maker of fine firewood!

View Loren's profile

Loren

7389 posts in 2273 days


#7 posted 793 days ago

I rabbet and nail them. Edgeband before rabbeting.

I have a drawer lock cutter that I’ve used sometimes
but it chews up a veneer edgeband so I use the
rabbet usually.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1008 posts in 911 days


#8 posted 793 days ago

If it’s just for a work bench, pocket holes and glue. I have test pieces in my shop that I JUST pocket screwed together and also that I pocket screwed and glued. They’re amazingly strong. I wouldn’t use them on furniture or cabinets for others like a kitchen or something…. ok maybe a kitchen…. but for my workbench? Pocket holes and glue and move on to something more important :)

View Kookaburra's profile

Kookaburra

746 posts in 849 days


#9 posted 793 days ago

LOL Jonathan – a join can never be too strong!

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1470 posts in 2750 days


#10 posted 793 days ago

I tried dovetailing ApplePly for our kitchen drawers, and got major blow-outs. Tried taping, backer boards, just couldn’t make it work.

Eventually settled on Dominos to do loose tenons for the joints, but biscuits would probably work equally well. Although as others here are pushing, box joints or rabbets should be fine. Especially: You’re using plywood so you don’t have to worry (much) about humidity changes: you could glue in plywood drawer bottoms, back up your edge joints with pin nails, and they’ll be close to indestructible anyway.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1857 days


#11 posted 793 days ago

Yeah, Dominos aren’t going to happen in my budget unless Harbor Freight starts selling Lamello tools…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2709 posts in 1202 days


#12 posted 793 days ago

Tongue and dado.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View LeeInAZ's profile

LeeInAZ

37 posts in 1100 days


#13 posted 793 days ago

I built all my shop drawer boxes from 1/2” baltic birch with mostly 1/4” bottoms. I used pocket hole screws on the drawer frame and just glue and staples holding the bottoms on. It is fast, easy, and solid.

-- Lee - Phoenix, AZ

View reggiek's profile

reggiek

2240 posts in 1895 days


#14 posted 793 days ago

I like the drawer lock bit, mitre lock bit or finger/glue bits for quick drawer assemblies. Either of those bits can make a real strong, quick join. Dovetails both through and half blinds are great too, but a bit more time consuming.

Biscuits work great for these also. I have used a slot cutter and some bisquit stock to put a few drawers together for a planting table someone wanted built. They worked great and are still holding up after 5 years in place.

My favorite is using Finger joints made on a router using a finger joint bit. These are really quick and really strong for this type of application. The setup is easy and the bits don’t cost an arm and a leg, but they get the job done with a pretty strong join.

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

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10717 posts in 1315 days


#15 posted 793 days ago

I use box joints for 90% of my drawers. Ply does tend to tear out when cutting box joints without a backer board. For the record box joints were stronger then dovetails when Wood Mag tested joinery methods. I use 1/4” ply for the bottoms but put a stiffener under it if it is a really big drawer or one that holds heavy items. I have some shop drawers with 3/8” cardboard bottoms as an experiment. They are very stout and held up well.

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

showing 1 through 15 of 20 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

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase