drawer bottom plywood or hardboard?

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Forum topic by JesseTutt posted 09-21-2012 10:05 PM 9032 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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853 posts in 1527 days

09-21-2012 10:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question drawer construction plywood hardboard

I know that a drawer bottom is usualy 1/4” plywood. I was wondering why hardboard is not used?

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

27 replies so far

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3161 days

#1 posted 09-21-2012 10:27 PM

You can use hardwood, just glue up the board so the grain runs from side to side. You’ll have to make an elongated hole, to allow for seasonal movement of the wood. Usually the bottoms are made 3/8” – 1/2” thick and the edges are tapered to about 1/4”.

View Bertha's profile


12989 posts in 2110 days

#2 posted 09-21-2012 10:34 PM

eeehhhhhh, are you talking hardboard or hardwood? If it’s hardwood, you’ve entered the realm of awesomeness. In my worthless opinion, there’s nothing that screams quality more than a solid drawer bottom (and a dust panel). I’m a drawer bottom freak and I did a French bottom on a nightstand I built. It was a huge pain in the arse but every time I open the drawer, I think, “Oh yeeeaaaahhh”. I’ll just straight up tell you that I think hardboard is just horrible. Go hardwood…be a star:)

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

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2101 days

#3 posted 09-21-2012 10:37 PM

I think hardboard is used frequently on cheaper pieces (IKEA stuff). Only major drawback I can see is you are toast if you scratch below the top paper coating and get into the sawdust layer.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 2575 days

#4 posted 09-21-2012 11:48 PM

Hardboard is actually great for this, but it’s not something you’d do on the fancy stuff. For that you’d use veneered plywood, nice Baltic birch plywood, or even hardwood…which gets Bertha really excited!

-- jay,

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 2964 days

#5 posted 09-22-2012 12:19 AM

1/4” plywood for us

-- .

View Grandpa's profile


3256 posts in 2092 days

#6 posted 09-22-2012 12:30 AM

I have actually used melamine for bottoms in vanity drawers. I like it for that. I have oak faces and 1/2” Baltic birch sides. Now for fine furniture I use playwood because solid wood is not stable and it will push the drawers apart if you fit it very tight. Dust panels? You bet!! All fine furniture has dust panels between the drawers. Would think of not using dust panels. I use 1/4 inch plywood for that.

View jumbojack's profile


1663 posts in 2041 days

#7 posted 09-22-2012 12:32 AM

I have used hardboard….eh meh, looks cheap but it functions well and you can glue it in. I use ply more often but true 1/4 is getting increasingly hard to find. Glued up hardwood and even softwood (pine)is like bertha says awesome! I got it to the 1/4” mark standing in up and running it across the TS…. worked great.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View nwbusa's profile


1017 posts in 1703 days

#8 posted 09-22-2012 12:41 AM

1/2” Baltic birch for my drawer bottoms. Yep, I overbuild.

-- John, BC, Canada

View NiteWalker's profile


2735 posts in 1994 days

#9 posted 09-22-2012 12:50 AM

1/4” baltic birch plywood is my preference.
3/8” for medium duty drawers, 1/2” for heavy duty.

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

View Grandpa's profile


3256 posts in 2092 days

#10 posted 09-22-2012 12:59 AM

nwbusa, I have a friend that is a professional contractor and at one time owned and operated a furniture factory. He was telling me about getting hurt trying to hang some upper cabinets by himself. He said he used backs in his cabinets…...3/4 inch plywood backs. I just shook my head and walked away. anything I would have said would have been ….well, not good.

View bandit571's profile (online now)


14046 posts in 2100 days

#11 posted 09-22-2012 01:05 AM

Used the hardboard once or twice. Seen too many old drawers with it. Any weight, and they will bow. Never, ever seen a flat hardboard drawer bottom. It may start flat, but will de-form quickly.

Plywood? i used 1/4” Luann all the time. Little under 1/4” thick? So is my dado set. Yep, dado set is that worn down in width. I keep the better looking pieces of Luann for items that show, the run-of-the-mill and worse go in the drawer’s bottoms. After a drawer is full of clothes, how can you tell what the bottom looks like.

Let’s see, I’ve SOLD over 130 chest-of-drawers, with an average of five drawers each. That’s a lot of bottoms….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5099 posts in 2611 days

#12 posted 09-22-2012 05:55 AM

No hardboard in my drawers…....

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

View Loren's profile


8156 posts in 3065 days

#13 posted 09-22-2012 06:07 AM

Hardboard is great stuff but its too ugly for many
cabinet applications. You can get “markerboard”
which I use for cabinet backs and it works nicely
for drawer bottoms too.

View DamnYankee's profile


3297 posts in 1979 days

#14 posted 09-22-2012 06:07 AM

Hardboard will not hold up to weight over time, particularly if the larger the drawer. Hardboard will also peal/fall apart if it gets wet.

1/4” ply or luann works better.

HardWOOD is best.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Tootles's profile


779 posts in 1919 days

#15 posted 09-22-2012 09:35 AM

I’ve just salvaged some wood from some old drawers. They had hardboard (high density fibre board) in the bottom – and apart from some stains, it is still fine. So it can be used, it is functional and quite tough, even if it is not pretty.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

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