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drawer bottom plywood or hardboard?

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Forum topic by JesseTutt posted 09-21-2012 10:05 PM 4551 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JesseTutt

811 posts in 863 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

tenontim

2131 posts in 2497 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

Bertha

12951 posts in 1446 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

teejk

1215 posts in 1437 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

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1911 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, www.allaboutastro.com

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Jerry

2252 posts in 2299 days


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

1/4” plywood for us

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3211 posts in 1428 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

jumbojack

1221 posts in 1377 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

nwbusa

1017 posts in 1039 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

NiteWalker

2710 posts in 1329 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

Grandpa

3211 posts in 1428 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

bandit571

7519 posts in 1436 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

3613 posts in 1947 days


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

No hardboard in my drawers…....

-- " I started with nothing, and I've still got most of it left".......

View Loren's profile

Loren

7826 posts in 2400 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.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View DamnYankee's profile

DamnYankee

3240 posts in 1315 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

Tootles

719 posts in 1254 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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