Preferred Wood for Drawer Sides

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Forum topic by Dano posted 07-27-2007 03:44 AM 5279 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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222 posts in 4204 days

07-27-2007 03:44 AM

Although I haven’t Blogged about the entertainment center lately I have been doing enabling projects and I am ready to get back to the task at hand. Looking down the road I will need to construct 4 drawers to hold DVD and remotes etc. I was going to use metal drawer slides but the more I think about it I think I want to build everything from wood so the first question is what is your preferred wood for the drawer sides and back. I plan on using dovetail joinery on the oak fronts. Then what wood would you make the runners out of? Maple, Poplar???

-- Dan in Central Oklahoma, Able to turn good wood into saw dust in the blink of an eye!

13 replies so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4487 days

#1 posted 07-27-2007 04:13 AM

Maple or Oak

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4446 days

#2 posted 07-27-2007 04:14 AM

I agree with Dennis, Maple is the right choice….

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View Karson's profile


35139 posts in 4573 days

#3 posted 07-27-2007 05:15 AM

I heard someone say at one point in time that you should never use the same species for the drawer and the drawer slide. That the same wood species don’t work well together.

No experience on it though.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View Dano's profile


222 posts in 4204 days

#4 posted 07-28-2007 02:02 AM

Maple it is then, now the 64k dollar question. What is the difference between soft maple and hard maple? Is soft maple considerably softer and would it suffice for drawers?

-- Dan in Central Oklahoma, Able to turn good wood into saw dust in the blink of an eye!

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4169 days

#5 posted 07-28-2007 08:01 AM

Here – I’ll throw a wrench in the mix: you could use poplar, alder, white pine, birch…but maple sounds like a good choice too!

On the soft maple vs hard front, I found this and this.

Looks like soft maple is about the same hardness as cherry, twice as hard as poplar, and only 25% softer than hard maple…

Sounds like it would be a-okay for drawer sides and backs!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View dewoodwork's profile


187 posts in 4128 days

#6 posted 07-28-2007 11:46 PM

Another vote for maple.

-- Express creativity with wood, Dewayne. Vacaville CA.

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4446 days

#7 posted 07-29-2007 12:15 AM

I believe that the soft maple would work just fine for the drawer sides. I also believe that you will find it to be less expensive. At least it is here in my market..

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View Dano's profile


222 posts in 4204 days

#8 posted 07-29-2007 03:02 AM

Dorje, thanks for the links and to everyone else for the comments. I found the local shop that I buy from has soft maple for $3.50 bf. They also have poplar and red oak which I usually use. I think that I am going to use soft maple for the drawer sides. Now, I need to investigate what Karson has heard about the same type of wood rubbing together causing problems, I guess it would be like galling of metals. Has anyone any experience with this?

-- Dan in Central Oklahoma, Able to turn good wood into saw dust in the blink of an eye!

View pmulry's profile


21 posts in 4143 days

#9 posted 07-29-2007 04:57 PM

With the contents of the drawers as you described above, I wouldn’t worry too much about galling-type problems. It doesn’t sound like these drawers will be that loaded to cause much problem. You might want to run some beeswax on the drawer runners to minimize the friction and that should take care of any sticking problems that you might have. Good luck!

-- Pat Mulry, Dallas, Texas ||

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4161 days

#10 posted 07-29-2007 06:55 PM

I have always used oak for drawer sides and runners. But that’s just me.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4334 days

#11 posted 07-29-2007 06:58 PM

I guess it depends on what type of slide or support you are going to build, and how tight the tolerances will be. I would think using the same woods would be ok, if there is enough space to allow for the wood movement. It seems a lot of people use poplar in these situations, since it will save money and not be seen. They save the maple for the drawer front, table, etc.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Jimster's profile


2 posts in 4127 days

#12 posted 07-29-2007 10:28 PM

The Jimster prefers 1/2” baltic (russian) birch plywood. It is a nine-ply, extremely stable and warp-free material that is perfectly suitable for drawer sides.

The Corner Cabinet
The Conference Table

View Dano's profile


222 posts in 4204 days

#13 posted 07-30-2007 04:27 AM

Jimster, I have a full sheet of Baltic birch sitting in the workshop (garage) but was having second thoughts because I want to try my new Porter Cable dovetail jig out and from what I have read it splinters quit a bit. Any one have any experience with it? I was also thinking about backing it for machining with quarter inch hardboard to see if it would keep the plywood from splintering.

-- Dan in Central Oklahoma, Able to turn good wood into saw dust in the blink of an eye!

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