Building simple cabinet drawers.

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  • Building simple cabinet drawers.

    I added some drawers to my latest router table and another cabinet and figured I would document the steps here as there has been interest in 'progress projects' lately.


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    There were 5 drawers to build, 4 for the router cabinet (2 at 3-3/4" tall, 2 at 6-1/4" tall) and 1 for a one-off cabinet being made, so -- starting out with the pieces:
    5 drawers to make,
    1 @ 3-3/4T x 22D x 7-1/4W,
    2 @ 3-3/4T x 22D x 20W and
    2 @ 6-1/4T x 22D x 20W.

    Note that the 3-3/4" and 6-1/4" drawer heights are based on how my dovetail jig is set up, these two measurements give even pin/tail reveals on both top and bottom of the dovetailed drawer corner. Your dovetail jig may well produce different results -- height of the drawer sides just need to be adjusted appropriately.

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    Dovetail cuts were then made, the method I use is to dovetail the two 'front' corners. A dado is used to hold the back in place. So the two sides and the front are cut on the dovetail jig.

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    Once all the dovetails are cut, a quick dry-fit is made to ensure the pieces fit together with a relatively close match between the tops/bottoms of each corner joint. The pieces are then marked along the edge that will get dado'ed for the drawer bottom. It is especially important to ensure a good flush fit on bottom edge of the side and front drawer corners. If not, when the dado is cut for the drawer bottom it may be out of line and the drawer bottom may not be able to slide into the dado cut in the drawer front due to the dado's not lining up properly.

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    After setting up the dado blade to cut the 1/4" wide x 1/4" deep dado's in the drawer front and sides, the depth is set simply by using a piece of 1/4" masonite. I use a 'wobble' dado blade for this step simply by personal preference and set-up time. Other methods (i.e. stacked dado, router bit, multiple cuts with standard kerf blade, etc) no problem, just try to get a good fit for the bottom into this dado cut into the sides.

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    After cutting the dado for the drawer bottom, check for a not-too-snug fit. Just don't want it sloppy. If it is too snug, it will be a pita to slide into place later. If the fit does turn out too snug later when you are putting the drawer bottoms in place, sanding the bottom where it fits into the dado will help.

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    Once the dado width of cut has been set, line up the dado to cut pretty much through the center of one of the tails. Kind of general in nature, cut it where you want, just be sure to leave enough stock under the dado to support the drawer bottom after it is loaded down. I am using Baltic Birch plywood, so a good amount has to be left so the lamination in the plywood doesn't tear out with weight in the drawer.

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    Dado's for the front and sides have been done.

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    Now set up to cut the dado for the back of the drawer, same situation -- just a bit snug. The dado for the back will be set for the 1/2" Baltic Birch. In the picture above I am checking the fit after cutting a dado in a piece of scrap.

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    Set up to make the cuts, leaving enough stock on the drawer sides to the 'rear' of the dado to support the back. Note the stop block attached to the fence.

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    Test cut made and the fit being checked.
    Last edited by Stan; 06-26-2008, 10:34 PM.
    From the NW corner of Montana.
    http://www.elksigndesigns.com

  • #2
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    That is the final cut for the dados, just both side pieces.

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    Getting the measurement for the back of the drawer. Measure from the top of the dado to the top of the drawer.

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    Measure in a few places 'just to be sure'. Ya know, that old 'measure twice -- cut once' thing again.....

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    After cutting the back to size, this is what we have for pieces for one drawer (don't throw that narrow cut-off away yet).

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    Add glue and a few thumps to fit the sides to the drawer front. And yes, you can see from the equipment -- I put mine together with a dead-blow mallet, and touch-up the joints with a standard claw hammer if there is a tough one that doesn't want to fit together.

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    Re-measure the front of the drawer, in this case it is 7-1/4".

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    Based on the two 1/4" dado's on each of the sides, the previous cut-off is used as a storystick after being cut to 6-3/4".

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    Fit this 'storystick' piece in the dado's for the back and take a measurement, adjust accordingly to get the same measurement as the front. Taking time here to get the front and back of the drawer close to identical will save a lot of time and frustration when fitting the drawer with slides into the cabinet.

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    Add glue to the dado's for the back, insert the back and add a couple brads to keep it in place until the glue dries.

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    At this point, I take a piece of stock that will be used for the bottom, fit it into the bottom groove and then snug the back down to it. Basically it is used to make sure there is no gap between the back and the bottom, and that the back doesn't sit down to far and get in the way when the bottom is slid into the groove.
    Last edited by Stan; 03-30-2008, 12:50 PM.
    From the NW corner of Montana.
    http://www.elksigndesigns.com

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    • #3
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      Once the 4 pieces of the box (no bottom yet) are put together, set up a 1/4" roundover in the router table to ease the top edges of the drawer. Route the inside and outside edges.

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      The drawer after having both sides of the top rounded over. After sanding this will have a nice look when using BB ply. A word of warning -- if you don't climb-cut the roundover, BB ply will tear out something fierce. All the standard cautions about using a climb-cut apply here.

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      Now measure from the back of the front, to the back of the back (how's that for Montanaeze)
      Then add 1/4" for the dado in the front.

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      Bottom is cut around a 1/16" narrower than the story-stick when the back was made. That allows it to slide into the groove fairly easily.
      Then cut to the length measured in the previous step.

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      In this case, 21-3/8".

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      Now some finish sanding, inside, outside and the roundover on the top.

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      Bottom is sanded and the edges eased just a bit to help the bottom slide in the grooves.

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      Square up the drawer.

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      And then shoot in some 3/4" staples.

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      And it's done and ready to be installed after a couple coats of lacquer.
      Last edited by Stan; 03-30-2008, 12:54 PM.
      From the NW corner of Montana.
      http://www.elksigndesigns.com

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      • #4
        [ATTACH]9188[/ATTACH]

        After screws are put in the front and back of the drawer slides to hold the slide in place, the center should be clamped 'side-to-side' before the screws are inserted. Helps make sure the drawer bottom isn't sticking and causing the sides to bow out a bit.

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        One of the 4 drawers for the new router cabinet installed.

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        Other three are ready to go also.

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        And it even slides in and out without binding.

        That's about it... any comments, questions or suggestions?
        Last edited by Stan; 03-30-2008, 12:56 PM.
        From the NW corner of Montana.
        http://www.elksigndesigns.com

        Comment


        • #5
          cool. makes me want to get a dovetail jig.

          thanks for the step by step and awesome pictures!!
          _________________________
          omar

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          • #6
            Nice detail Stan. What type of wood did you use for the drawers?
            War Eagle!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by THyman View Post
              Nice detail Stan. What type of wood did you use for the drawers?
              Sorry, guess I should have mentioned that. The drawers are made from 1/2" Baltic Birch plywood for the sides, 1/4" Baltic Birch ply for the bottoms.
              From the NW corner of Montana.
              http://www.elksigndesigns.com

              Comment


              • #8
                That is a well detailed tutorial Stan and a great way to make a strong drawer.
                Ken aka "mater"

                " People may doubt what you say but they will never doubt what you do "

                Ken's Den

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                • #9
                  Very nice, detailed write up Stan. Thanks.
                  Joe
                  "All things are difficult before they are easy"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wow that was a lot of dovetails! Newbies take note of the picture captioned "test cut being made and fit checked. THAT is the safe and proper way to use the fence and miter gauge. Notice how a spacer block is attached to the fence and stops well short of the blade. You can get identical cuts and not worry about a nasty kickback.

                    Good set of photos documenting your project.
                    Larry R. Rogers
                    The Samurai Wood Butcher
                    http://splash54.multiply.com
                    http://community.webshots.com/user/splash54

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                    • #11
                      What's the reason you didn't do the roundovers first? Related question, what is a climb-cut?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rnelson0 View Post
                        What's the reason you didn't do the roundovers first? Related question, what is a climb-cut?
                        No particular reason to not do the roundovers first. Personal preference thing.

                        As for a climb-cut.....

                        I'll link to a great reference from Tom Hintz on hiswebsite. Gives a much better description than I could come up with on my own.


                        http://www.newwoodworker.com/clmbcuttng.html




                        .
                        From the NW corner of Montana.
                        http://www.elksigndesigns.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          stan, your cross cut sled, only has one runner (if that is the correct term) that fits into the slot on the right side of the sled, correct? if so, having only one runner, does that give you enough stability?
                          _________________________
                          omar

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                          • #14
                            Great job Stan! I've taken the liberty of moving this to best of forum to hopefully make it easy for newbies to find. (Stan gets special treatment because he actually attended the first annual{?} NW BT3 gathering!)

                            Stan why do you use 1/4" BB rather than just a/c ply? Great ideas of making a story stick and using a clamp to bring in the sides. Now why had I not thought of that!
                            Donate to my Tour de Cure


                            marK in WA and Ryobi Fanatic Association State President

                            Head servant of the forum

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by footprintsinconc View Post
                              stan, your cross cut sled, only has one runner (if that is the correct term) that fits into the slot on the right side of the sled, correct? if so, having only one runner, does that give you enough stability?
                              Omar,
                              Yes, there is only one miter track under the cross-cut sled, with the side to side adjustment pins that come with that one, it makes it quite stable for cutting cabinet sides, shelves, etc to size.

                              I have a couple more pieces of track and may build a dual track sled one of these days, but for now this one does the trick. Light weight, easy to throw on the saw and go, ya know......
                              From the NW corner of Montana.
                              http://www.elksigndesigns.com

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