What is a strong joint for 1/2" ply drawers? These are going to be
relatively large drawers; 30" wide x 12" high x 28"deep and will carry a
good bit of weight in them(power tools, parts, etc. Nahm uses a dovetail
jig but it's out of my price range. I have to make about a dozen of these
drawers so the joint has to be relatively easy to reproduce.
I know many folks will probably suggest fancy joinery, but I've made dozens
of drawers with simple butt joints (sides overlapping front and back) and
they have held up very well. Many of these are loaded quite heavily.
I prefer to use 3/4" ply for the front and back as it gives more of an edge
to glue and nail into. I use 1/4" plywood for the bottoms set into a simple
dado. I use a router bit that is undersized to match the true size of 1/4"
plywood, so the bottom doesn't rattle around in the groove.
I typically use inexpensive 3/4 extension Blum drawer slides, but did use
full extension slides in my computer desk.
If you insist on using a more advanced joint, you could try a "Drawer
Lock" router bit (92123 or 22637 at Rockler for about $35).
Sounds like you're building utility drawers, rather than "fine
furniture". Two thoughts:
In joining the sides to the front, a simple rabbet is fine as far as it
goes, but with the size and weight considerations, why not simply attach
a vertical gluing block (1x2"x height of drawer sides) next to the
rabbets on the drawer front? You will then have lots of glue area and
room for screws to hold the sides on. Wouldn't be noticeable from the
outside, and for a utility drawer, wouldn't be objectionable from the
inside. Simple butt/rabbet drawer joints are ok on kitchen drawers, but
not on drawers the size you are contemplating.
Also, you will find that 1/4 inch plywood is not going to handle much
weight as a bottom with your drawer dimensions. Use 1/2 inch ply as a
Perhaps. If the pulls are at the ends, there shouldn't be much flexing.
You could always stiffen it with a horizontal 1x2, but I really think
3/4 inch is the way to go for the fronts.
In Frank Klausz' biscuit joinery video
He uses biscuits and shims to crank out a bunch of plywood drawers. I
tried it on drawers for two workstations and my workbench, and once
you've got the proper shimming setup, it really does go fast and makes
a good solid drawer. I'm using some of them for things like router
storage, dado blades, etc. In the deep ones, lots of heavy stuff. No
But you need a biscuit joiner to do it. And I wouldn't feel comfortable
trying it if I hadn't seen the video.
"I haven't seen that video. Biscuit joinery is pretty straightforward.
What's different in the video about making drawers?"
Doing it with 5/8 ply (maybe 3/4, I can't remember now but I don't
think so) and using Frank's preferred method of referencing from the
bench surface, not from the surface of the plywood. Using shims and
simple jigs to get the blade centered on the end of the wood. The
method he used to line up for the cut so each side would fit together
so well. I could have figured out for myself how to set up for a long
batch job for several drawers, but it was nice to watch how he did it.
I could go on and on but I won't be able to explain it any better than
that, which is probably why he made a video of it and I didn't.
My local library system has most of his vids.
I use a rabbet joint. While not exceptionally strong it works well with
plywood. The beauty to the joint is that it is simple to make and helps
align the corners perfectly and allows a bit more surface area to glue. In
addition I always use brads too when using 1/2 thick plywood .
Yes, quite well.
Typically a few fingers in each joint will be gnarly as some
of the plywood will delaminate but finger joints make up in
numbers for what they lack individually,. With good quality
plywood and a sharp bit they may look OK and a a false
drawer front can cover them up if they don't.
Sounds like you are building the "Miter Saw Station" with all
those drawers ???
A simple rabbet will work, a locking rabbet will work better.
I used 1/2" birch plywood for all the drawers.
I did all mine with a cheap($100) dovetail jig.
I offer the following advice....
Norm recommends a basic 26" or 28" 100# class slide for those
big ass drawers. I would "stongly" recommend a 150# class slide
for the bigger drawers. The smaller "trays" will be fine but
when you start piling a ton of hand tools in those drawers,
those 100# slides will not hold up.
It is VERY important to get those carcases built VERY square
cause if you don't, those BIG ASS drawers are gonna give you a
fit. Use a story stick and watch your assembly.
You will need help for the assembly in my opinion. That's a
LOT of big plywood panels to deal with and keep square during
your glue up.
The project on the face, seems right easy but with that large
set of drawers, you must be very accurate.
It's a fun project, so take your time and have fun.
Man there are some detectives in this group! Yeah, ok I'm building his
station. Because of space constraints, mine turned out to be 13' instead of
Thanks, I'll go with 150's.
Breaking it down into an 8' section and a 5' section I somehow managed to
assemble it by my lonesome. Squareness check turned out A-ok after a few
adjustments. I'll post some pics on abpw of the frame so far later today.
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