I am building some cabinet drawers. The front of the drawere will be
3/4" pine. The sides and the back will be 1/2" baltic birch plywood.
The drawer width will be 14" and the front width will be 15". I will
be using Accuride drawer slides. I am thinking of joining the sides to
the front using a sliding dovetail. I would like to rout a 2 dovetail
slots in the rearside of the drawer front. Then rout matching
dovetails on the front edge of each drawer side. I would then slide
the drawer sides into the slot s in the front and glue it up.
I would appreciate comments as to this strategy. Would it be a strong
joint> What size dovetail bit should I use? What should the depth of
the slot be? What questions should I be asking that I am not?
Thanks for any and all help.
Awful lot of trouble for a drawer.
Not sure how you've do a sliding dovetail
with drawer bottom stock that's typically
1/4", sitting in grooves in the drawer sides
all the way round or at least front and two
sides with the back held in with a brad.
You using side mount or bottom mount
Accuride drawer glides? Need to know
that BEFORE making the drawers.
Properly constructed, a sliding dovetail is a very strong joint for this
application. However, using plywood for the drawer sides will reduce the
joint strength because some of the plywood laminations will be cut away by
the dovetail. These cut laminations will shear off more easily if you pull
hard on the joint. But, that type of load would not ordinarily happen to a
drawer front so the joint should be strong enough.
From your description of the drawer and front sizes, I am assuming that you
are going to use a full inset drawer front. In that case, you will want to
use a stopped dovetail slot so it doesn't show at the top of the drawer
front when the drawer is opened. You will also have to "round over" the top
edge of the drawer side dovetail - or cut it back from the top by a small
amount - to hide it at the inside of the drawer.
The most common size for the joint is to make the dovetail as wide as the
drawer sides - only cutting away just enough from each face of the drawer
side to create a full dovetail cross-section. The depth would commonly be
about half the thickness of the drawer front. In the softwood material of
your drawer front, it would be common to use a 14 degree dovetail for better
strength - but, I would probably go with a 7 degree angle bit in an attempt
to improve the "chip-out" strength of the plywood sides.
A little additional info...
I like and use sliding dovetails all the time. When cutting the
stopped slots, one end of the drawer front will have to be "climb
cut". There is no problem doing so.
There will be a short area on the back of the front at each side where
the side pins do not fill the slots if the sides are less wide than
the front. When I am cutting pins in the sides, I cut a few extra on
scrap, cut off the pins with a band saw and use them to fill the voids
in the drawer fronts.
Standard groove should work just fine, no? You just have to make sure
that the grooves in the front and sides line up, or else cut the groove
with a router after the front and sides are assembled.
I would tend to go with the latter if using a router. I asked because
cutting grooves in already dovetailed plywood sides with a router may be a
little messy, or vice versa.
IME, sliding dovetails being a bit fussy to do themselves, it makes sense to
figure out what can go wrong beforehand ... cuz it will. ;)
The thing that can go wrong most often with sliding dovetail is the
precise spot to cut the slots on the drawer front. When that goes
wrong, the width of the drawer (from side to side) is wrong and you'll
have trouble installing the Accuride drawer slides, especially if they
are side mounted. Try on scraps first to get a handle on the precise
The sencond issue is to hide the slot opening at the bottom of the
drawer front. If you plan to round over the front of the drawer front
with a router, you may get a dip at those spots because the ball
bearing of the router bit lost support at the slot openings. Fill the
slot opening with scrap and tape it before routing the drawer face, or
route the face before cutting the slot.
Another way to hide the slot opening is to do rabbet on the back side
of the drawer front, so that the dovetail is recessed.
This will be a very weak joint. Cutting a pin on the end of BB plywood
- Leave a frayed pin at best, even with a sharp cutter and will
probably have chipped sections.
- Plywood is glued together layers and doesn't have any
interlocking grain such as solid stock. So once you have the pins cut
you have these little strips of layered material hanging out n the
edge of the pin. Cut a pin like that and use your fingers and start
chipping away the layers, you will see what I mean.
The joint won't likely easily fail but it is nowhere near the strength
of a similar joint using solid stock. Especially after driving the pin
into the slot. If it is tight at all you will destroy more of the pin
as you drive it.
Personnaly I would just build a BB box and attach it to the drawer
front with screws (and glue if you want). You can build a dovetailed
box or finger jointed or drawer box joint and have a nicer result.
We are doing dovetaild boxes of BB ply on the CNC and they come out
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