Drawers 1...5, materials, thicknesses, joints, width (max)


Making Drawers
Q 1: what material (MDF, or pine laminated pieces)
2: what thicknesses of material (Its gotta be ", 5/8", 11/16", or ", nom. or not)
3: what joints for front and rear (dovetail, rabbet and dado, lock or bit)
4: what material and thickness for the bottom (white(hard)board, plywood or other)
5: max. Drawer width
My first choice for materials for making drawers is Home Depot. I don't know what to use. They will be installed up against an exposed stud wall in basement. All drawers will eventually be behind the middle 4' sliding mirror door. Sides will be painted or covered with pegboard. Top will be a shelf at approx. 52" from floor.
All the light bulbs, all the widgets and hardware, all the screws and nails, etc. It may get heavy in some of these drawers. All will be full. Could be rags. Large width drawers are for convenience not weight. Absolute exterior dimensions of the drawers will be approx.:
(3x) 4.5h" x 13.7"w x 18.5"d
(2x) 4.5h" x 21.2"w x 18.5"d
(9x) 9.0"h x 13.7"w x 18.5"d
(2x) 9.0"h x 21.2"w x 18.5"d (you could fit 8w x 7d empties inside except the cases & 1/3" off top)
A case of beer is (1x) 9"h x 10"w x15"d
I am going to use side mounted " gap bottom supporting 18" roller slides (from HD). Appearance is not important, so built with through dovetails at front, and false door fronts will never be added. I may just drill or cut pulls into the fronts to maximize depth. Fronts will all be painted white to match pegboard and wire shelving, and all else orange shellac flakes and lacquer thinner. No face frames, only edge on " mdf to support glides. Utility, strength, durability, longevity. Planning same thickness for front, rear and sides, unless wrong.
Joints: I am willing to choose through dovetails by hand for the front and spend on a hand dovetail saw and guide< http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&pA718&cat=1,42884>. For the rear join I have been thinking rabbet and dado.
11/16" solid laminated pine ain't bad, but I think I'd prefer to hear that I can cut a solid dovetail out of " or 5/8" nom. mdf by hand for the front, and use a really fast machined joint, like a rabbet and dado, in the rear.
I understand a lock joint can be weak. I may have 4 gallons of paint in these drawers on rollers. Is there any other type of router bit that can create a quick strong joint?
E.g.. < http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p0119&cat=1,46168,46174 >
Haven't seen anyone mention rabbet and dado for the front.
Material: I can use that 11/16" solid pine sideways-laminated that comes either loose or in plastic. Both have suitable surface, and no more expensive than plywood laminated in the other direction. Great. But will the laminate come unglued? They did on my top doorjamb (the laminates split 3/32" at end x 3" long, but that was screw-stress related). Are they biscuited? Are they lasting?
What about mdf? Can you cut a dovetail out of mdf? How does a lock joint work in mdf? How does a rabbet and dado work in mdf? How is mdf for drawers?
Thickness: Solid pine laminate only comes in 11/16" (actually not sure if nominal). Should I be complaining it is too thick. Its not a full .750". But mdf comes in ", and 5/8" nominal. That seems a better thickness than ", or even 11/16", no?
Bottoms: I know there are lots of thin plywood ( like approx. " or mm): which is good? What kind of core What about that thin stuff that backs some furniture. The cheap stuff. (Hard)board? Comes in white, etc?
Width: I can't remember why drawers have a limit to width and I don't know if my plans exceed this. Am I all right? The 21-3/16"w drawers MAY get split bottoms front to back for bottom strength, but will they twist or something? Was that width rule by wall thickness, or twist; I can't say.
I have a 3 h.p. 10" table saw with a 1/8" 36-tooth carbide tipped combination blade. I do not want to buy a dado or other blade(s) unless necessary because I may not keep the saw long.
I have a " shank 1-1/4 h.p. 9,000 -27,0000 rpm variable speed router, a router table with a fence and mitre, and a 26- piece router bit set including 1/2" dovetail and 1/8", 1/4", 1/2", and 3/4" straight bits. I am willing to buy more bits if necessary. Like a 3/8" or 5/8" straight, which I don't know if I need also anyway?
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Personally, I'd dado/rabbet the back and hand cut the front dovetails with the Lee Valley jig you listed. I have the same jig, and cannot say enough good things about it. (Except I marked the jig sides for "pins" and "tails" because sometimes i get confused on which side to use!) In any case, it'll give you good practice hand cutting them if you've never, and it's a joy to learn. Make sure you have a good set of sharp chisels, and if you like the fine pins on your DT's get 1/8" and/or 1/4" chisels as well. I'd suggest poplar for the drawer stock. It works fairly easily, is durable, and will take paint well. You can use it at the store bought thickness (3/4") but I prefer to plane it to 5/8".
P.S. buy a small dorm fridge for the case of beer, it's no good kept in a drawer warm! --dave

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Don't have a planer. Won't be sanding. Agree on future skill, but just want strong joints now. A single 1"x10"x8' piece of pine at home depot is the same price as an entire 48" x8' 5/8 mdf board. Nearly build a house. Pine laminate twice that of pine laminate. Hmm, where to get poplar, not at HD, right? Bet the price would compare with HD pine anyway... Maybe I'll check outside the box and get back. In the mean time.
so, is mdf ( dovetail, rabbet & dado, general, thickness) do-able?
OR
is a strong fast-machined joint (e.g. router bit) in either mdf or pine laminate do-able?
& the other questions about the bottom and width.
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Do you have a router table? If so, the drawer lock bit would do a good job.
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yes, I have a table.
BTW, I mean 3/4" pine laminate is inch for inch only twice as expensive as 5/8" mdf. Its flat, straight and smooth enough for 99/100 shelf pieces. Even the cheap stuff.
Do you mean the mitre lock, as opposed to the (std?) right angled lock joint I could make with a table saw. The question I have with these joints is about their strength. They are recomended for small drawers. I would love to use them. But should I? Does it depend on material? I'd probably be succesful in the pine laminate, but not so fast. Maybe I'll demo. Any advantage of one over the other method of lock joint (straight or mitre). Why the bit? Need to find rock bottom price for poplar boards. If they are like pine 1" x 10" x 8' (like at HD) they could be cut into strips for long bows. Its midnight.
And about MDF: I just read a post about cabinets & mdf vs. plywood. A lot of talk about mold.
I had a particle core custom made TV stand that would swell in the high humidity of summer. It was sitting off the floor on heavy-duty rollers. It was 3/4" thick PC covered 100% with thick, self -supporting formica or whatever, not the paper or platic like. From solid sheets. Whatever that is called. It cost me ~$500.00. I had to spend another $500 on a dehumidifier because the edge banding (of the same stuff) glued on the front edges actually showed that the PC was expanding past it thickness wise. You could see the particles. I would then crank buckets of water out of the air into the basement shower drain, and it was like new. It was always in the basement, away from walls. Don't know other levels.
Anyways unless someone answers here first I'm gonna ask in a new post if mdf will react the same as PC. If it does it isn't pretty believe me!
In fact I invested in a Bionaire electronic temp & humidity meter and can tell you that I would have to keep the humidity below 60 at all times. That meant closing the windows, the whole 9. Everyday. It was cat and mouse. About 60%. Which here in Toronto is several weeks, even possible months. Great move anyways- the dehumidifier !!
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bent wrote:

Wow, more information than I want to know. For simple utility, I would use 1/2" plywood (fir) for everything except the front which would be 3/4" Maybe use 3/8" for the bottoms. That's what I used to make drawers for my tools. Course I didn't get fancy with roller slides; they just set on wood (waxed of course).
Dado all the joints except the front: back fits in the sides, the bottoms fit in the sides the back and the front and cut rabbits for the sides to fit in the front. Cut the dadoes one-half the depth of the piece and 3/8" from the edge. Glue everything. Your drawer sizes aren't anything excessive and certainly not as large as most of mine.
You can use solid wood that is 1/2-3/4 for everything but it won't be as stable as plywood. I wouldn't use MDF for drawers, it weighs too much. Also, you might like tempered both sides hadboard (Masonite) in 1/4" size for drawer bottoms.
Cut everything with a saw and buy a staked dado. If you are cheap, buy it on sale from Harbor Freight. You can use the router, but it will end up a lot more work without a router table.
Good Luck.
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I have a router table, so either, or, I think.
You mean use 3/4" ply for the front, 1/2" ply for sides and back. Plywood being the question, not the 3/4".
You say to rabbet the front 3/4" into the side 1/2". Doesn't that mean too deep.
Also doesn't that leave a gap at the front between the sides. That is where a lock joint, or the mitred lock joint comes in. But in ply that kinda sucks, I think, because that tiny edge is begging to break off, ain't it?
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Pine is fine... why not solid pine? It's probably cheaper

1/2 or 5/8 looks nicest, but this is purely utility and you don't have a planer, so I would go with over the counter 3/4".

Dado is quick and adequate for the back. It's not a high-stress joint. Don't overthink this.

plywood
Ply all the way. 1/4 luan is fine for all but the drawers for seriously heavy items (large quantities of nails, paint cans, *full* case of beer). 3/8 would do there.
Glue the bottom in a dado on all 4 sides.

Huh? You spec the drawes below.

If you really want to learn handcut dovetails, buy the LV sliding bevel, a square and lean to cut to the line. This is the perfect project to practice on. The siding bevel is a really nice tool. Not trying to be snobby but I conside the afforementioned guide to be a crutch. I also am not too fond of one-trick ponies.

I
The dovetail joint was invented to work well with solid wood (which is very strong in one dimension be very weak in the other). DT's in MDF is a waste of time. It has very different properties.

Dado is fine for the back

.... Are they

No and yes in that order. Just glue, which is *stronger* than wood.

No No NO.

Probably OK to poor

Pretty well

Too heavy. Considerably less strong. MDF is flat and cheap. It makes pretty good counter substrate. It has good compressive strength. However, it is probably twice the weight/vol of pine and had considerably less tensile strength. If it cones in contact with water is will turn to oatmeal in short order. Did I mention that it's ugly? ;-)

But
or
No big deal... the only potential gotcha is using trying to use a router bit to make a dado, but that's a pitfall for all sheet stock. Never assume nominal thickness.

For utility drawer bottoms, any is fine

Core doesn't matter much because stress is mostly on the outer layers.
What about that thin stuff that backs some

Ew! Stay away, except for Quick/dirty/cheap applications.

split
something?
I'm unaware of rules, but IME that size is fine.

Why, because you want to get out of the sawdust business, or because that 3HP saw is a POS-direct-drive-universal motor-only-under-start-up-for-an-instant-when-the-15-Amp-110V-breaker-is-abo ut-to-pop-3HP-saw?
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bent wrote:

Between the two, the pine. ___________________

Fronts 3/4. Sides, any. ________________

For fronts I like sliding dovetails...strong, easy to make. In days of yore I used to use rabbeted sides into front dados pinning same with a brad angled from the side (glued too).
Rear is rabbet into dado. _________________

I prefer 1/4" ply (grain goes side to side) but hardboard works too, just not as strong. HD here has crummy 1/4" so I've started using door skins sometimes. Only 1/8" but works fine for normally loaded drawers. Cheap too. ________________

There is no limit AFAIK but practically around 36". ___________________

Poplar is much nicer than pine IMO. If HD doesn't have it there are many online wood suppliers. ______________________

I wouldn't call those big drawers. Regardless, do yourself a favor and partition them. Partitions turn drawers from a depository for junk into something useful.
There are two really easy ways to subdivide drawers...
1. Close to full height partitions either side to side or front to back. Cut 1/4 inch "V"s into either at intervals of 1 1/4" or so taking care that they are opposite each other. Make the partitions of 1/4" ply with the edges beveled to fit the "V"s. Partitions are now easy to rearrange.
2. Trays. They can either lift out or slide. An easy way to make supports for sliding trays is to use 3/4" material for the sides and cut a 1/4" rabbet on the inside tops so that the bottom of the rabbet supports the tray. Even - maybe especially - your 4.5" drawers would benefit from a tray maybe 1 - 11 /2 deep for little stuff. Needless to say, the trays (and the bottom drawer portion) can also be partioned as in #1. ____________________

As I said, sliding dovetails. ________________

I did but sliding dovetails are lots better and no harder to make. ___________________

Ever had cheap kitchen cabinets/drawers made of MDF? Place i rented one time did, they were awful. ________________

White tile board is OK for some things. I often use it in my drawer trays.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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I think I'm going back to a lock joint or mitred lock joint for the front. Only because I am going to use a solid material, solid or laminated. I've got some Any articles or comments on the use of the mitred lock joint router bit compared with a basic lock joint done on a table saw with a regular blade. The std. one that I think looks like two inverted F's, one going down the side and nothing showing across the front. Don't know, don't have any F' s around to check.. You can't get any easier for making a joint that one bit, one set-up! Is this as strong?
because,
I've got a dresser with some |"| front with |3/8"| elsewhere solid drawers with std. lock at the front, and rabbet and dado at the rear. Both of these joints rely on a 1/8" x 1/8" tang, besides the obvious gluing surface. If I found a dozen of them the right size I'd slap glides and paint on them.
If you randomly screwed the 11/16" pine laminate to a bowed board with any hand pressure you'd eventually end up with several pieces.
Outside the box here in TO solid pine, knotty 1"x10" is 1.09 per foot, about 18% more than cutting down the 12" or 16" solid laminated 11/16" pine product. I hope you don't think less of me but I don't know if I'll need any filler or paint, besides the shellac flakes and white front faces anyway.
I still don't know what the tang would be like in plywood, maybe 3/4" Baltic Birch would be ok. Problem is |"| on small drawers..
My max drawer width concern was probably to do with bottom strength.
I just know nothing about what material is avail at a cheap price. I am actually worried that the 1" x10" nominal =|3/4"| will be warped enough to actually change my mind. No planar. And what to do about the sides and rear. They sell " knotty pine at 10" widths for about 25% more than the |3/4"|. It is |1/2"|.
Just called them back.. They plane the 1" nom to get the |"|. Says he can plane all or any of it to 5/8", or anything I want. I described a 4 foot x 4 foot by 1-1/2 foot chest of drawers and he said I could buy the " and all the planing would be about $40.00. So you're paying a bit more than the ".
THIS IS WHAT I WANT. I'll probably go with flat, solid |5/8 "| for the large drawers and |"| for the small. Don't know if I'll splurge on the router bit yet. I mean you just can't miss! Gonna check on thicknesses it can handle. Table saw std. mitre set-up is piece of cake. A 1/8" blade and the rest is up to you!
Is there any difference between a std. through dovetail and a sliding dovetail? The one that slides together side to side, but won't come apart front to back when pulled. Half-blind same
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bent wrote:

Huh? A sliding dovetail is like a rabbet & dado...long vertical dovetail socket on the fronts, tails all along the front edge of the sides. If you try them, make a fit that slides together easily...lots of friction in a long sliding dovetail.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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I have a 1/2" dovetail bit in my (new) set. One of 26. It is 1/2" Dia. at the very fat end. The actual end. It has a perpendicular cutting depth of 1/2". Nearest the shaft it is about 1/4" Dia.
If you wanted a groove, you get one cut, because you can't adjust the depth of cut.
Is that what this is for?
So put the groove in the back of the face. Easy way to cover the glides too. I may even try to even the sides now.
How do I do this? more.
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bent wrote:

Uhhhh...it's for whatever you want to use it for. Any cut needing that profile. ___________________

Yes, assuming that's where you want to attach the drawer sides. __________________

I have no idea what you are talking about. ____________________

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=how+to+make+sliding+dovetail&bt nG=Search
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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I think cutting a dovetail like that is an exception to the light cut rule of routing.
I'm thinking more about plywood now. Theres so many options of nominal thicknesses. Birch too, which is a hardwood.
Veneer core. Very hard edges. Gonna see what kind of routing and edges are ok.
And its flat, flat, flat. For now anyway.
Every type of solid wood I see could be flat, or could be warped. Just depends on the day.
About that solid glued up pine. In the plastic its |3/4"|. Loose its |11/16"|. At HD 12" = |12"|. 16" prob is |16"|
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