You mean groove, not rabbet, right?
If the bottom is solid wood, it has to be that way to allow for expansion
and contraction of the bottom pannel. The pannel should be free to move and
should be allowed to expand out the back if necessary. Brads are actually
pretty forgiving in this respect.
If the bottom is plywood, I would capture it on all four sides and glue it
in place using the plywood to add structural strength to the drawer. IMNSHO
this is one applpication where plywood is superior to solid wood.
If it "has to be that way" why do frame and panel doors work OK? :)
I think it only done this way as a carry over from the days before
plywood was available. It is pretty rare to see an old drawer with it's
original solid wood bottom that is NOT cracked. Leaving the back open
just makes it easier to replace or R&R. One other reason might be
simply to make construction easier, though I typically dado all for
sides and have neaver had any trouble with assembly.
With a F&P door you will have typically 2 inches or so into which you can
oversize your groove by 1/8" to accomodate expansion. In a 1/2" thick
drawer, there isn't a whole lot left after you subtract for the groove and
the expansion allowance.
OK, I suppose, so long as it fits to a hare's breath.
Stronger which way? There are no strenuous forces pushing it back and
forth, and it is well enough supported vertically in either case, even
if one method might be measureably slightly stronger than another.
There would have to be some considerable effort to deform the back of
the drawer to prove a point, and tha simply doesn't occur naturally.
There are other more important considerations such as replacement,
which has been mentioned.
<<I rabbet all 4 sides. I don't think I have ever even heard of anyone
wanting to remove a drawer bottom, and it certainly looks more
Looks like we are a minority.<<
I think the consideration is what the drawer is fitted in. I repair a
lot of kitchen drawers that are beat up pretty badly as they are
overloaded with silverware, utensils, and some even put plates, etc. in
them. The bottoms will bulge out until the drawer bottoms sag so much
they fall out of the groove, or the drawer will not close easily, which
results in the famous female "hip check" to make sure it does. I have
also found that people put leaky things in them such as lamp oil, glue,
solvent base cleaners, and all manner of other liquids. So replacing a
drawer bottom is a good thing for them.
On the other hand, if it is the prized family heirloom Federal style
highboy, probably enough care is taken in its use to ensure that the
drawers are not abused.
I guess spills happen, but there is no way the
bottoms of my drawer will bulge unless you take
the drawer out, lay it on the floor, and jump on
the bottom. If the bottoms had been made of 1/4"
stuff and glued in, you wouldn't have nearly as
I'm with you two. Seems like if there is sufficient abuse to break the
drawer bottom, you are also going to see sufficient force applied in the
use of the drawer to make the brads pull loose and deform the bottom such
that stuff falls out the back of the drawer.
If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough
I groove all four sides, too, for the same reasons you mention. I figure
that if you ever really had to remove a bottom, you could always plough a
groove through the back (down to the drawer-bottom groove) and slide the
bottom out that way. But I've never needed to.
Incidentally, I don't use fasteners in drawer-boxes. (I do use them to
secure false fronts). I only mention this in case someone does use a brad
or two ("to hold it in place while the glue dries" :-), that they would
need to exercise some care in ploughing (plowing) the groove to release
Do I get a point deduction for excessive use of parentheses? (G)
I like the "Norm" method because it provides a quick and easy way to square
the drawer. Because you attach the bottom with brads along the back, you
can use a square to true up the box as you put in the brads.
Totally enclosed is stronger, makes the box
stiffer, is slightly more difficult to assemble,
but makes squaring the box easier. OTOH, it makes
it somewhat more difficult to change the bottom,
I always make my bottoms totally enclosed because
I won't be able to change the bottom anyway; I
glue the bottom in. I don't worry about wood
movement because I use plywood for the sides and
the rear, and the bottom is of Masonite or
plywood. I have never had a problem with drawers
due to wood movement, but I also live in a fairly
dry climate. If you use solid wood for those parts
you would be asking for trouble if glued in.
I laminated all my plywood drawer bottoms (and shelves), doubt they'll
wear or break first. Enclosed all 4 sides and glued.
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