You can make a drawer a thousand ways. Some are stronger than others. Some are easier than others. Some are faster than others. Some require tools most people don’t keep handy. Some require minimal tools.
I’m going to explain the two main ways I make drawers. One is super simple and requires minimal tools. The other requires either a table saw or router. Are you ready to begin “Drawer Making 101?” Yeah, right…like I’m qualified to TEACH anything. HA!
I’m sorry, I have to digress for a second…speaking of me teaching things, did you guys know that I taught Basic Electrical Circuits at a community college before I started my current job? It was very short lived–just one half semester class. I had just graduated college and was still looking for a full-time job. I was working part time as an intern at a big company, but the chances of landing a full-time gig there was slim. So I branched out and got another part time job teaching thinking that would get my foot in the door to teach full-time. Long story short, I hated teaching, and shortly after I started, I got a full-time job offer as a Process Engineer…we wont talk about my feelings about that… So, I left both part time jobs and now here I am…steel toes, hardhat, safety glasses and all.
Okay, so that was random…but I did want to clarify that apparently I am/was qualified to teach something at some point haha. So, okay, on to drawer making.
The first step is the same for both ways of making drawers. You will need to determine the size of your drawer. Depth, width, height. This will depend on several things–like whether your drawers will be inset, the depth of your cabinet, the type of drawer slides you are using, and the thickness of your boards (typically 3/4″). You can cut plywood pieces the height you want your drawers to be or you can use 1×3, 1×4, 1×6, etc boards for the drawer sides depending on the depth you need.
Many people make a drawer box–four sides, then attach the face front separately. I usually save lumber by making my fourth side the face front. BUT, I did try this way when I made my nightstands. It worked out fine, but I thought it was a little difficult to get my face front straight. You can do this either way. Just make sure your front piece that will be the face front is cut 1/4″ narrower than your opening.
Cut your pieces to size for your drawer. Helpful hint–if you are using drawer slides, you typically make the overall width of your drawer (NOT THE FACE FRONT–just the drawer itself) 1″ narrower than your opening. Check the drawer slide instructions for certain. Cut both side pieces the depth (how far into the cabinet you want the drawer to go) you want your drawer to be minus 3/4″ for the front.
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#1: The “router/table saw” way of making drawers
These are the types of drawers I made for my dresser and for my desk. They are basically a four sided box, with a groove cut out at the bottom for a thin pieces of plywood to slide into. These are nice because they will hide the plywood edge of the bottom piece. They just look cleaner.
Once my pieces were cut for my dresser drawers, I used my Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes in the back side of the back piece and into one end of each side piece. See picture below.
Once the pocket holes were drilled, I used a router to route out a 1/4″ wide and 1/4″ deep groove about 1/4″ from the bottom edge of all four sides of the drawer. NOTE: If using plywood, I recommend going up from the bottom edge about 1/2″ instead of 1/4″. I learned that during this process.
If you don’t have a router, you could use a table saw for this, but it will be more time consuming. You can read about how to cut grooves like this using the table saw here.
Then I assembled the two sides and the back of the drawer with the pocket holes and screws I drilled earlier.
I measured the opening of the drawer and cut a 1/4″ piece of plywood 1/2″ wider and 1/2″ longer than the opening. Slide this piece into the grooves. Place the front piece on allowing the plywood to slide into its groove. Center the face front and check for square. I attached the front with the pocket holes I drilled earlier.
And there you have a drawer!
As I said before, you COULD HAVE attached a front piece identical to the back piece, then screwed this face front onto it, but I saved the extra board and did it this way.
I made six of these for my dresser.
#2: The super simple drawer
These are the types of drawers I made for this little coffee cabinet (post coming soon), and for the telephone bench I made a while back.
They are simple and easy and don’t require a lot of tools. But the downside is (wherever there is “easy” there is always a downside haha) that they don’t look as clean from the sides because you see a plywood edge.
Cut your pieces just as before and drill the pocket holes just as before. Attach the sides and back pieces using the pocket holes and screws.
Place this 3-sided box onto a piece of 1/4″ plywood and make sure it is sitting square. Trace out the box shape onto the plywood and cut it out using a jig saw, table saw, handsaw, whatever.
Turn the 3 sided box top side down on a work surface and place the 1/4″ plywood piece you just cut onto it, lining up the edges. Using a staple gun (preferred), nail gun, or simply hammer and nails, attach the plywood to the box, making sure everything is square as you go.
Then align the bottom of the front piece with the bottom of the plywood and attach it with the pocket holes and screws you drilled earlier.
And there you have a drawer!
Easy peesy. As I said before, you could have done this the same way with a four sided drawer box and an additional face front, but I save the extra board and just make it this way.
See, there’s no wrong way to
eat a Reese’s build a drawer box. Well, I supposed there are probably wrong ways to do it, but there is no ONE RIGHT way to build one. I build mine several different ways depending on what I’m doing.
Don’t be afraid of drawers, they really aren’t that bad 🙂 And you don’t have to have special tools to make them–unless you wanna get super fancy and fancy just isn’t my thing haha.
Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend and don’t forget about Father’s Day!!!
Until next time, happy building!!