Build Your Own Drawers!

A few weeks ago I mentioned in a post for the “#IGBuildersChallenge” that I made a dozen (yes 12…) drawers for an apothecary style table.   The contest only called for two drawers in the design, but forever trying to escape this Lazy Guy moniker (that I branded and gave myself…) I thought I could get the attention of the judges by doing 6 times the work.

When I mentioned this change of plans to my mom and the fact that I hadn’t built a drawer before, she immediately mentioned my dad couldn’t build drawers either because he had been tasked to build one several years ago and still hadn’t.  Well dad, no excuses, i’m now an expert here to guide you.

Rather than cutting the pieces and making one drawer at a time, resetting, and then starting over with the next drawer, I ended up making my own little production line.  With each drawer consisting of 6 pieces (not including hardware) at 12 drawers total, that would give me a big pile of 72 individual parts.

I cut all of the drawer frames to length.  Luckily your front and rear frames will be the same size, as will your left and right sided pieces.  I stacked my material and typically cut two pieces at once.  In order to save time from having to measure each piece, I attached a “Stop Block” on the end of my saw stand.  That allows me to just slap down a piece of lumber and cut it, knowing that where the board “stops” gives me the correct measurement.  I just used scrap lumber and a pair of quick clamps, no need to go the extra mile.  Once I made all of my cuts I got ready for round two…

I’ve talked about Dado cuts on the site before.  If you missed that post, a dado cut is a groove cut at a set depth across a board using either a special blade or with multiple passes with a table/miter saw to get a desired width/depth.  In this case, I needed to cut a consistent groove in all four sides of the drawer frame so I could easily slide a piece of backer board into the slot to create the drawer bottom.  That meant the cuts needed to all line up.  Ever put stuff in a cheaply made drawer and had the bottom push out?  I’m trying to avoid that.

Because I needed two passes with the saw blade, to get the desired groove cut, I “improvised” and made a jig out of scrap lumber and clamps.  As before with dado cuts, you want to add a spacer board between the fence and your material (1. Spacer).  Because you are only cutting a set depth into the material, the cuts made closest to the fence will taper off with the contour of the saw blade without a spacer.  I then set up my Stop Blocks and clamped them directly to my saw base.  The gap between the two stop boards is spaced to allow the piece of material to shift the width of the blade before I make my next cut.  I make one pass with the material pushed all the way to the left and another with it pushed all the way to the right.

It should go without saying here, but be cautious of the saw blade or use a push/grip tool if you have to.   Chicks dig scars, but missing fingers is something completely different.  You can tell I’m a professional by the lack of sleeves on my shirt in this video.

Ignoring the clutter stacked to the sides in the video… this slick little operation saved me hours of work.  With this jig, I was able to make 96 cuts in record time.

Next up, I dry fitted one of my drawers and measured for the backer board (thin plywood) I would be using for my drawer bottoms.  You want the backer board to fit loosely into the frame so that it will easily slide into the slot you’ve created.  If you make it too wide, your frame pieces will not fit together.

With my pieces all cut, I switched gears in my production line and switched over to assembly.  Even though it would have been nice to go fancy pants with my joints and use dovetails, I didn’t have the time or the patience to cut those for this project.  So I opted on using pocket holes with my Kreg Jig.  I pre-drilled the holes on all of the front and back frame pieces so they wouldn’t be visible when the drawers are pulled out.  All said and done, 12 drawers required a total of 96 pocket holes (4 on each end piece).   With all pieces ready, I could now quickly assemble the drawers.  I’ve posted this video before, but each drawer took less than 2 minutes to fully assemble because A.  I’m awesome and B. all the early steps make this process fly when it’s time to put the puzzle together.

If only I could make the entire project move that quickly.  Ha.

After attaching the hardware using my “Perfect Drawer Pulls Every Time” method I’ve shown before, I then attached the drawer faces with a combination of wood glue and my nail gun.  I had already measured how much the drawer face was going to overlap the frame when the drawer was inserted into the table, so I just drew a quick outline on the back of each drawer face so I could quickly line up the drawers before attaching them.

So there you go (dad), no excuses now.  With the right set up, drawers are extremely easy.  You just need to make sure it’s a repeatable action, because the last thing you want your piece of furniture to have is wonky drawers.  And don’t skimp on installing hardware.  Watch my tutorial for the drawer pulls because eyeballing it doesn’t cut it.  Being off a fraction of an inch is an eyesore to even untrained eyes.

Have questions about this process?  Feel free to Contact Me with any questions, big or small. ~Lazy Guy

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x