How to Build Kitchen Cabinet Drawer Boxes

11 Steps - How to Build Kitchen Cabinet Drawer Boxes


Step 0 - Before You Start Have a Plan

Plan your drawer size and understand the drawer guide hardware before starting to build the drawer boxes! The sizes are given to understand the steps - NOT - to wing your drawer building and plan as you build. Different drawer guide hardware may change your drawer box width size -The drawer example is using a 1" clearance type of drawer hardware such as Knape & Vogt drawer guides.

Step 1 - Cutting and Sizing Your Drawer Sides
New cabinet drawer lengths vary pending on cabinets type and size.
Typical Kitchen Drawer Length of Sides Size- 22"
Bathroom Vanity Drawer Side Length - 16"

Step 2 - How To Find Your Front and Back Sizes
17" and 20" are common drawer opening sizes. Lets Say the total width of your cabinet opening is 17". If your hardware clearance type is 1/2" build your new drawer box 16" wide. (Tip -Less 1/16" Eases Installation) If drawer material size is 3/4" (3/4" pine) subtract drawer dado thickness 3/8" x 2 (2 Drawer Sides) so your drawer front and back measurement is 15 1/4" - 1/16" Extra Room = 15 3/16".

Step 3 -How To Find Drawers Bottom Size
Example: Total drawer width size is 17"
If hardware is 1/2" build your new drawer size 16" wide (Remember the Tip- Less 1/16" Eases Drawer Installation) If drawer material size is 3/4" subtract drawer dado thickness 3/8" x 2 (2 Drawer Sides) so your new drawer bottom measurement is 15 1/4" - 1/16" Extra Room = 15 3/16". A 22" - drawer length - less dado thickness = 21 3/16" Drawers Bottom Length.

Step 4 -Dado Sides- If drawer material size is 3/4" (3/4" pine is a common building material to build new drawers) your drawers dado is 3/8" deep. The width is the same as your drawers material (3/4" with Example).
TIP - Run Sample Dadoes Prior To Dadoing Your Drawer Pieces. You should have plenty of samples in your cut off storage box by now for these sample dadoes. A dado blade may work best for building a lot of drawers. For building only a few drawer boxes a table saw works fine. Clamping the drawer box sides together and routing the drawer sides all at once is a tip to speed up time for professionals.

If you do not have a dado blade or are only building a few drawer boxes - Set your table saw at 3/8" with blade up 3/4" in height to dado your side pieces. Run all your drawer sides through the table saw - vertically - Dadoing all 4 corners. Reset table saw - lower blade to 3/8" and 3/4" WITH blade thickness (5/8" saw setting with a 1/8" saw kerf)

Step 5
Dado the bottom of all four of your cabinet drawer pieces 3/8" up from the bottom of the drawer. The dado size is the width of your drawer's bottom (Commonly 1/4 - 5/16" plywood). Size your bottom dado's groove according to the width of your drawer bottom material.

Step 6
Drawer Parts Sanding Sand Your Drawer Box Pieces Prior To Assembly

Step 7a- Drawer Assembly
A brad nailer or air stapler is a great method to fasten your drawer sides. If you do not have access to air tools for your drawer assembly there are two alternative options for fastening. Both require pre-drilling of the drawer sides with a small drill bit. Tip - An actual brad nail is backup option for your drill bit in soft woods. Hand brad nails (You hammer by hand) is the first option. The second method is short screws.

To begin drawer assembly fasten the drawers front to the two sides.
Using 1" staples in a 1/4" crown stapler may be your best choice. Glue the joints - Do NOT over do the glue to where it oozes into the drawer. Then slide in your drawers bottom and fasten the back.

Step 7b - Drawer Squaring -
After your drawer is put together, square your drawer using a 2' square. Diagonal measurements from corner to corner is the other common drawer squaring method. Place Glue blocks (5/16" thick boards 3" long approximately) with wood glue.
Tip- Using a hot glue gun to replace glue blocks
Using this tip may be desired if you wish to rout and sand your drawers immediately. Otherwise let your drawers glue dry completely before moving to the routing and sanding drawer step.

Step 8 -Routing and Sanding Drawers
Routing drawers leaves a nice rounded corner on the top edges. If you have a router use a 3/16" or 1/4" round over bit. TIP -Routing backwards first (right to left) prevents blow outs. Rout the drawer top everywhere except the front. Here the drawer front will be attached. When finished clean up the drawer by sanding.

Tip -Clamp or fasten (Screwing is fine as your drawer front will cover your holes) a board the same length as your drawer front to the front of your drawer before routing. This will prevent you from going too far and rounding off the front of your drawers corner.

Step 9 -Drawer Finish
If you choose wood materials for your new drawers box such as pine in the example the wood will need finishing. Using polyurethane finish is an excellent choice for your long term satisfaction.

Step 10-Drawer Installation Guide
Install Your Drawer Guide Hardware
Follow your hardware guide directions for installation. Keep the drawer guide just behind the front of your drawer, and look for a right and a left drawer marking.

Installation Tip - Use a small Vick's bit to predrill.

Step 11 -Adding a Drawer Front
(Note: Building the Drawer Front Is Not Included Here)
Use a clamp to hold the front to the drawer box. Place cardboard or a wood spacer between the clamp to prevent damage to your drawers finish. Secure the front to your drawer box at the correct locations predetermined on the cabinet. Predrill and countersink the drawer box and then fasten your box to the drawer front with 1" to 1 1/4" screws. Apply Your cabinet's hardware and your new drawer is installed! - Great Job!

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* Dado - Cutting a notch or groove into a board

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