Building your own drawers is useful in many situations - no matter whether you're making a dresser, nightstand or build-in cabinet, it's a good thing to know how to build and install drawers. I'm going to use my box joint jig which goes on the table saw (here's the instructable on how to build the jig) to attach the front of the drawers together, however there are many ways to do this - you can simply butt joint the pieces together, cut rabbets (which I do in the back), or get fancy with dovetails or something like that. The principle is the same - we need to connect four pieces of wood together to create a box. Then of course we need to install the drawers, and I'm also going to go over how I'm installing them with drawer sliders. Let's get going!
Step 1: Cutting the Box Joints on the Table Saw
I started with cutting up all of the plywood for the drawers, I'm using 3/4 inch plywood. Sizes will obviously vary depending on your project. These drawers are going in my built-in cabinet
I was debating how to connect the drawers together, but then I figured I have the box joint jig I made a few videos back and box joints are strong and perfect for drawers, so I decided to use that. I made 1/2 inch joints, and even though I decided to only do box joints in the fronts of the nine drawers, it was still a lot of box joints to cut!
Step 2: Cutting Rabbets
Next I finalized some of the sizes, and cut a few of the drawers a little shorter so they will fit in the structure well. It's a good idea to remain flexible on size, when you build a built-in then you might need to create certain drawers of a slightly different size to account for molding or other things in the way.
Now, to connect the backs on, I decided to cut rabbets using the router and that basically means I cut out a groove in the back on each side so the back piece can sit flush in the sides. And of course there were quite a few of those to do as well - especially when you're building nine drawers!
Step 3: Groves for the Bottoms
So now all the pieces are cut, and now it's a matter of how to connect the bottom. I decided to cut a groove in all the pieces which the hardboard can slip into. First I made a mark on each of the pieces, which way is down and where a groove should be made. It can get a little confusing with which side is which so I always think it's a good idea to make a lot of marks to be sure.
I used the table saw to create the groves. And I ran them all through twice, about half an inch from the bottom to get the perfect width to fit the hardboard for the bottoms.
Step 4: Assembly
OK, now we're ready for assembly. I simply glued in the box joints, and I made sure to get good glue contact everywhere, connected the pieces together. Then I slipped in the hardboard for the bottom in the groove, made sure everything was lining up right, and then put on the back.
I drilled the backs in from the sides. To connect the box joints properly I'm using clamps to get them to fit in right. You don't really need to keep them clamped up in this case, you just want everything to connect right so there aren't any gaps. Then checking so it's square and it looks good.
Step 5: Sanding & Finishing
And then I sanded each and every box all around to get them nice and smooth.
I decided to clear coat the boxes instead of painting them. I'm going to be adding a face frame to the fronts, and those will be painted, but the drawers themselves will protected with a clear finish.
Step 6: Installing the Drawers
OK, now we're at the point of installing the drawers into the base. First of all I took some measurements and figured out where I wanted each drawer.
I'm going to be using these full extension drawer sliders which are really nice. You take them apart to install them and put one part on the drawer and the other on the base.
So first I'm marking out where on the drawers I want the sliders and then I'm screwing it in on each side. And here you have drawer with both parts of the slide in it, and then you can take off the piece that attaches to the base.
Step 7: Attaching the Slides to the Base
I'm using this drawer slider jig to make it easier to alight the sliders and get everything straight.
You make a mark where you want the bottom of the sliders and then follow that mark to set up the slider right and then install into the base.
It makes it a lot easier to line everything up to make sure everything is square. Then there's just the matter of repeating it on the other side. And there is the first drawer, slides in and out nicely, now only eight more to go!
Step 8: Conclusion - Watch the Video
To get a much better perspective of this process, please check out the video which goes over each step in more detail.
Now the drawers are functioning, however there are a couple of steps left to completely finish them. In my next video I'm going to be completing this project and that's when I will also attach the face frames and the knobs to complete the drawers. In that same video I will also install the built-in cabinet in the room, attach the counter and add all the finishing touches to complete the project. So please stay tuned for that!