Introduction: How to Make Dead Simple Drawers - No Nails and No Screws

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In this video I show you how to make dead simple drawers that do not require any nails or screws. All you need for these builds is your table saw, a dado stack, clamps and glue. I've always enjoyed making drawers this way and I'm happy to share the process with you.

I'll be honest, these cuts are hard to explain so please watch the attached video and refer to the attached photos for clarification. Also, don't be afraid to leave a question in the comments section. Ill try my best to answer them all.

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Step 1: Install Dado Stack Blade and Temporary Fence

First thing you need to do is prepare your table saw for these cuts. I like to clamp a board that's at least 6" wide to my table saw fence. This will make your fence taller and will assist in making one of the cuts in this build much safer. I just used regalar F style clamps but if you're going to use a set up like these often then I would recommend cutting some sliding dovetail grooves in the backside of this board and using dovetail clamps to clamp it to the fence. These clamps slide into the grooves and leave you a nice clamp free face to cut on. But, for a matter of simplicity I'm just using the regular clamps.

Next, you will want to install a dado stack wide enough to cut a dado for 1/4" plywood to slide easily through. For my dado stack that just requires the two outer blades but for others you might have to add a few shims for the correct width.

If you don't have a dado stack or would like to learn more about them and how to set them up then click here for a full step by step video all about dado stacks.

Step 2: Set Your Table Saw Fence and Blade Height

Once your saw is ready to go then set the fence 1/4" from the blade and blade height at 1/4" high. This method of making drawers is commonly referred to as the Quarter, Quarter, Quarter (QQQ) method. It is credited to a woodworker named Steve Phipps, a woodworker that is way smarter than I am. The reason its called this is because the blade is 1/4" wide, a 1/4" high, and 1/4" from the fence.

Step 3: Cut a 1/4" Dado on Each Piece

For each drawer you will need a front and back, which will be the same length as each other. You will also need two sides, which will also be the same length. All four boards should be the same width. The length and width of the boards will be determined by the size of drawers that you are needing for your cabinet.

The first thing you're going to do is cut a 1/4" dado down the long edge of each one of the boards. This cut will be along the side that you determine to be the bottom side of the board and once the drawer is assembled the dado will accept the drawer bottom.

Step 4: Cut 1/4" Dado on Side Pieces to Accept Rabbet

Next, cut a dado along both short sides of the side boards making sure that the end of the board is up against the fence. Use your miter gauge to make this cut more accurate and safe. This dado will accept the rabbet on the front and back boards that you will cut in the next step. Now, the side boards are completed so you can set those aside.

Step 5: Cut the 1/4" Rabbet on the Front and Back Boards

These last few cuts is where that taller fence will make a difference. These rabbets will be cut into the short edges of the front and back boards. Place the face of the board, that has the dado you cut in the first step, against the fence with the short edge of the board against the table saw bed. Keeping your fingers a safe distance from the blade make the 1/4" rabbet cut on both short sides of the board.

This cut is not the easiest cut for me to explain so please refer to the photos and the Youtube video attached to this tutorial for a better explanation.

Step 6: Dry Fit the Drawer

To ensure that you have made all the cuts correctly it's important to dry-fit the drawer before final assembly. The joints should fit together snug but should not require an abnormal amount of force to snap together. This joint seems simple but once its assembled you can see why its such a strong and perfect joint for a drawer.

Step 7: Measure and Cut the Drawer Bottom

Once the drawer is dry assembled, make sure that it is square, and then measure the inside length and width of the drawer. Make sure to add 1/2" to the length and width measurement so that the bottom will extend into the 1/4" dados. I will actually make this cut slightly under my final measurement to insure that the bottom slides easily into place during assembly.

Step 8: Final Assembly

For final assembly just apply wood glue to the dados and assemble three of the sides. I do not apply glue in the dado that accepts the drawer bottom to allow the drawer bottom to float for seasonal expansion and contraction of the wood. You can now slide the bottom into the dado and then attach the fourth and final side. Once all for sides are in place you only have to use a few clamps on the short sides of the drawer. Because of the way the rabbets fit into the dados you do not need clamps on the long sides of the drawer. IF and only IF you want to, you can add some nails with your nailer into the end grain of the side boards. This will hold the drawers together while the glue dries and allows you to go ahead and remove your clamps. This works great if you do not have a lot of clamps to do several drawers at once. These nails are not needed though and the drawer will be just as strong with only glue.

With this the drawers are completed!

Thanks for reading!

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