Plywood Drawers

Dimensional stability is one of the advantages of using plywood for any purpose; unlike solid wood, plywood does not expand or contract with variations in humidity. It is also available in huge sheets of varying thicknesses, removing the need to laminate parts together to form a piece of wood of the desired size and to resaw timber to obtain thinner pieces.

This makes plywood a good alternative for furniture construction, including the construction of drawers for cabinets, dressers, tables, etc. Due to the dimensional stability of plywood, the sides of the drawer will not expand in humid conditions. This expansion might cause the sides to bind in the drawer opening, making the drawer difficult to open. Using plywood for the bottom minimizes side-to-side movement, hence reducing binding of the drawer and its runners.

In addition to these significant benefits, plywood construction minimizes the total amount of labor required. When constructing six drawers for a dresser, this might be crucial and save considerable time.

Properly constructed, the only hardwood component required for the drawer is the face, as plywood will likely not match the wood used for the remainder of the piece of furniture, even if it is the same sort of wood. Finally, construction using plywood is substantially less expensive than with hardwood. Even when utilizing hardwood plywood, just the face veneer is made of hardwood, reducing the expense of using solid hardwood throughout.

Construction of Plywood Drawers

Regardless of style, drawers consist of five parts: the front, rear, bottom, and two sides. Typically, the front is made of solid wood and mirrors the overall aesthetic of the piece being constructed. Even with commercially produced furniture, the back, bottom, and two sides are frequently comprised of plywood.

In the instance of drawers when the drawer front overflows the furniture’s framework, there are technically six elements, however only two are connected as if they were one. These are the structural and decorative drawer fronts, respectively. If a decorative drawer front is utilized, the structural drawer front is likewise made of plywood. In cases when the drawer front is flush with the cabinet frame, the structural drawer front also acts as the ornamental drawer face.

In lieu of this structural drawer front, low-cost furniture may use angle brackets between the drawer sides and the decorative drawer front. A piece of wood placed in the corner can have the same result.

Case Sides

The size of a drawer is mostly dictated by the size of the drawer opening in the cabinet into which it will be installed. This is a pre-project decision. Determining the precise construction method and dimensions of your drawer is part of the design process.

The overall outside dimensions of drawers must always be smaller than the drawer opening, even if it is only 1/16″ smaller. You need a small amount of clearance all the way around to prevent the drawer from sticking. At the same time, you do not want too much room, since this could make it too easy for the drawer to get crooked in the opening and cause jamming.

Drawer runners or slides have a significant impact on drawer size. Single runners, which are mounted under the center of the drawer, will have the least impact because they are mounted under the frame and only protrude slightly into the recess at the bottom of the drawer. Pairs of side-mounted drawer slides can have a larger influence, as the most typical dimension is 1/2 inch. With 12″ thick drawer slides, the drawer must be 1 1/16″ to 1 1/8″ narrower than the aperture. This discrepancy must be factored into the overall size of the drawer as well as the sizes of its constituent components.

As noted previously, the other important design choice is whether the drawer front is flat with the cabinet frame or sits on top of the cabinet frame, overhanging the drawer opening. If it overlaps, it often overlaps between half an inch and three quarters of an inch on either side, albeit not always by the same amount.

Drawer backs and sides are typically not the entire height of the drawer opening, although the structural drawer front will be, minus around 1/16″. Rather, these components are reduced by half an inch to three quarters of an inch to prevent them from interfering with the drawer opening. This is a matter of personal preference, with some preferring shorter sides and backs to avoid binding and others wanting to make them as tall as possible without binding in order to put more in the drawer.

When there are both structural and ornamental drawer fronts, it is usual for the drawer sides to run full depth, overlapping the ends of the structural drawer front and the drawer back. When the ornamental drawer front is also the structural drawer front, the drawer front will overlap the drawer sides to conceal the end grain. On higher-quality furniture, the drawer is assembled using half dovetails.

Some low-cost furniture employs MDF or particle board instead of plywood for drawer construction. MDF is not as robust as plywood and is more difficult to connect together, but it is suitable for most uses. MDF joints will not be as strong as laminated softwood or hardwood plywood joints, and it is extremely difficult to perform effective repairs if they break.

MDF and particleboard are additionally more absorbent. When they absorb water, the pieces swell, particularly at the edges, and their structural integrity is compromised. This can result in many issues, such as drawers sticking and falling apart.

Bottoms of Drawers

There are two fundamental methods for installing the drawer bottom. As it affects the size of the parts and how they are cut, determining how to mount the bottom is a crucial aspect of the drawer design process.

The easiest way to install a drawer bottom is to cut a rabbet in the bottom edge of all the drawer pieces to accommodate the plywood bottom. The drawer bottom is then hammered into place within this rabbet. This approach is less secure and leaves no room for the wood to expand.

Knowing the size of the drawer opening and accessible depth is the first step in determining the part’s dimensions. In other instances, shorter drawer slides are utilized, and the drawers do not extend to the entire depth of the cabinet. A great deal depends on the drawer slides chosen.

Putting Together the Drawer

There are numerous methods for attaching the drawer sides to the front and rear panels. Using a basic butt joint is the simplest way to connect the sides to the rear and front. However, this simplicity comes at a price; the joint is prone to separation and cannot withstand heavy use.

This can be enhanced by employing a rabbet joint instead of a butt joint. This junction includes cutting a rabbet in the sides of the front and back parts (equivalent to the thickness of the side pieces) and inserting the side pieces into this rabbet. The advantages of this joint include the opportunity to use mechanical fasteners to enhance the bond between the side pieces and the front/back parts. However, the glue will attempt to adhere to the end grain, which does not produce the strongest joints.

Driving a nail or small diameter dowel from the side pieces into the front/back pieces gives great strength to the junction without being evident from the exterior of the component.



Best Wood For Drawer Construction

When it comes to building drawers, woodworkers who are working with pricey, appealing hardwoods are frequently unsure about what to employ. Or, to be more precise, the drawer boxes. Should the drawers’ internal sides, backs, and bottoms be made of the same wood as the drawers’ faces and the rest of the cabinet? After all, when the drawer is opened, the drawer sides will have a uniform appearance, precisely matching the drawer face. The benefits of creating drawers this manner, however, may be overshadowed by the advantages of utilizing other wood.

Think about the price.

Cherry and fine maple are pricey hardwoods. The extra expense of building solid-cherry drawers may add up to hundreds of dollars on a large project like a full-wall entertainment cabinet. Unless you like to leave the drawers open for whatever reason, using a less expensive but equally good wood won’t change the aesthetic of the finished item.

Take into account compatibility.

Plywood bottoms are common in drawer boxes, especially those constructed by hand. This is due to plywood’s flatness, strength, and dimensional stability (it expands and contracts much less than solid wood). Cutting a single piece of plywood to fit a drawer box is also considerably easier than gluing up a lot of hardwood planks. Most drawers are 1/4 inch thick plywood, although larger drawers might be 1/2 inch thick. These materials are available in a variety of hardwoods, allowing you to match one or both of the exterior veneers to your drawer boxes and/or fronts. However, veneer plywood is not available in all wood species. If you can’t find plywood that matches or compliments your drawer box material, you’ll have to make the bottoms out of stock. That is an extremely time-consuming task.

What’s the Point of Being Matchy-Matchy?

Using a contrasting wood for the drawer sides isn’t a bad idea. In fact, this could be a stylistic plus. Combining a dark hardwood front with a lighter-colored wood like poplar for the drawer box, for example, may really bring the joinery and craftsmanship to life. Half-blind dovetails, for example, look great with contrasting wood hues.

With Poplar, You Can’t Go Wrong

Poplar is an excellent choice for drawer box construction in general. It is more stable, durable, and affordable than other hardwoods. Poplar heartwood varies in color from creamy white to yellowish tan to brown. It has a straight, homogeneous grain and is very easy to work with. Poplar’s overall appearance works well with birch plywood, which is a great choice for drawer bottoms.

Bottoms of Drawer Boxes are made of wood.

If you’re going to use plywood for the drawer bottoms, true hardwood plywood, which is constructed entirely of thin plies of actual hardwood, will give you the best results. Even though the exterior veneers are hardwood, traditional plywood has softwood inner plies. In general, panels with more, thinner plies are stronger and flatter. Baltic birch plywood, a real hardwood plywood available in 60 by 60-inch sheets and various cut sizes, is the best choice for birch plywood.



Drawer Construction Wood Options

Hardwoods like cherry or fine maple are expensive. On a big project like a full-wall entertainment center, the added cost of building solid-cherry drawers could add up to hundreds of extra dollars. Using a less expensive, but equally suitable, wood is a smart way to go. 


Plywood for most drawers is 1/4 inch thick but can be 1/2 inch thick on large drawers. You can find these materials in many different types of hardwood so that one or both of the outer veneers can match your drawer boxes and/or fronts. However, not all wood species are available in veneer plywood.


 For example, combining a dark hardwood front with a lighter-colored wood like poplar for the drawer box can really highlight the joinery and workmanship. Contrasting wood colors look particularly good with joints like half-blind dovetails.

Drawer Bottom Boxes

Real hardwood plywood, which is made entirely with thin plies of real hardwood. Conventional plywood has inner plies of various softwoods, even if the outer veneers are hardwood. In general, more, thinner plies make for stronger, flatter panels. For birch plywood, you can’t go wrong with Baltic birch as a choice.



Pros and Cons of Drawer Slides

1. Wooden Slides

Conventionally, drawers usually slide on wooden runners; strips of wood interlocked into horizontal rails at the cabinet’s face. In cases where a drawer won’t be guided by the sides of a cabinet — for instance, when the cabinet’s face frame extends into the drawers opening — the runners are equipped with leads to stop the drawers from sliding to the right or left and binding when they are closed.

Qualities of wooden runners

  • They work terrifically when the drawers fit well. With fine furniture, they are the benchmark, not because it takes skill to make drawers snugly fit but not so snug that it is hard to open and close.
  • They don’t need additional monetary investment outside of your labor, while mechanical slides will cost installers.
  • They enable your drawer’s front to function as a completed face; no additional face needs to be applied.
  • They allow the joinery and drawer sides beam without interference by metal equipment.

However, wooden drawer slides are far from ideal in many respects.

  • They do not allow to fully extend: When installers pull the drawer out to a specific point, it can sag and maybe even fall out of the opening.
  • Well-fitting drawers can stick in locales where humidity deviates considerably from season to season.

For a while now, cabinetmakers have mechanical slide hardware accessible to them, the features that have improved gradually. Nowadays there’s a crazy amount of options provided by many manufacturers such as Blum, Accuride, Knape & Vogt, and more.

Mechanical slides have a couple of benefits over conventional wooden runners, even if they don’t have the pristine that comes with piston fit drawers. They are quiet, run smooth, and enables installers to pull a drawer fully out without risk of it tipping its contents all over, or even worse, falling totally out and getting damaged.

2. Side Mounted Ball Bearing Slides

Side mount ball bearing slides like those manufactured by Accuride are budget-friendly, reliable, and durable. They come with a large variety of optional features, among them a decent; extra-heavy load capabilities; specialty slides for file-type drawers, lateral files, etc.

They are extremely easy to install— installers can install them just about anywhere installers want, mounting the supports to the cabinet sides or using mounting brackets to attach hardware to the front and back of the cabinet— and only impose one restriction on the dimensions of the drawer: The width of the drawer is required to be at or just a little under the specific width between the slides once they have been installed. Outside of this, installers could use these slides on drawers that are more deep or narrower than the slides, conditional on its application. The matter of how the drawer bottom fits into the drawer is of no concern — even it’s even at the bottom surfaces, fitted into slips, or sliding into slots in the drawer’s front and sides. While this adjustability might not sound so impressive in theory, it may be a life saver in uncommon situations where installers need the combination of budget friendly price, fully extendibility and adjustability in drawer design that likewise hardware might allow.

These types of slides enable the drawer to be removed easily by disengaging its lever. In replacing the drawer, slide it diligently into position — if the parts aren’t aligned correctly, it may damage the slides – -then push until there is a click. Then pull it out and close it all the way to check the fitting.

Adjustability: Prior to installers installing the set screws, the slides can be adjusted up and down additionally to forward and backward positions thanks to grooves on each piece: the piece that goes on the drawer and the piece that goes into the cabinet. Many drawers can also be equipped with screwdriver adjustable cams.

3. Undermounted Self-closing Slides

Cabinetmakers are accessible to kinds of slides that mixes full extension and pristine, silent operation with close to complete concealment. The Blum Tandem is the most commonly known type, but when other fabricators saw how favorable new designs were with fabricators and their clients, they started designing their own types based on their concept.

In lieu of the slides being silent, pristine running, fully extended capability, and concealed; when fitted with the correct locking devices they provide a new area in adjustability over previous types of drawer slides hardware. Installers may move the drawer faced up or faced down, forwards or backwards, angle it up or down, or place it side to side; a joy when installers are handling inset drawer faces. However, these components come with many strict specifications:

There are specific dimensional specifications: Drawers need be just the correct width and depth to fit certain slides. These and other requirements are laid out in easy to read guides provided by the hardware fabricators.

There is no way to install the drawer bottoms wherever installers wish. It is required to have a 1/2″ recess enabling the drawer sides and front will be on top of the runners. Along with these specifications, installers are required to drill some holes in the back of the drawer for the mechanism to tilt.

Since the placement of the slide’s hardware is in a fixed position in relation to the drawer’s sides, installers are required to be more precise in the position of the hardware in the cabinet than the installers would do with side mounted ball bearing types. Installers are also required to leave more height space than using side mounted types, which may take up space, depending on other components of the cabinet’s design.

As in the case with the side-mounted types, there will be some of space on the sides of the drawer with undermounted hardware. This clearance comes out to be about 5/16″ on either side. In many cases installers will want to put on a cabinet face.

Drawer Boxes

If you’re looking for the best quality cabinet drawer boxes at the best prices there isn’t a better source than Drawer Connection.  We give you your choice of wood and only source the highest quality raw materials.  All of our fabrication is high precision and made to last.  Whether you’re choosing a solid wood with a dovetail joint or a melamine with a dowel joint, every single drawer box is built to last!

How to Install Bottom-Mount Drawer Slides

Installing Bottom-Mount Drawer Slides

If you are updating your bathroom or retrofitting new cabinetry, deciding on the right drawer slide can be daunting. With so many options to out there; mount, extension type, slide length, limits on weight, and finishes, how do you know which one to choose for your project? In this post we will discuss one of the most popular, bottom mount.

Tools You Will Need:

  • Safety Glasses
  • Saw
  • Screwdriver or Drill
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Level
  • Combination Square


When using with power tools, always wear safety glasses to help protect your eyes from debris.

Why Choose A Bottom Mount Drawer Slide?

Using this mounting method allows you to have your drawers almost the full width of the drawer opening—minus 1⁄8 inch on each side, giving you more storage space than with other types of slides.

Using one slide (around $8 to $20 per pair) in the middle of the drawer keeps hardware costs down.

When you use one slide for each drawer, it reduces the weight-carrying volume to less than half that of a similar drawer that has two slides. (Single bottom-mount slides typically rate for 25-pound volume.) For the mounting screws to take hold, you will need to make your drawer bottoms 1⁄2 inch thick, or possibly add a space if you are using thinner bottoms. A lot of bottom-mount slides are 3⁄8 inch thick but leave 5⁄16 of an inch underneath your drawer bottom for mounting. The additional 1⁄16 inch provides clearance between the sides of the drawer and the face frame after being mounted.

Attach To The Drawer First

  1. For drawers that are inset, align the slide adjacent with the front of the drawer and positioned across its width. If your drawers will have a front overlay, notch the drawer box, so the slide sits adjacent with the drawer boxes front face.

Cut a notch for the slide at a minimum of 1/8 inch wider on each side, to the drawer bottoms depth. Then using a chisel, take out the waste.

  1. Center the slide and fasten it with screws at the back and the front.

With one screw retaining the front of the slide, using a measuring tape, measure from the drawer side to be sure that the slide is parallel and centered.

Add The Cabinet Mount

  1. Install the slide to the front of the face frame, attaching it with one screw. For drawers that are inset, first, attach a mounting block 3⁄4 inch thick inside the face frame in which you can screw the slide.

Be sure to mount the slide 1/32 inch back from the front of the face frame. You may need to angle the screw a little bit to keep clear of the above frame.

    1. Attach the slide to the back of the cabinet using a mounting bracket, make sure it’s square to the face frame. If your cabinets have a dust frame, you can mount the slide to it rather than the back.
    2. To aid in supporting the drawer, add self-adhesive or nail-in glide pads to the face frame where the drawer-side bottom edges are allowed to pass.

Glide Pads

Glide pads not only stop the drawer from rocking on an individual slide, but they also make drawer operation smoother.

Nationwide Drawer Slide Supplier

If you have broken drawer slides, or are maybe starting a new cabinetry project, or are just remodeling your kitchen or office, Drawer Connection has the widest selection of drawer slides in Phoenix. We have soft close, push to open, self-close, and many more quality options that keep your drawers opening and closing smoothly. Visit our site to get started or call us today at 877-917-4887.