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I am a new woodworker (old guy just getting around to it) and I have a cheap chest of drawers that the case is ok but he drawers are shot. My plan is to use plywood to make the sides and back. I think I can salvage the drawer fronts. I have a new dovetail jig and want to use it on this project. What do you recommend for the drawer sides and back? Material? Thickness? Again I am using this as a learning experience so I plan to trash some wood along the way.
 

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I am a new woodworker (old guy just getting around to it) and I have a cheap chest of drawers that the case is ok but he drawers are shot. My plan is to use plywood to make the sides and back. I think I can salvage the drawer fronts. I have a new dovetail jig and want to use it on this project. What do you recommend for the drawer sides and back? Material? Thickness? Again I am using this as a learning experience so I plan to trash some wood along the way.
Welcome Bill.
Since you want plywood for your drawer material I would use Baltic Birch. Especially since you want to use your dovetail jig as it doesn't have any voids in the material like the 1/2" ply you get at a Home Depot type store. You can find this at a hardwoods supplier. I would machine a Half-Blind Dovetail for the joints on your drawer box. I would prefer to use 5/8" material but you can use 1/2". Thicker drawer material such as 3/4" is better for a very large drawer to filled with heavy items such as a larger pot drawer. Staying with 1/2" - 5/8" material is all you need for a dresser. If you decide to use the cheap stuff at the home centers I would consider another type of joint for the drawers. It doesn't look good dovetailed with the voids in the joint.
 

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Welcome along, I 2nd the Baltic Birch if using plywood
 

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Yep, +1 on the Baltic Birch. I did the same thing with a dresser that I've had since I was a kid--I built new drawers and remove the old drawer fronts to re-use. I used the "cabinet grade" plywood and drawer slides at Home Depot. What a waste of money and time that was! The drawers warped just slightly, but enough to bind up the drawer slides (which are cheap copies of Accuride slides--next time I'll go with Accuride or Blum and skip the cheap Chinese imports.)

tl;dr: don't skimp on materials--get genuine Baltic Birch plywood and name-brand slides.
 

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G’day

Welcome to the router forum.

Thank you for joining us, Bill.

I also agree with James if you do not want to use 1/2" solid lumber.
 

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HI Bill

This is what I would do..
Make a new some boxes to fit the holes in the old cabinet with some real wood you can get anywhere then take off the fronts off the old drawers and screw them on the front of your new boxes you made with your new dovetail machine...

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I am a new woodworker (old guy just getting around to it) and I have a cheap chest of drawers that the case is ok but he drawers are shot. My plan is to use plywood to make the sides and back. I think I can salvage the drawer fronts. I have a new dovetail jig and want to use it on this project. What do you recommend for the drawer sides and back? Material? Thickness? Again I am using this as a learning experience so I plan to trash some wood along the way.
 

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Baltic birch is pretty and pretty darn expensive for drawer cases. Most cabinet shops use poplar for the "box" and save the high dollar stuff for the face of the drawer. I second using the existing front and making a new case. I use 1/2 or 3/4 poplar for the cases with 1/4" ply for the bottom. A drawer lock router bit makes the best joints for drawers (and you can justify a new bit). Dado a loose slot for the bottom to fit into. This allows for expansion. Google drawer construction for guidelines.
 

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Baltic birch is pretty and pretty darn expensive for drawer cases. Most cabinet shops use poplar for the "box" and save the high dollar stuff for the face of the drawer. I second using the existing front and making a new case. I use 1/2 or 3/4 poplar for the cases with 1/4" ply for the bottom. A drawer lock router bit makes the best joints for drawers (and you can justify a new bit). Dado a loose slot for the bottom to fit into. This allows for expansion. Google drawer construction for guidelines.
He has a new dovetail jig he wants to use on this project. Some cabinet shops use poplar for boxes & it's not a bad choice, but some don't like the green tint that's usually associated with it. He mentioned plywood & even though it's more expensive, Baltic Burch ply or Apple Ply would give best results when dovetailed. The cheaper stuff if used will more likely have voids in the material which could cause blowouts while dovetailing.

I'll agree a drawer lock bit with plywood box is the way I would go. For Half-Blind dovetails in drawer boxes I prefer hardwood like Hard Maple. I would stick with 1/2" to 5/8" material with the 1/4" bottoms for a dresser. If using a 1/4" plywood bottom you can glue it in as expansion is not a problem.
 

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+1 on paduke's sage advice. A suggestion, take apart the old drawers and practice making dovetail joints with the old material until you use your expensive baltic birch.
Welcome to routerforums!
 

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I am a new woodworker (old guy just getting around to it) and I have a cheap chest of drawers that the case is ok but he drawers are shot. My plan is to use plywood to make the sides and back. I think I can salvage the drawer fronts. I have a new dovetail jig and want to use it on this project. What do you recommend for the drawer sides and back? Material? Thickness? Again I am using this as a learning experience so I plan to trash some wood along the way.
Which Dovetail jig do you have?
 

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Lights came on

+1 on paduke's sage advice. A suggestion, take apart the old drawers and practice making dovetail joints with the old material until you use your expensive baltic birch.
Welcome to routerforums!

What a great idea! I can use material from the large drawers to fix the smaller drawers! That way I by less material! This piece of furniture is really not worth adding any quality wood to it, it is pine and in bad shape. I plan on giving it to a three year old grandson and I am sure it will get the stuffing knocked out of it. I make him something nice when he gets a bit older.

Super advice
 

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Well then just buy cheap 1/2" ply cut your four sides to fit then just glue & brad nail the bottoms on. It will also square it up. Then add cheap slides. Being glued they will last a long time. Simple, quick, & cheap. Then get some mdf & practice with your dovetail jig.

Here's some simple drawers I made for my lathe cabinet from scraps I had around the shop from other projects. These are 1/2" sides & bottom with a 3/4" front. You can adapt the same principle to yours.
 

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Personally, I prefer using poplar for drawers. Too much chip-out with ply.
I use a locking rabbet joint to build them.
Personally I agree with you Mike. For plywood drawers I prefer to use a drawer lock bit for the joinery. I use half-blind dovetails for the solid hardwoods. Now for shop drawers I can be a little more forgiving as long as they don't fall apart.
 

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JLord,

Missed the part about already having the dovetail bit. Good bit but takes some practice to get a good joint. On the question of Poplar and the green patina, you are right if you buy your stock from the local big box store. Most suppliers to cabinet shop would be shipping steamed poplar which tends to even the color out to a nice milky white. Poplar, with some shop tricks, can also be used to mimic most other woods. A lot of shops will use poplar, properly stained, as a substitute on lower priced items. I used to get a lot of cabinet grade plywood cut offs from a local cabinet shop for craft items. That might be a good source for some "practice wood" for him before he tries to machine baltic birch. p.s. I personally like the patina of the green on white of poplar. Prettiest coopered top chest I've ever seen was made that way.
 
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