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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 10:12 AM Thread Starter
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Default drawer from plywood

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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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 10:40 AM
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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.

James
Whittier, CA.

Have a nice & safe day!

Last edited by jlord; 01-12-2012 at 10:42 AM.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 12:25 PM
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Welcome along, I 2nd the Baltic Birch if using plywood

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 04:34 PM
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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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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 07:38 PM
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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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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 08:18 PM
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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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Originally Posted by arkansasdutchman View Post
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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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 08:32 PM
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I suggest practicing and lots of it before buying the balic birch
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 10:50 AM
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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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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 11:14 AM
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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.

James
Whittier, CA.

Have a nice & safe day!

Last edited by jlord; 01-13-2012 at 11:17 AM.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 11:14 AM
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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.
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