If you are looking for a simple way of building a drawer, look no further. After searching the entire Internet (mild exaggeration) I saw no tutorials out there that were simple enough for me to tackle. By “simple” I mean “for dummies”. Once I start seeing words like rabbet (rabbit?) locks, dove tails, dados, etc…you’ve lost my attention. After hopeless searching I asked myself: How can I build a drawer box using the tools and skills I have NOW?.
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Building a Drawer for Dummies (like me!)
I actually appreciate the plethora of ways of building a drawer and —-someday—- I intend to explore them all.
But not today my friends.
This was my FIRST attempt at building a drawer box and I wasn’t going to complicate things. When I built my simple office desk last year, I chickened out of building the pencil drawer and bought one on Amazon. I don’t regret it one bit, but now that I’m building my son’s desk, I decided it was time to face my drawer demons.
Before I go on with the tutorial. A quick disclaimer.
***This tutorial is for a drawer BOX. Meaning, once it’s built, you have to put a face on it. This is the most forgiving type of drawer. The face will cover up any boo boos.***
Perfect. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
Materials Needed for Building a Drawer Box
- 1/4″ Plywood cut to size. This will be the bottom of your drawer. Mine was 18″x24″.
- 1×3 boards for the front and sides. I splurged and got poplar because the boards were straighter. My cuts were two- 18″ pieces for the sides and two 22-3/8″ pieces for the front and back pieces.
- Wood Glue
- 1-1/4″ wood screws
- Square tool
STEP 1: Cut Plywood to Size
Cut the 1/4″ Plywood to size. You can have all of your cuts done at the store to make this project even easier. Make sure the piece is square. This will be the bottom of your drawer. I cut mine 18″ x 24″.
STEP 2: Cut and Attach Sides
After the plywood is cut, cut the 1×3″s to size. I started with the side pieces and cut two at 18″ (same length as the sides of the plywood). Then I applied wood glue at the seams and placed the two pieces right on top of the plywood, flush with edges, and clamped them in place for 20 minutes. I used the square to make sure the boards were placed nice and straight.
STEP 3: Cut and Attach Front and Back
Measure and cut the front and back pieces and cut to size to be more precise. My 1×3″ pieces for the front and back were 22-3/8″. I applied wood glue and clamped, just like I did with the sides. Again, make sure everything is square.
STEP 4: Drill from the bottom
After the glue is dry, drill 1-1/4″ wood screws from the bottom. Can it get any easier??
STEP 5: Sand around the edges of the plywood (if needed)
After I finished I noticed the plywood was sticking out the bottom a teeny-tiny bit on the front side. I used my cordless sander to sand it down and make it flush with the 1×3’s. This is important because if it isn’t flush, the drawer face won’t fit flat on the front.
PS..I might have found this out the hard way and had to…ahem…remove the drawer face and sand. #learnfrommymistakes
STEP 6: Attach drawer box to your project
This simple drawer box can be used for anything from desks, nightstands, console tables etc…as long as you attach a drawer face that is wide enough to cover the entire front. I used a 1×5″ for the drawer face on my son’s desk (not pictured). These are the drawer slides I used. You can see more details about attaching them here.
In the mean time! Go build yourself a drawer, the EASY, sawdust sister way!
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Janice Thomas writes detailed tutorials for novice woodworkers and DIYers. She also works as a university professor in the health care industry. Have a question for Janice? Feel free to send her a message here!