drawer bottoms & expansion - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 7 Old 01-01-2009, 08:10 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 2
View wellesleyan's Photo Album My Photos
drawer bottoms & expansion

I am making some solid wood drawers, and I have a question about the bottom section. I want the bottoms to be solid wood, not plywood or particle board. I can see a problem with warping and expansion, however. My idea is to glue together 3/8 inch slats to make the bottom sheets, but wonder how to handle expansion due to moisture content with this system. Could I simply put another layer of slats over the top of the first layer, in a north-south direction, so as to inhibit the east-west expansion of that first layer? If two layers are glued in opposite directions, does this make the entire piece free of expansion issues? It seems that it might, because that is how plywood is set up, and I dont think plywood expands very much at all. Can someone tell me if I am on the right track?
wellesleyan is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 7 Old 01-01-2009, 08:36 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: NOT TEXAS!
Posts: 1,237
View BHOFM's Photo Album My Photos
I know you like the idea of "all wood" but I think
that for drawer bottoms, masonite, ply or luan
is the best.

I have seen too many old and beautiful pieces of
furniture with bad drawer bottoms or damaged drawers
due to expansion of the bottom.

I always do a dado around the bottom edges of the
front and sides and have the back come down to the
top of the dado and tack the bottom to the bottom
edge of the back.
If the drawer is very wide I put a cleat across the
If the bottom is damaged or has a spill, it can be
easily replaced.

BTW: these drawers are made from old pallet slates.
the bottom was a spacer in a stack of scaffolding sections.
I had to buy the tacks.

Last edited by BHOFM; 02-21-2009 at 09:17 PM.
BHOFM is offline  
post #3 of 7 Old 01-01-2009, 10:18 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Florida Panhandle
Posts: 12,393
View GeorgeC's Photo Album My Photos
You will not eliminate the expansion and contraction problem by cross planking. In fact you will just add another set of boards that will expand and contract.

I agree with BOHFM. My only difference from his drawer bottoms is that I have an open rabbit into which I tack the bottom
GeorgeC is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #4 of 7 Old 01-01-2009, 10:21 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 373
View jerry's Photo Album My Photos
What you are suggesting is a recipe for disaster, solid wood must have room to expand and contract.
If you insist on using solid wood bottoms they should be tapered on three or four sides and room allowed for expansion.


jerry is offline  
post #5 of 7 Old 01-01-2009, 10:33 AM
Kenbo's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 8,349
View Kenbo's Photo Album My Photos
I have to agree that the bottom should be mdf or the equivelant. Drawers are heavy enough as it is and adding a series of 3/4" thick boards for the bottom just adds more weight. I can understand the feeling of wanting to make something completely out of solid wood, but just because you add another material, it will not take away from the craftmanship that you are putting into it. Look at it this way, if you want to make something completely out of solid wood, and then you add metal drawer pulls, you have now added another material........a functional material that enhances your work. The bottom of a drawer is a functional part of the drawer who's only purpose it is to keep your clothes etc. from stock piling into the drawers below. Unless you intend on keeping the drawers empty and open, it need not have a pretty grain. Wow, I kinda ran off at the mouth on that one.
Don't forget to post pictures of the final piece.
Kenbo is offline  
post #6 of 7 Old 01-01-2009, 02:06 PM
Not so new
12penny's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Lehigh Valley, Pa.
Posts: 150
View 12penny's Photo Album My Photos
I'm with you Welleslyan. Nothing worse than having nice dovetailed drawers, drawers that you spent hours on, getting them to fit just right and then putting luan plywood bottoms in them. Some pieces demand solid bottoms. I make mine of pine or poplar, 1/2" thick, and raise it as you would a panel for a door. 1/4" groove in front, back and sides to accept panel and you're good to go. Make your panel 3/16" narrower to alow for expansion. No need to make it shorter.
12penny is offline  
post #7 of 7 Old 01-01-2009, 02:38 PM
Senior Member
firehawkmph's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Near Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 5,023
View firehawkmph's Photo Album My Photos
Just to add to what 10penny said. I was thinking the same thing as I was reading the initial posts. Just treat the drawer bottom like you would a raised panel in a door frame. Allow some room for expansion. I started using the 1/4" space balls in my raised panel doors just to eliminate any rattling of the panel in the frame. They work great. I used to cut up little pieces of foam weatherstripping before using the space balls. I haven't used solid wood for any drawer bottoms to date, but I could see why you might want to. That is your choice. If I want a nicer looking drawer bottom, I use a piece of veneered plywood, like oak or maple, 1/4 or 3/8" thick, whatever I have lying around.
Mike Hawkins
firehawkmph is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
wood expansion mayday3374 Design & Plans 7 05-02-2008 10:46 AM
Non-flat wooden chair leg bottoms Big Dog Daddy General Woodworking Discussion 15 02-24-2008 06:36 PM
drawer slides hubaseball General Woodworking Discussion 5 02-23-2008 11:28 PM
drawer&doors camelback123 General Woodworking Discussion 4 10-20-2007 02:15 PM
Drawer Slides BULLHART Classifieds 2 10-03-2007 09:24 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome