Dovetail For Heavy Loads - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 04-03-2019, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Dovetail For Heavy Loads

I am extremely new here and to woodworking. I am in the planning stages of a project that will require drawers that will most likely be under heavy load. I plan on using a pretty hefty slide to help manage the load and keep the drawers moving with ease. My question is will a dovetail joint be hearty enough to keep things together with weight adding up. I'm estimating a few hundred lbs distributed over about a 20" wide and 40"-50" deep drawer. Now a few hundred lbs is my top end estimate, realistically it may contain 75-100lbs on average but being a guy I know I will most likely cram whatever will fit with disregard to weight until I eventually regret doing so. So I figure lets plan for my own stupidity. Thanks for any expertise you can afford!
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post #2 of 15 Old 04-03-2019, 12:22 PM
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I would think that the dovetails are more than adequate since they are holding the sides/front/back together. Dovetails are extremely strong when cut accurately. My concern would be ensuring that the bottom is strong enough. You will probably need to add supports underneath for such a large drawer bottom.

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post #3 of 15 Old 04-03-2019, 12:27 PM
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I would say dovetails would be as strong as needed until the wood breaks. I think your bigger concern would be how to control the sagging of the drawer bottom and how the drawer bottom will attach to the sides/front/rear. Drawer slide selection and how they mount (screws) and drawer thickness also should be considered. I am sure others will chime in.
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post #4 of 15 Old 04-03-2019, 02:33 PM
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Something to consider:
That is a deep drawer, when fully opened there will be a lot of leverage on any type of slide if it is loaded with a hundred or more pounds. The higher drawers will also want to tip the entire structure when they are extended. Building sturdy enough drawers sounds like the least of your problems.
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post #5 of 15 Old 04-03-2019, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
Something to consider:
That is a deep drawer, when fully opened there will be a lot of leverage on any type of slide if it is loaded with a hundred or more pounds. The higher drawers will also want to tip the entire structure when they are extended. Building sturdy enough drawers sounds like the least of your problems.
These drawers will be secured to the structure through the bottom and will only be one level high. As far as the slides being a concern I still worry about that myself. There are some pretty hefty slides on the market for the right price but could I remedy some of the strain by limiting the drawers from opening the full distance? Maybe leave 12" or so within the box when fully opened?
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post #6 of 15 Old 04-03-2019, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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What I meant by these drawers will be secured to the structure is the drawer unit its self will be secured to the structure that it will be sitting on. So the box that the drawer will slide into will be bolted to its holding structure. I wanted to make sure I clarified that accurately. Sorry.
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post #7 of 15 Old 04-03-2019, 03:49 PM
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Is it possible to put a castor under the front of the drawer like you see on filing cabinets for under desks?
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post #8 of 15 Old 04-03-2019, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
Is it possible to put a castor under the front of the drawer like you see on filing cabinets for under desks?
Yes. Although it wouldnt be in contact with the structure it sits on for the full length of the open drawer.
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post #9 of 15 Old 04-04-2019, 01:37 PM
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Yes. Although it wouldnt be in contact with the structure it sits on for the full length of the open drawer.
The castor rolls on the floor along with the drawer.

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post #10 of 15 Old 04-04-2019, 07:23 PM
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Hello Wooddumind,

I'm with Frank on this...

I won't even give to much detail because this sounds like a Heavy Load Drawer system? As such, I would want (need?) to see a schematic, understand the load parameters of the structure it is attached to...wish to know how high off the floor it is...What is the florr made of, and possible how many drawers in the set there are in series. If you could share photos of the space they are going, that would be helpful also.

Again, I agree with Frank. These sound like "caster support drawers" to me...

j
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post #11 of 15 Old 04-05-2019, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jay C. White Cloud View Post
Hello Wooddumind,

I'm with Frank on this...

I won't even give to much detail because this sounds like a Heavy Load Drawer system? As such, I would want (need?) to see a schematic, understand the load parameters of the structure it is attached to...wish to know how high off the floor it is...What is the florr made of, and possible how many drawers in the set there are in series. If you could share photos of the space they are going, that would be helpful also.

Again, I agree with Frank. These sound like "caster support drawers" to me...

j
I am still in the conceptual stage of the project. I plan on spending some time this weekend learning and working with the SketchUp program. If I can get something rudimentary thrown together I will definitely share with you guys. The structure this will be attached to will be a pickup truck bed. The drawers will be about 8-10" high with the aforementioned 20" wide by 40-50" depth. The box itsself will be secured to the bed of the truck. When then drawers are pulled out at full to almost full length the drawer will pass the end of the tailgate which is why the caster idea will probably not work. There will be only one row of drawers. Hopefully this will paint a little better picture but I will try to get some drawings posted soon. There is a lot more going on with this project than just drawers but that is my main concern. If those operate and function as intended the rest should be fairly easy.
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post #12 of 15 Old 04-05-2019, 12:40 PM
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Since these drawers will be in a truck, you will also have problems with moisture and swelling of the wood when it comes into contact with the moisture. Even if the truck has a cap, the wood drawers will still see wide humidity changes. You will be much better off making or buying drawers made from metal. Aluminum doesn't rust, but costs a bit more. Then there is the difficulty of working with metal, if you don't have the tools for it. There are companies that make metal drawers for trucks. Not cheap, but they will last the life of the truck. I think your wood version will be a lot of time and trouble to make and it won't likely last more than a few years at best. Here is a link to some made from metal. A Google search should find many more sources.

https://www.homedepot.com/b/Automoti...vZc23lZ1z10357

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post #13 of 15 Old 04-05-2019, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodumind View Post
I am extremely new here and to woodworking. I am in the planning stages of a project that will require drawers that will most likely be under heavy load. I plan on using a pretty hefty slide to help manage the load and keep the drawers moving with ease. My question is will a dovetail joint be hearty enough to keep things together with weight adding up. I'm estimating a few hundred lbs distributed over about a 20" wide and 40"-50" deep drawer. Now a few hundred lbs is my top end estimate, realistically it may contain 75-100lbs on average but being a guy I know I will most likely cram whatever will fit with disregard to weight until I eventually regret doing so. So I figure lets plan for my own stupidity. Thanks for any expertise you can afford!
There is strength from the hand cut dovetail joints but the modern dovetail joint you do with a router is mainly for show. They have less strength than a butt joint with glue and nails. Under stress the tailboard on those have a tendency of breaking off. Then you end up having to either replace the part or use screws. With a butt joint some epoxy and a couple nails and the drawer is fixed. When I had an antique repair shop 9 out of 10 drawers that needed repair were drawers done with the machine cut dovetail joints.
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post #14 of 15 Old 04-05-2019, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodumind View Post
...I am still in the conceptual stage of the project. I plan on spending some time this weekend learning and working with the SketchUp program. If I can get something rudimentary thrown together I will definitely share with you guys...
Hi Woodumind,

Sound like a good plan...I will follow along and help where I can...

You should have not issue with getting a basic plan pulled together with SketchUp. I use the Professional Version almost daily in my work and its a great program even in its "free version," to get basic designs worked out. I look forward to what you come up with. Note, if you get "stuck" on anything with SketchUp, there are some great tutorials out there on the web...

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodumind View Post
...The structure this will be attached to will be a pickup truck bed. The drawers will be about 8-10" high with the aforementioned 20" wide by 40-50" depth. The box itsself will be secured to the bed of the truck. When then drawers are pulled out at full to almost full length the drawer will pass the end of the tailgate which is why the caster idea will probably not work...
That makes it a bit more of a challenge being in the bed of a truck...but doable I think? There is only two viable (good) choices (that I know of???) for the kind of weights you wish to place in these drawers.

A commercial (or custom?) side rail support designed for such loads...or...a caster wheel system set back to take the load but not roll further than their support foundation of the truck bed. I've seen DIYer versions of these in several iterations.

I will look forward to seeing your solution to this challenge...It sounds very interesting for sure...

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodumind View Post
...There will be only one row of drawers. Hopefully this will paint a little better picture but I will try to get some drawings posted soon. There is a lot more going on with this project than just drawers but that is my main concern. If those operate and function as intended the rest should be fairly easy ...
If I may ask, is there a reason you are not going with a commercially rated heavy duty draw slide system?

It may (?) make the rest of your designing go easier for you perhaps...

Good Luck!!!
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post #15 of 15 Old 04-06-2019, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay C. White Cloud View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by woodumind View Post
...I am still in the conceptual stage of the project. I plan on spending some time this weekend learning and working with the SketchUp program. If I can get something rudimentary thrown together I will definitely share with you guys...
Hi Woodumind,

Sound like a good plan...I will follow along and help where I can...

You should have not issue with getting a basic plan pulled together with SketchUp. I use the Professional Version almost daily in my work and its a great program even in its "free version," to get basic designs worked out. I look forward to what you come up with. Note, if you get "stuck" on anything with SketchUp, there are some great tutorials out there on the web...

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodumind View Post
...The structure this will be attached to will be a pickup truck bed. The drawers will be about 8-10" high with the aforementioned 20" wide by 40-50" depth. The box itsself will be secured to the bed of the truck. When then drawers are pulled out at full to almost full length the drawer will pass the end of the tailgate which is why the caster idea will probably not work...
That makes it a bit more of a challenge being in the bed of a truck...but doable I think? There is only two viable (good) choices (that I know of???) for the kind of weights you wish to place in these drawers.

A commercial (or custom?) side rail support designed for such loads...or...a caster wheel system set back to take the load but not roll further than their support foundation of the truck bed. I've seen DIYer versions of these in several iterations.

I will look forward to seeing your solution to this challenge...It sounds very interesting for sure...

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodumind View Post
...There will be only one row of drawers. Hopefully this will paint a little better picture but I will try to get some drawings posted soon. There is a lot more going on with this project than just drawers but that is my main concern. If those operate and function as intended the rest should be fairly easy ...
If I may ask, is there a reason you are not going with a commercially rated heavy duty draw slide system?

It may (?) make the rest of your designing go easier for you perhaps...[IMG class=inlineimg]https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/images/smilies/smile.png[/IMG]

Good Luck!!!
I have researched this plan for about a year. I have looked at almost every option available. For anyone that is familiar with the overlanding scene my goal is to outfit my truck for off grid camping and mountain biking. While there are plenty of storage solutions on the market for truck bed none of them accomplish what I am trying to create unless I got fully custom. Now while there are companies that would gladly do this for me the cost is just out of my price range and where is the joy in just writing a check when it can be done with your own two hands.

The drawers are probably going to be my biggest challenge but not the most important part of the build. There will be a slide for the mobile fridge and another slide that will hold a carrier for my mountain bike.

I plan on using Accuride slide assemblies for all the drawers and other slide options. While a little pricey they make a vast array of slides that cover many different applications. Locked open, locked closed, crazy lengths and mounting possibilities.

I would love to have an aluminum set up but the price and the fact that I have zero experience with metal working just doesn’t make that seem like a viable plan. Wood is going to be the easiest to work with and in my option if I can do this right it will look even more high end then your standard store bought system. While I understand the limitations of wood I think this is a doable project if I’m willing to plan it out right and use good materials.
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