Plywood for drawer boxes in vanity - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 07-21-2018, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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Question Plywood for drawer boxes in vanity

My vanity project will have 4 full-width drawers - it's supposed to look like a dresser. I have a low budget and this is my first ever piece of furniture. The plan calls for plywood drawer boxes joined with pocket hole screws and glue. The plywood is half-inch cabinet grade (I'll be painting the whole vanity, but the drawers will be clear poly'd for durability and ease of cleaning). The drawers are all inset with 3/4" plywood fronts with a 1/8" beaded edge band made of pine all around the edge of the drawer front.

I'm not too concerned with making the drawer box sides and joining them together. It's the drawer bottoms that have me fretting. Because of the width and depth for the drawers, I think I should use half-inch plywood drawer bottoms. This would be especially important for the top two drawers because there will be large cutouts where the basin and plumbing are. I think half-inch will provide some needed stiffness.

Can I rabbit the bottoms into the boxes, or should I dado them in? Do I need to allow for expansion/contraction in a plywood bottom that large, or can I glue and finish nail them in? If I use a dado, how deep and how far up from the bottom edge should I go? I hate to lose precious cargo space.

The approximate size of the bottoms is 38x19". Top drawer will be 4.5" deep, next two will be 6.5" deep and the bottom drawer will be 9" deep. Don't know if those dimensions matter, but I thought I'd include it.

Thanks for any guidance.
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post #2 of 12 Old 07-21-2018, 06:34 AM
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I am concerned about that top drawer.



If I read your plan correctly that drawer has no back on it???? Yes? No??


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post #3 of 12 Old 07-21-2018, 06:46 AM
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Instead of rabbeting the drawer bottoms in run a 1/4 dado a half inch up from the bottom and use 1/4" plywood for the bottom. Glue and nail the drawer box together gluing the bottom in the dado. Then because the drawers are large put two or three pieces of hardwood 1/2"x3" from front to back under the drawer bottom to prevent the 1/4" plywood from sagging.
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post #4 of 12 Old 07-21-2018, 10:45 AM
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For a vanity, Steve Neul's plan would be enough strength with the supports glued to the 1/4" plywood bottom.


I made a kitchen island about 10 years ago, the inset drawers were made from 1/2" plywood from big box store. I dadoed the 1/2" plywood bottoms 1/2" from the bottoms without any other support. My drawers are 22" deep x 33" wide. The drawers use 100lb soft close full extension ball bearing slides. One drawer holds about 80 lbs. of silverware and has been used constantly since I built it. There is no sag, and they work the same now as the day I made them. I think, for a kitchen drawer...you could extend the width to 38" but should consider using a single center mounted drawer pull to reduce racking when the drawer is pulled/pushed. On another note I would use conventional methods to make the drawers...Not Pocket Hole assembly.
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Last edited by gmercer_48083; 07-21-2018 at 10:49 AM.
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post #5 of 12 Old 07-21-2018, 12:24 PM
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I pretty much use Baltic Birch plywood for my drawers on just about everything. Always dovetailed as I have the machine for it and it makes assembly a breeze.



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Measure Twice Cut Once -- It's a lot easier to cut more off then it is to cut MORON.
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post #6 of 12 Old 07-21-2018, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
I am concerned about that top drawer.

If I read your plan correctly that drawer has no back on it???? Yes? No??
No... I mean yes... uhhh, it has a back, of course. I should have posted this rudimentary drawing before:
Plywood for drawer boxes in vanity-vanity-drawers.gif

The top drawer compartments are very small because the center-mounted sink basin is large and rectangular. Drawer #2 has a narrow cutout for the plumbing only. All drawers will use 75#, full extension, soft close slides by Richlieu.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
Instead of rabbeting the drawer bottoms in run a 1/4 dado a half inch up from the bottom and use 1/4" plywood for the bottom. Glue and nail the drawer box together gluing the bottom in the dado. Then because the drawers are large put two or three pieces of hardwood 1/2"x3" from front to back under the drawer bottom to prevent the 1/4" plywood from sagging.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gmercer_48083 View Post
For a vanity, Steve Neul's plan would be enough strength with the supports glued to the 1/4" plywood bottom.
Wouldn't 1/2" plywood bottoms be strong enough for vanity use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmercer_48083
I made a kitchen island about 10 years ago, the inset drawers were made from 1/2" plywood from big box store. I dadoed the 1/2" plywood bottoms 1/2" from the bottoms without any other support. My drawers are 22" deep x 33" wide. The drawers use 100lb soft close full extension ball bearing slides.
My vanity drawers will be only a little wider and not as deep, so I am confident the bottom 2 drawers will work just fine. Maybe the top 2 will also?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmercer_48083
On another note I would use conventional methods to make the drawers...Not Pocket Hole assembly.
Purist!

Thanks everyone for helping me with my project.

Last edited by Other Foot; 07-21-2018 at 01:21 PM.
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post #7 of 12 Old 07-21-2018, 04:48 PM
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Yes 1/2" thick plywood drawer bottoms would work. It's just an unnecessary expense both monetary and weight when a 1/4" drawer bottom would work. Most of us are overrun with scrap wood which could be used for the re-enforcing pieces under the drawer bottom. I normally will re-enforce any drawer that is over 16" wide.
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post #8 of 12 Old 07-21-2018, 04:59 PM
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I use 3/8" Baltic Birch for my drawer bottoms now. I can fit it in the dovetail so there is no peek a boo hole and I don't have to rabbet the 1/2" to fit into a smaller than 1/2" slot. I find 3/8" is strong enough for just about anything.
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post #9 of 12 Old 07-21-2018, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
Yes 1/2" thick plywood drawer bottoms would work. It's just an unnecessary expense both monetary and weight when a 1/4" drawer bottom would work. Most of us are overrun with scrap wood which could be used for the re-enforcing pieces under the drawer bottom.
Good. It's not an unnecessary expense for me, since I have the half-inch plywood, but no half-inch hardwood stock, not even scraps.

I do only a few woodworking projects, but I don't have any covered workshop or storage to speak of. I can't protect good wood or panels from the 4-season elements - maybe a tarp here and there, but I never count on much leftover from one project to the next. Even my saws take a beating (they go under a roof, but are still exposed to all the temperature and humidity changes year-round.

If you're not livin' on the edge, you're takin' up too much room.
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post #10 of 12 Old 07-21-2018, 06:22 PM
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There is a reason that commercial vanities do not have a top drawer. Your drawing shows why.


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post #11 of 12 Old 07-21-2018, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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There's always a naysayer.

Some vanities do have a top drawer. Some tilt out, some pull out. One of the reasons that commercial vanities do not have a top drawer is NOT because they never work.

One of the many reasons I didn't buy a commercial vanity is because I wanted something different. My vanity is different. It might not work as planned, but I will deal with that when and if the problem arises. I want to make an effort to make it a real top drawer vanity, if you know what I mean.
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post #12 of 12 Old 07-27-2018, 12:23 PM
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I did a top drawer on mine. I used 3/4" birch for the boxes and 3/4" ply for the bottom. I doweled the back of the drawer. Shaped to be the maximum size that the plumbing allows. Key for me is that the sides be large enough to hold rolls of toilet paper. I wanted that stored in the top drawer for easy access when on the can.

I originally made these from melamine laminated 3/4" particle board. A water leak destroyed those drawers. The replacements were made from poplar and maple veneered plywood.
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