using plywood for dovetailed drawers - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 07-06-2014, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
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using plywood for dovetailed drawers

I tried using 1/2" birch plywood in a dovetail jig. It delaminated and chipped badly. I hear a lot about using Baltic plywood for drawers. Is this the only plywood that dovetails well, or will other hardwood veneered plywood such as oak dovetail without a lot of chipping? Any suggestions' or tips to stop the chipping would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 29 Old 07-06-2014, 04:12 AM
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Think it depends more how you're trying to cut the dovetails. By the sound of it, you're using a router, and routers and plywood, its going to chip, just the nature of the beast. I don't believe and one ply over the other will help you too much there. Stopping the chipout you could try pre-scoring the cut lines, packing tape over the cut area, clamping a backer board to the beast, but honestly I would have high hopes with any of those. Depending how many you have, a backsaw and chisel may be the best way
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post #3 of 29 Old 07-06-2014, 07:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjchuck View Post
I tried using 1/2" birch plywood in a dovetail jig. It delaminated and chipped badly. I hear a lot about using Baltic plywood for drawers. Is this the only plywood that dovetails well, or will other hardwood veneered plywood such as oak dovetail without a lot of chipping? Any suggestions' or tips to stop the chipping would be appreciated.
how many drawers ? just a couple ? i make drawers but out of solid wood and be done, time is money or just a wast of time with tare out , save time and buy solid ? i don't know of a fool proff way , the other post say a way , but no garentee ? lamanated stuff just does that , make sure the bit's are sharp and maybe take a less of a bit into the wood good luck
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post #4 of 29 Old 07-06-2014, 07:51 AM
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I suspect you got the plywood from Home Depot... my experience with their version of birch plywood has been that it doesn't machine worth diddly.
One method I have used, with limited success, is to climb cut, that is, to go right to left across the jig, for a couple of light passes then go through and finish the cut. Takes about a minimum of four passes and then the results are marginal. Trying to do it in one pass almost invariably results in tearout.

John

If I strive for perfection, I can generally achieve good'nuff, If I strive for good'nuff, I generally achieve firewood
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post #5 of 29 Old 07-07-2014, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thank all of you for your input everyone raised some good points. Yes I did buy the plywood at china depot, I am using a router and dovetail jig, and have decided I'm making to many drawers to waist my time with dovetails. A dado and rabbit joint will be good enough for bathroom and laundry room cabinets. I'll save the dovetails for something more deserving. I have found a place to buy quality plywood though, and plan to experiment with it when I get a chance..
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post #6 of 29 Old 07-07-2014, 01:08 PM
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If you have a source for 4/4 rough poplar, you could make your own drawer stock. The pic attached shows drawers made with 5/8 inch stock planed down from 4/4. Lots of waste in the shavings, but the drawers turned out nice. I finished them with Deft Clear Wood Finish.

As you can see, SWMBO is a happy camper.

Note: I have also used maple and plain ol' white pine.
Hope this helps.
Mike
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post #7 of 29 Old 07-07-2014, 01:53 PM
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My favorite method for drawers is a rabbet joint with dowels added. It's not the strongest, prettiest, or fastest... but a decent combination of all three. I used to do locking rabbet joints, but don't enjoy the lengthy dado setup work to get them right. However, if you're making a lot of drawers, the setup probably doesn't matter as much to you.

I know that doesn't answer your plywood question at all, but it's a worthy alternative.
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post #8 of 29 Old 07-07-2014, 02:38 PM
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The only plywoods I could suggest if you have sharp router bits is Baltic Birch, and ApplePly. They are both similar, and ApplePly comes in 4'x8'sheets. I don't think either is sold at the box stores.






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post #9 of 29 Old 07-07-2014, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jschaben
I suspect you got the plywood from Home Depot... my experience with their version of birch plywood has been that it doesn't machine worth diddly.
One method I have used, with limited success, is to climb cut, that is, to go right to left across the jig, for a couple of light passes then go through and finish the cut. Takes about a minimum of four passes and then the results are marginal. Trying to do it in one pass almost invariably results in tearout.
+1

Al


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post #10 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 01:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjchuck View Post
Thank all of you for your input everyone raised some good points. Yes I did buy the plywood at china depot, I am using a router and dovetail jig, and have decided I'm making to many drawers to waist my time with dovetails. A dado and rabbit joint will be good enough for bathroom and laundry room cabinets. I'll save the dovetails for something more deserving. I have found a place to buy quality plywood though, and plan to experiment with it when I get a chance..
do you mean this joint? all the drawers i made for my garage are this style.

they are fine, but i still sometimes get some tearout, since the dado leaves a strip that is only about 1/4" wide.
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post #11 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Curl
do you mean this joint? all the drawers i made for my garage are this style. they are fine, but i still sometimes get some tearout, since the dado leaves a strip that is only about 1/4" wide.
I made my shop drawers out of china depot plywood. At first I started with dovetails and had too much blow out or chipping.
I then switched to lap joints like your post but my sequence was I cut the vertical lap joint on a large piece of ply first using my router table. I then cut the sides and back to the proper height and ran the pieces thru for the bottom groove. Absolutely no tear out. I used a 3/8" bit for everything and never touch the height or fence . Was fast and the dry fit was perfect
Surprised myself.

Cut it twice, measure once and it's still too short.
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post #12 of 29 Old 07-09-2014, 04:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabinetman
The only plywoods I could suggest if you have sharp router bits is Baltic Birch, and ApplePly. They are both similar, and ApplePly comes in 4'x8'sheets. I don't think either is sold at the box stores. .
HD by me sells Baltic Birch but it's not the same as the Baltic Birch I get at the hardwood lumber yard. Buyer beware.
Just sayin

Cut it twice, measure once and it's still too short.
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post #13 of 29 Old 07-09-2014, 04:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al B Thayer
+1 Al
+2
Uncle fester

Cut it twice, measure once and it's still too short.
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post #14 of 29 Old 07-09-2014, 08:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MT Stringer View Post
If you have a source for 4/4 rough poplar, you could make your own drawer stock. The pic attached shows drawers made with 5/8 inch stock planed down from 4/4. Lots of waste in the shavings, but the drawers turned out nice. I finished them with Deft Clear Wood Finish.

As you can see, SWMBO is a happy camper.

Note: I have also used maple and plain ol' white pine.
Hope this helps.
Mike

Why would you start with 4/4 when you are going to plane down to 5/8"? I would start with 6/8" (3/4).

George
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post #15 of 29 Old 07-09-2014, 01:15 PM
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Why would you start with 4/4 when you are going to plane down to 5/8"? I would start with 6/8" (3/4).

George
Well, it comes rough at 4/4.

If I buy 3/4, it is more expensive because you are paying for someone else to plane it to 3/4.
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post #16 of 29 Old 07-10-2014, 08:03 PM
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I have found, even when using the Baltic birch, I get a certain amount of tearout. Also, when I have smaller dovetails on small drawer projects, it won't work at all and solid is the only way to go.
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post #17 of 29 Old 07-11-2014, 06:27 PM
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CJChuck,

I've dovetailed lots of drawers using ordinary A-C plywood from Home Depot. You must, however, hand cut them or at best use a bandsaw to make some preliminary cuts. Using a router just results in tearout, of the plywood and your hair. Here's a Flickr feed on a desk I made with four drawers using almost 100 percent plywood throughout.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kjhart...7623030869058/

Check out the last picture in the set, it shows the dovetailed plywood drawers nicely.

If you haven't hand cut dovetails, I recommend Frank Klausz's excellent video, "How to Dovetail a Drawer" available here.

Use Klausz's methods and you'll be turning out drawers like no tomorrow. Good luck.

Kevin H.
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post #18 of 29 Old 07-13-2014, 04:15 PM
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Why would you start with 4/4 when you are going to plane down to 5/8"? I would start with 6/8" (3/4).

George
You should learn about materials. There is no such thing as 6/8! 4/4 means it was sawn at (approximately) 1". Then to clean it up it was put through a planer removing about 1/8" each side. We get our lumber from distribution yards, not the box stores. We have them ("skip plane" or what is sometimes called hit or miss) to 15/16". Some boards fully clean up @ that, most don't but it leaves enough to work with if you need to face it.
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post #19 of 29 Old 07-13-2014, 05:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry42
You should learn about materials. There is no such thing as 6/8! 4/4 means it was sawn at (approximately) 1". Then to clean it up it was put through a planer removing about 1/8" each side. We get our lumber from distribution yards, not the box stores. We have them ("skip plane" or what is sometimes called hit or miss) to 15/16". Some boards fully clean up @ that, most don't but it leaves enough to work with if you need to face it. For woodworkers passionate about it, go to IWF2014 in Atlanta, August 20-24.

Rough sawn 3/4 is available to me in my area at multiple distributors.

Sounds like it was only available in 4/4 rough or 3/4 s4s to the OP though.

I would skip the plywood and use poplar or maple for the drawer boxes if I was set on a dovetail joint.
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post #20 of 29 Old 07-18-2014, 03:31 AM
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I have been using Baltic Birch ply for many years for drawer boxes, always in a dovetail jig. The time it would take to make drawer sides from solid is not worthwhile to most customers, except in some furniture pieces. For bathroom and kitchen drawers, the Baltic Birch is 9 ply for 1/2" thick, and virtually no voids. It finishes nicely when sanded to 220 grit. I set the jig up for 1/32" extra depth so the front and back need to be trimmed slightly after assembly, but that allows me to get a good score on the face of the ply by climb cutting slightly before routing the dovetails. For a run of a dozen drawers, I may get 3 chips pop out, which I glue back in place. I DO have a problem with getting router bits that will not snap on the stuff anymore. I used Whiteside DT bits for years, but then they started snapping off, consistently, no matter how slowly I fed. I probably had a dozen bits snap before I stopped using them. Whiteside replaced all of them, but I had to send the broken ones to them and wait for shipment. PITA. Some of them would break within 1 or 2 drawers. I have had much better luck with the Porter Cable DT bits on the Baltic Birch. No snapping. For that matter, I have even used Vermont America cheapos in a pinch, and even THEY didn't snap, but they don't cut very cleanly either.
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