The bane of my existence - drawer questions please - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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The bane of my existence - drawer questions please

I'm about to tackle drawers for the 3rd time - first 2 times I gave up.

This time what I plan on doing is making drawer boxes without sides - kinda more like a drawer frame.

These drawers will be used under 2 of my work benches so they don't have to be too pretty - but I would like them to come out ok though... for a change :(.

Anyway, the questions:

I don't want to use drawer guides - that seems to be one of my problems. Instead I saw some drawers that use just a wooden runners that the drawer rests on and slide on.

Would using this technique allow the drawer to slide ok and not tilt out of the drawer slot? I'm not going to be dadoing the drawer sides.

The wood I'm using for the frames is common, 1x3 and for the runners I'm splitting a 1x2.

The drawers will be 1/2" sanded maple or birch ply not sure which yet.

One of my concerns is the type of wood I'm using for the runners is not hardwood - will that not allow the drawer to slide? I planned on using wax on the runners and the drawer bottoms.

Thanks as always in advance - once I start I'm going to post the progress up to the point I take an axe to the whole thing and make firewood :)

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post #2 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 01:43 PM
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I'm confused. Aren't drawers without sides called shelves?? We might need a rough drawing of what your trying to do.
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post #3 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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Here ya go - this is what I am talking about with no sides, just a frame




See the runners?

Also, this is one unit - I'm going to build this in 3 units
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post #4 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 03:03 PM
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Although I've built rough drawers for my garage storage, I've never tried to do them without using store-bought slides. Just too easy to install them, and they make opening and closing drawers filled with heavy stuff very easy.

Most of the drawers I've had/seen in bedroom suites are on wood guides like you show. Designed to hold clothes without a lot of weight. They work fine as long as you don't put too much in them. I've used bedroom chests of drawers for the garage before ... and too much weight will make the drawers less user friendly.
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post #5 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 03:12 PM
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So the cabinet won't have sides, but the drawer will. Got it.

The issue I see with this is there isn't anything keeping the drawer square in the opening as you pull it in and out. Otherwise it would work...

Any reason your avoiding drawer slides??
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post #6 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 03:12 PM
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Put a strip of formica for the drawers to slide on, smooth as silk and works very easy, can hardly tell the difference between slides and the formica strip.
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post #7 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 03:21 PM
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we have some Danish designed stuff - for the last near 50 years....

the drawers have a slot, the carcass has a rail.
looks like maple - it's hard. still works perfectly.

methinks both the rail&drawer body need to be hard hard hardwood. elsewise they'll rub&wear and get stickly / no more easy slide.

weight aka shelf loading will also play a role. a sock drawer does not impose the same conditions as a 20 lb air nailer......
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post #8 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryan50hrl View Post
So the cabinet won't have sides, but the drawer will. Got it.

The issue I see with this is there isn't anything keeping the drawer square in the opening as you pull it in and out. Otherwise it would work...

Any reason your avoiding drawer slides??
Good question and yes there is...

My 2 other tries were both with slides and I am unable to get the drawers measured correctly, the guides installed correctly and the drawers to actually roll in and out. They're always skewed so bad they won't slide, or they are installed so the drawer doesn't go all the way in or it goes in too far. It's really discouraging.

Plus it's an added expense I don't want to incur. I have some old slides I took out of older cheap furniture/desks that I use - but this method with the wood runners seems much easier to me.

I really need a win with drawers as it's stopping me from doing a lot of projects I have on my list. It's very discouraging to not be able to make drawers for my carts and tables.

BigJim - that's a great idea - and easy too - thanks!

Last edited by new2woodwrk; 05-17-2016 at 03:27 PM.
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post #9 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 03:29 PM
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From your picture, it seems you have your plan and now ready to go.
Your plans looks like a good one to me.
I prefer a hardwood runner myself, but if you use softwood, use a harder softwood like yellow pine. Because this is for your shop, the drawers will eventually get a lot of weight, but the drawers will not get opened and closed as much as a kitchen drawer.
I like to put a stop at the back of my drawers so they can't be pulled completely out without bypassing the stop.
Also, I probably would not split the 1 X 2 for the glides. I'd use it as is which is only 3/4" X 1 1/2"
Pre-drill the guides to prevent splitting.
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If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #10 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 03:47 PM
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Maybe you can tell us how you make your drawer frames and drawer boxes. We could give you some tips. It really sounds like you need the basics down.

If they're not both square and in the right proportion to each other, you'll have trouble, as you've seen.

What type of material? What type of saw? Do you cut matching sides at once, or measure each one separately? How are you joining the drawer fronts/backs and sides? How do you approach the drawer bottoms? Do you make drawers from measurements, or to fit frames that are already completed?

Also start simple, with 1/2" plywood, butt joints, glue and then predrill for #6 screws. Work on getting those square before you move on.
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post #11 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 04:24 PM
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I'd tend to agree....let's walk through drawers step by step and get their production done, then move on to their mounting.

If the drawers aren't square or flat, they won't work on hardwood runners either.
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post #12 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 04:29 PM
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Incase it's helpful, I showed my drawer construction step by step in my most recent project.

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/shop-storage-131721/
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post #13 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 04:36 PM
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Also....one last thing. If your really set on not using slides, square drawers will still be really important.

On the bottom row of drawers I notice there is a lip next to the slide that keeps the drawer from angling out the side of the cabinet. I'd make sure that was in all drawer openings to keep the drawers moving in and out straight.

I'm not convinced you can't just use soft wood for runners on shop cabinets, my Inlaws cabinets in their kitchen used pine runners that functioned daily for 50 years until I tore them out last year. They had worn considerably, but they got used daily for 50 years.
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post #14 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all for the advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanchez View Post
What type of material?
Plywood is all I've used to date on anything

Quote:
What type of saw?
Delta 36-725
Quote:
Do you cut matching sides at once, or measure each one separately?
Usually I cut the 2 corresponding sides for the drawers together - but I did do the first by cutting and measuring each one separately - I've learned a lot since the first firewood... err drawers!
Quote:
How are you joining the drawer fronts/backs and sides?
I have a 90 degree jig I made, I clamp 1 front and 1 side, glue it, then brad nail, then the same for the other side except I use the side and the back. Then join the 2 units together. Now I have 4 - 90 degree clamps I use also.
Quote:
How do you approach the drawer bottoms?
I take a sheet of 1/4 and brad nail it to the bottom - no dados yet - although my bottoms always seem to be off by about 1/16. I thought my saw was out of alignment but I've checked it over and over and I can't see where it's out that much
Quote:
Do you make drawers from measurements, or to fit frames that are already completed?
Both actually - my first I tried to fit the drawers to the frames - that didn't work. The 2nd I made 3 drawers and figured I make the boxes to fit - they're not firewood yet, still sitting there while I scratch my head how to get them together!
Quote:
Also start simple, with 1/2" plywood, butt joints, glue and then predrill for #6 screws. Work on getting those square before you move on.
I always predrill - it's now a habit

Thanks for the advice
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post #15 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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Ryan, I saw your build and commented a few times on it - excellent looking cabinet

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryan50hrl View Post
Also....one last thing. If your really set on not using slides, square drawers will still be really important.

On the bottom row of drawers I notice there is a lip next to the slide that keeps the drawer from angling out the side of the cabinet. I'd make sure that was in all drawer openings to keep the drawers moving in and out straight.
I think that's part of the frame

Quote:
I'm not convinced you can't just use soft wood for runners on shop cabinets, my Inlaws cabinets in their kitchen used pine runners that functioned daily for 50 years until I tore them out last year. They had worn considerably, but they got used daily for 50 years.
Works for me :)

Thanks as always for the advice
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post #16 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 05:52 PM
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Here ya go - this is what I am talking about with no sides, just a frame




See the runners?

Also, this is one unit - I'm going to build this in 3 units
That type drawer system works however the drawers need to fit fairly snug or they will bind. Then sometimes the wood swells and binds the drawer. This system the drawer box can be made looser and will give you fewer problems.
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post #17 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 07:43 PM Thread Starter
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This system the drawer box can be made looser and will give you fewer problems.
Doesn't that require a router to cut out the center??
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post #18 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by ryan50hrl View Post
I'm confused. Aren't drawers without sides called shelves?? We might need a rough drawing of what your trying to do.
I just spit my coffee all over the screen.
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post #19 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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I just spit my coffee all over the screen.
I know right LOL
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post #20 of 42 Old 05-17-2016, 09:08 PM
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I know right LOL
That was no way directed at you or even about your learning curve. Just his comment was humorous.

I feel your pain. I am new to woodworking as well. Every step is a journey. I follow yours with interest.
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