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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Currently in the final leg of custom built-ins for the kids closets, and had some questions around the drawer boxes. Looked around and couldn't find exact answers, hopefully the fine folks on this board can provide sage advice.

So, my drawers will be inset with false fronts, using 1/2" poplar for the sides, 1/4" birch ply for the bottom, 3/4" poplar for the fronts. My question is around how to do the corners.

I had originally planned to use pocket screws since they'll be largely hidden, and bought a small rig for the job. However, I've been pretty comfortable with rabbets and dados previously, and am now wondering if I should just use a glued joint with brads. Here are the questions:

1) Are glued rabbets + brads a lasting joint for drawers that won't hold a ton of weight (largely clothes, maybe knick knack storage)?

2) What about double rabbets? Is the extra surface area worth the small amount of additional effort?

3) Would you use pocket screws over either of the above? Something else?

Much as I'd like to try, I don't have the energy, skill, time, material to burn, or tools for more advanced joinery (m+t, etc.), but I'm willing to pursue any joint my table saw can generate!

Thanks in advance for the help, really appreciate it.

Best,
Rick
 

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Hey Rick,

I just went through this process myself, ended up going with the lock joint for corners on my first set of 6 drawers. From what I was reading (here and there), well done glue joints hold up much better over time than the pocket screws. I made my drawer boxes out of 1/2 birch ply with 1/4 bottoms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all the responses everybody, much appreciated. While I can find information on lots of joints, it's hard to find good insight on relative strength. I actually considered a locking rabbet, just didn't list it. Definitely seems like a solid option.

The brads were my attempt to get around having to clamp everyone of these boxes. So I'll ask the obvious question; with any of these glued joints, can I get around having to clamp the boxes while they set? I have limited clamps and table space, so a quick self-holding option is very helpful.

And if I do use brads (with or without clamps), thinking about hold forces it seemed like the best spot for them actually be in from the sides (pulling the back pieces into/against the sides). However, that obviously defeats an advantage of a hidden joint... I could always fill them, but with 10 drawers that thought makes me want to cry.

Thanks again for the help!

-Rick
 

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I hear that - fighting the issue of running low on clamps and surfaces to do the clamping is a struggle. I was only able to do two at a time myself.

If I were you, I'd say try this approach. Glue the joints, use clamps to get them all nice and tight, then shoot a brad or two into each joint, then throw a ratcheting cargo strap around it and get it cinched down nice and snug. Then release the clamps, set the drawer aside to dry, and do the next one. You can snag a set of 4 or 6 ratcheting cargo straps at Harbor Freight for $12 or so if memory serves.

This would let you get at least 4 or 6 drawers all glued up and drying at once. Depending on how confidant you are in your speed to glue up a drawer, you could use Tightbond II instead of III for a fast set (30 minute if I recall right). That way you could pretty much get them all done in one session.
 

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I've used glued joints as in the picture below for false front drawers; never had a problem. The joints are easy to do on a table saw.

I'd agree that clamping is a good idea, even if only long enough to shoot some brads in, as MattS suggested. I'd definitely use glue; don't depend on just brads or screws.
 

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I've used glued joints as in the picture below for false front drawers; never had a problem. The joints are easy to do on a table saw.

I'd agree that clamping is a good idea, even if only long enough to shoot some brads in, as MattS suggested. I'd definitely use glue; don't depend on just brads or screws.
That's how I did mine too - with a dado bit in my table saw. Used a sled for the short ends and they came out perfect.
 

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A glued rabbet would probably be fine. Personally I'm not a fan of brads or pocket screws(this is a personal aesthetic preference, structurally they are fine), but if I were worried about adding some extra strength I'd do the rabbet, drill a hole instead of using a brad, and glue in a short 1/8" dowel. I prefer the look and would use dark dowels that would contrast the poplar.

The brads would accomplish the same thing and be quicker too though.
 

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I've used glued joints as in the picture below for false front drawers; never had a problem. The joints are easy to do on a table saw.

I'd agree that clamping is a good idea, even if only long enough to shoot some brads in, as MattS suggested. I'd definitely use glue; don't depend on just brads or screws.
I think it's called a lock rabbet and it's my go to joint for drawers. Super easy to do on a router table.
 

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I guess I am just a simpleton when it comes to plain drawers. I think a lot of folks overthink drawer construction. But then again, the OP is talking about Kids so I bet there will be rough housing going on.

What kind of drawer slides are you using? Soft close drawer slides will take a lot of the wear and tear out of the drawer operation from day to day.

Here are pics of my shop drawers. They are simple rabbet joints glued together and a few 18 ga brad nails. From the pictures you can see they are full of clamps and they get operated multiple times almost every day. They are mounted on ball bearing drawer slides (not soft close). The top two drawers have the simple drawer tracks that I hate, but that is all I had when I built them.

A quick note. My first workbench was built in 1988. I made the drawers from 3/4 plywood and white pine. The joints were butt joints with Elmers glue and some 3 penny finishing nails. When I tore the bench down a few years ago, I had to beat the drawers apart with a 4lb shop hammer. The glue didn't give. It tore the wood apart at the joint! :eek::thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks guys... funny, the clamp, brad, release model was the same exact solution I was kicking around.

My concern with the brad is that the force on those joints will be lateral (perpendicular to the side), and that a brad shot in from the back or front (so it's hidden) will be "across" the joint. While I'm a novice, my experience is that I want to shoot so that the brad pulls the two pieces together, which would seem to mean shooting into the back piece from the side?

Anyway, it sounds like a glued dado rabbet + brad will be plenty strong, so I'll do it regardless. I always like a chance to use the nailer. I can just spend a week gluing the drawers, my kids can put there clothes on the floor in the meantime. ;)

Interesting side note, yaknow what's really fun? When you go to cut off the 1/2" you need to remove from the backs/fronts for the inset, feel somethings wrong, but only realize you futzed the pieces and trimmed the SIDES after you've already done it. Oh well, no one will ever notice all the middle drawers are 1/2" short. :)

To the comment about a Dado blade, real fancy man there... I couldn't imagine abandoning my trusty 60T dewalt finishing blade... There's nothing quite as gratifying as freehanding your joints!

Thanks again for all the help.

-Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I guess I am just a simpleton when it comes to plain drawers. I think a lot of folks overthink drawer construction. But then again, the OP is talking about Kids so I bet there will be rough housing going on.

What kind of drawer slides are you using? Soft close drawer slides will take a lot of the wear and tear out of the drawer operation from day to day.

Here are pics of my shop drawers. They are simple rabbet joints glued together and a few 18 ga brad nails. From the pictures you can see they are full of clamps and they get operated multiple times almost every day. They are mounted on ball bearing drawer slides (not soft close). The top two drawers have the simple drawer tracks that I hate, but that is all I had when I built them.

A quick note. My first workbench was built in 1988. I made the drawers from 3/4 plywood and white pine. The joints were butt joints with Elmers glue and some 3 penny finishing nails. When I tore the bench down a few years ago, I had to beat the drawers apart with a 4lb shop hammer. The glue didn't give. It tore the wood apart at the joint! :eek::thumbsup::thumbsup:
Ha, too funny on the glue... that Titebond is strong stuff, I grew up with a maniacal wood glue user (my dad always had something clamped on our table), so I have a deep appreciation for the power of wood repair.

Funny you ask about the slides, I've been hemming and hawwing about this for months (my project was delayed when I fell 30ft out of a tree and sheared my pelvis in half in April... fun times). I want soft close both for wear and tear and because I think it'll make it more likely my damn kids will close them, but I've been struggling to justify the price. Tonight I purchased one of the following as a test case:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PHL3RGQ?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00

It's only a little more or the same as a good standard slide, and it seems to get better reviews than some of the cheaper or similar chinese slides. I just can't justify Blum or KV... I need 10 sets of these things, and even these cheap ones will run me $144, Blums would be double.

Any suggestions on a good, cheap-ish soft close slide? The drawers are all around 15.5" (two closets, slightly different dimensions), so I'm going with 14"s that I'll front align (I can live without getting full clearance when pulled out).

If anyone has any thoughts on slides or something else I'm missing please let me know, there's nothing I love more than experienced insight!

Thanks,
Rick
 

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spend the money on slides

Get the best slides you can, within reason. All the time and effort you have put into the other parts of the cabinet is small compered to the "additional" cost of really good slides. They have to last the lifetime of the cabinet and are the only moving parts, so spend the extra money.

I can't recommend a brand, sorry. Amazon does have reviews in addition to advice here. :smile:

cabinetparts.com offers coupons:
https://www.coupons.com/coupon-codes/cabinet-parts/

http://www.cabinetmakerssupply.com/drawer_slides_specialty_slides_cabinet_56_ct.htm

http://procabinetsupply.com/pages/drawer-slides
 

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Drawers

Already many good post on this topic, but the rabbet joint is my favorite for drawer construction. I have two dovetail jigs I might use for furniture, but not for general cabinetry. Kitchen drawers, shop drawers, utility drawers are all made with rabbeted sides and have never failed.
Good glue and a few 1 1/4" finish nails will give years of trouble-free use.
The metal drawer slides can make a huge difference and take the stresses off the drawer.
 

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Soft Close Drawer Slides

I've used the Liberty Soft Close slides several times. They are "good" quality. Not a Blum, but they pretty much do what you expect them to do.

Surprisingly, the "generic" Ebay one's are on par with quality, but ship in non-retail packaging and don't include screws and instructions. IMO, a better value, but they're currently sold in sets of 10 pairs for $69. Here's a link. Liberty's steel is a bit higher gauge, so they may take a more abuse, but their both rated at 100lb / pair.

In general, soft close hinges seem to have less tolerance, so you'll have to be careful with your drawer fitting.
 
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