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I am trying to figure out a balance in building a drawer box 33x22x10 and whether to use 1/2 or 3/4 baltic birch. The weight of the wood is about 40lbs for the 3/4 and 25 lbs for the 1/2. Has anyone experimented with this? This is for a kitchen so it will be holding pretty heavy pots and pans. I know a lot of blogs have been written about this, but any real life experience using 1/2" or 3/4" drawers and how they held up would be helpful. Any ideas concerning adding support or anything else that comes to mind would be appreciated.
 

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When I make pot and pan drawers I put the drawer bottom in a dado 1/2" up from the bottom. I just use 1/4" plywood and put three strips of 1/2" thick hardwood underneath from front to back to support the plywood. Never had any complaints. 1/2" plywood would be alright. 3/4" would be overkill.
 

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where's my table saw?
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I'd use 1/2" unless .....

You said "heavy" pots and pans. You mean really heavy like cast iron?
If so, I'd use 3/4" and never look back. I have had to double up the 1/4" bottoms on my store bought Wellborn drawers because they sagged from many heavy cans. They measured 36" X 24" X 10" tall, but they had 3/4" dovetail sides. I don't know why they "cheaped out" on the bottom thickness .... :sad2:



Always put them in a dado around the bottom, so you won't need to redo them later.
 

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CharleyL
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The last (first entered) photo is of some "Apple Boxes". The name for them was coined by the early photo and movie industry for stackable spacers to raise someone or some thing any height in 1" increments between 1" and 15", simply by stacking one or more of these to achieve the height desired. Each is 12" X 20" and a set contains 1", 2", 4", and 8" heights, so any height can be achieved, simply by stacking the right combination of these.

I built my two sets of these for my photo/video studio from a bunch of Baltic Birch drops that I had in my shop, so no money at all was spent for materials. The commercially available versions are made from construction grade plywood and pine and are very heavy, and splinter and break very easily. I wanted mine significantly lighter, but stronger, so used 1/2" thick BB for the top and bottom, and 3/8" for the sides, with 3 partitions inside to transfer the weight from top to bottom. The corners were box jointed, because I can do this easily using my Incra I-Box jig, Freud SBOX8 blade set, and my Delta Unisaw. Only Titebond II was used to glue them together, no metal at all.

I have had a 350 lb man on top of a 12" high stack of these, with not even a crunch as he climbed up. Baltic Birch plywood is incredibly strong when compared to our pine and fir construction grade plywood. I was tempted to use just 1/4" BB plywood for the sides, but didn't have enough to complete them, so I went with the 3/8" sides (would have been even lighter). Three coats of poly later they were put into almost every day use. They are about 1 year old now, and still in perfect condition.

I like to make boxes, and frequently make them from Baltic Birch. Almost all are made in a similar way, if they will be just tool boxes for specialty tools, camera gear, lighting equipment, etc. I have never had one break, even when dropped on one corner. Scuffed maybe, but not broken.

I've also included a few photos of other boxes that I've built using the same basic process. I doubt that going any heavier in Baltic Birch will be necessary for your plan, especially if you add any partitions to your drawers.

Charley
 

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I agree with Rebel 1/2” and the dado a good 1/2” from the bottom.

I made the bottom large drawer in my kitchen 3/4 b/c I knew it would have cast iron pots (36” wide”).
I did the same time the pantry (36” wide drawers).
 

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I guess I split the difference. I use 5/8" soft maple for my drawer sides. Material wise it costs about the same as baltic birch plywood, but is more labor intensive. I use 1/4 maple ply for my drawer bottoms and 1/2" maple ply for larger drawer bottoms such as roll outs. I also use undermount soft close hardware which also gives some additional integrity to the bottom.
 

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I guess I split the difference. I use 5/8" soft maple for my drawer sides. Material wise it costs about the same as baltic birch plywood, but is more labor intensive. I use 1/4 maple ply for my drawer bottoms and 1/2" maple ply for larger drawer bottoms such as roll outs. I also use undermount soft close hardware which also gives some additional integrity to the bottom.
You should use 1/2 for rollouts and large drawers. 1/4 is fine for smaller drawers...people with rollouts tend to use them for can goods....
 

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The Nut in the Cellar
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I recently finished making six drawers from 3/4” maple with 3/4“ maple veneered ply bottoms. The ply was leftover from another piece, so I decided to use it. Probably is a bit of overkill, but I tend to over build. The drawers are 26” long, 7” wide, and 6” deep. With 3/4” added full insert face piece to hide the full depth, soft close slides. The bottoms are set in 3/8” x 3/8” dados. I used 3/4” stock for the drawer parts as all of the commercially made cabinets and the Amish made furniture we have used it for drawers. All of the drawer joinery is cross pinned with 3/32” bamboo pins (nails) after the glue had set. The finished drawers weigh in at 12 pounds each with the slides and fronts. The drawers are heavy duty and my wife will fill them to the brim with all sorts of things, so I didn’t want things to come adrift later on. The drawer slides are rated at 100 pounds per set.
 

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When I make pot and pan drawers I put the drawer bottom in a dado 1/2" up from the bottom. I just use 1/4" plywood and put three strips of 1/2" thick hardwood underneath from front to back to support the plywood. Never had any complaints. 1/2" plywood would be alright. 3/4" would be overkill.
 

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What is the best location to put the braces, in the middle and then on the sides. I assume not the along the outer edge,but a couple inches in. If I decide to use under mount slides I believe they will hit the hardware. Thanks for the help.
 

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Egg Spurt
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I made my shop cabinet drawers a bit too wide, 44" x 18" deep with the bottoms 1/2" up using 1/2" material for the bottom and 3/4" for the sides. It was most definitely overkill, but I had a buttload of leftover 3/4" plywood taking up entirely too much space so 3/4 it was. I did use side mount slides and they were difficult at best to get in at 44".. The drawers aren't very deep, just 4" so I doubt I'll ever overload one without needing to store bunches of 44x18x4 lead. Short of that I'm probably safe unless I store dead body parts and they rot through the drawer bottoms..
Just for the record I'm not storing body parts. Those I leave on the front porch.
 

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I built a drawer approximately this size for a cabinet in my shop. The sides, front and back are 3/4". The bottom is 1/2". The drawer holds heavy hand powered tools.

The 1/2" bottom is sufficiently strong without any bracing. I did use heavy duty (100#) full pull pullouts.

George
 

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If you use 1/2 side material sometimes you might want to use 7/16 undercut head screws for the drawer hardware....
615100.0.jpg
 
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