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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I’m using and old wood desk with a 1 ½” thick top laid on the desk top as my current work bench. I plan on building a new bench eventually, but probably not this year.

The current drawers just have a flat plywood bottom butt joined up to the sides and a rabbit in the front. It’s just a simple plywood box basically.

Anyway I’m building a new drawer the same size for my new plane collection to fit in the existing space and I’m undecided on whether I should dado the bottom in the sides & front OR rabbit to the front and butt join up to the sides like before. I am going to dovetail the sides to the front just for the practice if that makes a difference.

I have a number of drawers throughout the house with the dado edges broken off or split and I’m concerned about the weight of the planes being too much for the side edges and afraid they will break off too. I don’t want to use slides because they will not fit the existing space, but I will make room for them when I ever build a new bench.

The only real problem with the butt joint is the friction of the two large plywood surfaces together and I was thinking of maybe using a thin strip on each side between the drawer and desk bottom to keep the friction down. Maybe even a strip of sheet metal instead of wood if I can attach it flat without rolling up.

So is there any other real reason that drawer bottoms SHOULD use dado's on the sides?



Existing drawer to be replaced:

 

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Normally when I build a drawer box I make the bottom of the drawer 1/2" up from the bottom. I make the bottoms out of 1/4" plywood and if there is an application where something heavy is used like your planes, I will put a piece of 1/2" hardwood under the bottom to re-inforce it.
 

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Its your draw, in your shop, make it to take the weight that your going to put into it.
Originally draws didn't have grooves cut into them, the bottom was nailed onto them and then wooden runners where added to the sides and run on wooden battens on the inside of the cabinets.

Just rub candle wax on the runners and they will slide real nice.
Make the battens for the next draw a bit wider and it will not only support that draw but also stop the draw with the planes in it from tipping when you open it.

If this was a show draw I would put grooves in the draw and add a central support grooved both sides and mortice and tenoned into the sides of the draw, but which ever way it has to support the weight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Steve,
I’ve been thinking about it all day and even though it will probably look better with the dado, I would like to butt the bottom up under the sides with glue and maybe screws. I am worried if I’m going to have a problem with expansion since the bottom is plywood and the sides are solid.

I bought 1x10 Poplar for sides and will probably plane them down to ½” thick. I have ½” plywood for the bottom and plan to dado under each plane blade to protect the cutting edge. I think the ½” plywood should be strong enough to hold the weight, but if I have expansion problems then I don’t know what to do. I guess I could just use plywood for everything and forget about the dovetails to avoid expansion.

One of the reasons why I’m avoiding the dado and floating bottom is that I’m thinking about times when I might pull the whole drawer out to take outside during the summer months. I’m not sure if I’ll do that or just pull whatever plane I’ll be using, but it would be nice to be able to pull the whole drawer out for whatever reason maybe to move or something without breaking the drawer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I can’t tell you how glad I am to hear that because I have repaired hundreds of drawers in my lifetime with glue where the bottom fell out from too many clothes being stuffed in. I was never around long enough to know for sure if they held up or not, but I’ve been told for years to leave the bottoms floating. Actually I think the first I heard of it was from Norm Abrams on This Old House in 1979, but I kept doing it. :smile:
 

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Here's a quick fix for what you have. Glue in a 1" or so strip of Formica on the outside edges of the bottom panel, and on the outside edges of the drawer bottom, so that it slides on the Formica face to face. Don't use a high gloss mica, but rather a textured finish. You might be able to find it on a roll with a peel and stick back (PSA...pressure sensitive adhesive) at the box store

The trick with drawer bottoms is that they can be cut with plywood and fit in a groove on the front, and the sides, and ¼" should be fine, but you can go ⅜". The back of the drawer cut short, so the bottom can slide in. It's cut to fit snug, so it will square the drawer when inserted. It's fastened to the underside of the back. It's not usually glued in so it will make removal and replacement easy.






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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've built a lot of drawers, but always with plywood. I've always used solid fronts and this drawer is going to be the first for solid wood on the sides. I don't care so much for the bottom as long as it can support the weight and abuse.

I've wanted to do dovetails all my life and this is my first opportunity because I've been watching lots of videos using a saw. I bought a Craftsman Dovetail jig 20 years ago and never could get it to work. Now I've seen enough videos some 2 to 3 times that I think I can do it with a hand saw or even a coping saw.

This is my Dovetail jig that I built years ago and now I store my routers and some of my clamps on it. Oh and it also supports my coffee. LOL :laughing:

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks Billy, Nice tutorial! I never thought to use corner clamps and I just happened to get a couple for Christmas. :yes:
 
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