How to build a closet organizer {post 3} Building drawers

By Pinktoesandpowertools | Progress Posts

I love drawers.  I do not love drawer glides.  Drawer glides are going to be the death of me.  It’s going to have to be a write in on my death certificate.  Cause of death: drawer glides.  But those come later…first we need to build some drawers.

I used to build drawers like I did in Pip’s storage bed.  I don’t think I will put them together like that again.  In this version I assembled the sides and then nailed on the bottom, whereas for the storage beds the bottom was inset.  The only cost I had for these was the 1×2 drawer faces, glides, and the knobs–all the rest was scrap plywood from other builds!!  Love. That.

So to build the drawers the easy way, first you cut the boards so that the sides are the width you want the drawer to be.   Then the front and back pieces are the length you want the drawer to be minus your (plywood width x 2).  So I want a drawer that is 14 width x 15.5 length.  My sides would be 14″ and my front and back with 3/4″ plywood would be 14 also (15.5-1.5= 14).

To assemble this quickly, I modified an idea I saw on Pregnant With Power Tools.  She uses scrap wood to make a jig for holding your wood square while you assemble.  I had the idea to use some of these Rockler assembly squares screwed down to my workbench instead.  Use Pregnant with Power Tool’s idea if you don’t have the Rockler squares. If I didn’t have the Rockler version, I would definitely build the scrap wood jig (being sure it is absolutely square) and save it after for future projects.  Very handy!

Use these to hold the drawer sides together while you glue and nail them in place.  Keep the bottom always on the bottom when assembling (you want any variance in length to be at the top of the drawer) and nail through the sides into the front and back.  That way the stress of pulling the drawer open will not cause you to someday pull off the front of the drawer (thanks for that tip, Sandra!).

I used 16 gauge 2″ nails in my pneumatic nail gun.  If you don’t own one, countersink some screws instead (and not 2″ screws–1.25″ would be plenty).  But I would only use screws if you are using 3/4″ plywood because 1/2″ plywood probably is too thin.  For these drawers I could have used 18 gauge nails at 1.25″ because the drawers are not big and can’t hold a lot of weight because of that.  If your drawers are deep, I would put a corner clamp (these are the ones I own and this is an affiliate link) on the drawer top before nailing it together as well, but I didn’t do that for these drawers.

Now cut your drawer bottoms to cover the entire bottom of the drawer.  I used 1/4″ plywood, but I would only do that on smaller drawers.  Make sure you account for the added height of the drawer with the bottom on it when you are deciding drawer openings.  Once I had the bottoms cut, I put my corner clamps on the sides.  This automatically squared the drawer up to nail on the bottom (and they were not square before I did this–I checked).  Once they were tightened, I flipped the drawer over and glued and nailed the bottom on.  I used 18 gauge nails for the bottom.

And now you have a nice and square drawer!  Being precise is essential with drawers–both in building the drawer and the cabinet that it is going in.  The drawer cannot operate smoothly otherwise.

**Update March 2, 2012** I would only build these drawers if you are using European drawer slides that you screw into the side bottoms of the drawers.  That means that the drawer is resting on the slides.  If you are going to use side-mounted slides, I would use a different method of construction because the weight of the items in the drawer has the potential to eventually cause the bottom of the drawer to fail.

Next post is the dreaded drawer glides.  Actually, I found an idea on the internet from Woodsmith that made the drawer glide installation really easy.  But then my sixth drawer didn’t fit with the initial installation of the glides.  And it all glided downhill from there…ha ha!  (I can joke about it now that the trauma is wearing off…)

What is your dreaded task with DIY?

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