Dining Room/ Home Office {drawer fronts}

By Pinktoesandpowertools | Woodworking Tutorials

It seems that every time I build something, I modify how I went about making various parts.  I have built drawer fronts for cabinets using a few different methods now, and this time I am very happy with how they came out.  I don’t know if my level of skill has increased or if the Greek gods who oversee straight boards were pleased with me, but every one of these drawer fronts came out flat and square and just the right size.  Love it when that happens–probably because it is a rare thing.  So without further ado:  How to make drawer fronts with a router and Kreg Jig pocket holes.

I used the same method as I did on my DIY closet organizer but in this post I’ll show you how I clamped it all together and pinned the plywood backs in.

Rule Number 1.  Use. straight. boards.

Rule Number 2.  Straight boards.  Use them.

Rule Number 3.  See Rule #1 and #2.

Off topic, I shot a video during this build where I talk about picking straight boards because I think it could be a difficult thing for a beginner, and because sometimes you can get away with boards that aren’t straight, but only when they are warped certain ways (depending on what you are using them for).  Would anyone find that helpful or are my readers past that point in skill level?  Don’t want to waste time editing a video nobody wants to see…please chime in in the comment section!

I used two options to assemble: one was a combination square to hold the corners square.  This works, but it isn’t my preferred method.

Use a combination square to assemble drawer fronts

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The way I prefer to build because I think it results in really square drawer fronts is to use a piece of scrap plywood the size of your drawer front (or a couple of pieces to get the size needed) to provide a flat work surface.  Then I use a Clamp-It assembly square  to get square corners (note: you only get one clamp–I own four).  If your boards are really straight, and your cuts are really straight, and Lady Luck is smiling on you, you can get away with just a Kreg face clamp (I bought the size in the link, but I really wish I had one with a longer reach–it’s more versatile) over the joint and a Kreg right angle clamp in one of the pocket holes.  This picture just shows that clamp set up without the assembly square, etc.  Don’t have a right angle clamp?  Just use an Irwin Quick Grip or similar to hold the pieces together (they will want to spread apart).

clamps to assembe drawer fronts with pocket holes

Here’s the set up with the assembly square when you have an ornery corner and the boards are fighting you to remain square.  Add in the Right Angle clamp as well.  Sometimes the boards want to fold toward the middle when you are driving in the screws so just add a clamp on each edge of the assembly square, a clamp over the joint, and if you have the right angle clamp, add that too.  If you don’t have a face frame clamp then use a scrap of wood under a Irwin quick grip over the joint (or some other clamp you can get in there).  Improvise!  I started out with only a few Irwin quick grip clamps and have slowly added more kinds of clamps each project.   I just got the face frame clamp for this project 🙂

pocket hole drawer fronts--clamps to assemble

An issue I ran into with the closet organizer drawer fronts was splitting the wood when I was driving the Kreg Jig pocket hole screws.  I was going to predrill some pilot holes because that was suggested in the comment area of that post, but I couldn’t get my drill in the area I was trying to work in.  So this time I dialed down the clutch (read more about what that means at This Old House) so that the drill bit would disengage when it met resistance.  It is set at “1” here, but I think I used it at about 5 or 6 on the drawer fronts.  It eliminated the actual splitting that happened on the closet drawers, but it did bulge a bit on two corners (out of 56 corners–much happier this time).

Clutch on cordless drill

I also decided that instead of just gluing the backs in before painting, as I did in the closet organizer, I would paint and topcoat everything before I assembled the drawer fronts.  I have a tutorial on how to get a smooth painted finish without a spray gun if you want to see my process.  That meant that wood glue wouldn’t work and I’d have to nail these in with my nail gun.  I used 18 gauge 3/4″ nails.  Position the gun pointing down first.

Pin in plywood back drawer fronts

Then angle it back.  Please don’t have your person positioned directly behind the gun.  Be safe.  My brother had a stray nail go through a finger this summer while building a porch.  It doesn’t sound like fun to me and it happens fast.

Pin in plywood back drawer front

I’m not sure if this option was a better one than painting after.  It was easier to paint, certainly, and I didn’t have any pooling of topcoat in the corners.  But I did have this happen.  On two different drawers.  (Huh.  That made me swear just seeing the picture.  Didn’t expect that.)  This would be a nail through my beautifully finished drawer front.  I hit the trigger on the gun before I had it angled all the way back.  The other stray nail hit one of the pocket hole screws and came out the front.

oops nail through drawer front

If you own a nail gun you might as well make friends with a nail set (this is not the set that I have, mine was a hand-me-down, but this should give you a general idea of cost.  No need to spend a lot on one of these).  Pound that nail in (sometimes I snip it shorter first), being careful to reign in your frustration–you don’t want to repair a hole made from mad.  You want it below the surface of the wood so wood filler is on top.

Nail setFill it with some wood filler, sand, prime, paint, and topcoat.  See why I wasn’t thrilled?  Not sure which option I will pick next time.   I made my doors this way too, and I think I’ll glue them the next time since I had to fill all the holes after they were assembled.  You see the backs of doors!

These fit first time in–no trimming.  That was a wonderful treat and unfortunately it did not last through all of the door installations.

Inset drawer fronts attached 2

Don’t forget to leave a comment letting me know if a video on picking straight boards would be helpful!  If you’ve already been in a store and generally know what you are looking at, you won’t get much from what I filmed.  I also filmed my router table set up to make the rabbet in the back of the drawer fronts and I plan to edit that one for sure.

If this tutorial was helpful, I would love it if you shared it on your social media.  Your support makes my day!

Want to read more about this DIY home office built-in bookshelves and desk project?

Dining Room Built Ins {The Before Pictures}

Dining Room/Home Office {The Plans}

Dining Room/Home Office {Drawer Glides}

Dining Room/Home Office {Drawer Fronts}

Dining Room/Home Office {The Reveal}

Dining Room/ Home Office {How to make a Desktop or Countertop}

Dining Room/ Home Office {How to make a hanging file drawer with a Dremel}

Dining Room/ Home Office {How to Install Inset Door Hinges}

Dining Room/ Home Office {Make a pencil drawer}

Dining Room/ Home Office {Styled Bookshelves}

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