Drawer boxes can seem intimidating, but building them is really simple, and this fool proof method will ensure your drawers fit perfectly inside your cabinet with only possible minor shim adjustments.
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- Drawer Slides
- Pocket Hole Jig or Budget Pocket Hole Jig
- Table Saw and Push Stick
- Wood Glue
- Pocket Hole Screws
- Measuring Tape
- Nail Gun (Only if you are not making grooves in your drawer and simply attaching your bottom panel to the bottom of your box)
- Pocket Hole Clamp
The first step is to install your drawer slides in your cabinet box. If the face frame extends beyond the sides of the cabinet box, you will need to install shims or spacers to make the sides of the cabinet box the same width as the face frame. Then use a spacer board on the bottom of the cabinet box so you can install both slides to the same height. I like to use a 1×2 board so it is spaced 1.5″ from the bottom of the cabinet box.
Cut the sides of your drawer box to the correct depth. The opening of my cabinet was 14″ high and 18″ deep, so I cut my sides to 11″ high and 16.5″ deep, but you can make your drawer boxes any size you want as long as the drawer slide is slightly shorter than the depth of your box (I used a 16″ drawer slide). You can either install the other end of the drawer slide to these side pieces (using a .75″ scrap piece of wood on the bottom of the cabinet as a spacer) or just insert them inside the cabinet against the drawer slides. Then measure the distance between the side pieces. This measurement is how long to cut your front and back pieces. For reference, I then cut my front and back pieces to 11″ high (same as the sides) and 21″ wide.
Next you will make a groove in your front and back and side pieces using your table saw. Set the height of your blade to .25″ and set your fence so you are making the groove .5″ from the bottom of the pieces (My fence was set to 10.5″). Run all your pieces through the table saw to make a first groove. Then move your fence over 1/8″ and run all your pieces through a second time to make the groove .25″ wide to accommodate a 1/4″ piece of plywood. It will be snug, and you possibly will have to run your pieces through a third time to allow the plywood bottom to fit in the groove.
**If you are uncomfortable using a table saw for this step, skip it and you can attach your bottom panel by simply gluing and nailing it to the bottom of your box at the end.
Also, if you move the fence over more than 1/8″, you may be left with a small sliver of wood between the two grooves. If this happens, just take a chisel or a flat head screwdriver and run it through the groove to remove the excess wood.
Next, drill pocket three pocket holes on each end (ends that will align with the sides) of the front and back pieces (on the opposite side of the groove). If you have a smaller height box, you may only need two pocket holes on each end.
Now you can begin to assemble your box. Using a pocket hole clamp, glue and pocket hole screws, attach the first end of the front piece to the first side piece. Then attach the other end of the front piece to the second side piece.
Now you will need to measure to determine how big your 1/4″ panel will need to be. Measure the inside dimension of your box and at 3/8″ to each measurement to account for the groove. I add 3/8″ because if you add 1/2″ the fit will be quite snug and will be hard to fit the panel inside. So if your inside dimensions are 15 x 21, cut your panel to 15 3/8″ x 21 3/8″. Then slide your panel into the three sided box, then attach the back side of your box using glue and pocket hole screws.
**If you did not make grooves with your table saw, continue by securing your back side to your box, then measure the outside dimensions of your box and cut your bottom 1/4″ panel the same size. Put glue on the bottom edge of your box on all 4 sides, place your panel on top of the glue and use your nail gun and 1″ brad nails to attach the panel to the box.
If you haven’t already, attach the other end of the drawer slides to the sides of your box. The front of the drawer slide should be aligned with the front of the box. Make sure your slides are at the same height on both sides of the box (use a scrap spacer block!) and also make sure you do not install them too high on the sides so the bottom of your box will not fit in the cabinet. If you installed your cabinet side slides at 1.5″, make sure the drawer side slide is installed lower than that (I installed mine at .75″). Then all you have to do is slide your drawer into place! For your drawer face, you can either use a flat piece of wood or plywood with edge banding or you can follow my tutorial for How to Build a Cabinet Door to make a shaker style drawer front.
Sometimes, even a perfectly measured drawer will still have trouble opening and closing because the cabinet box is not completely square. If this is the case, the back end of your cabinet drawer slide problem needs a shim. To do this, take out the back screw from your cabinet drawer slide, then insert a shim between the back end of your drawer slide and the cabinet and then re-insert your screw to reattach the back end of your drawer slide. This may take some trial and error. If you have any questions, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out! The best way to reach me is my Instagram DMs. Sometimes I get a lot of messages at once, so if I don’t respond to your message after a couple days, send another one!