drawer box construction (bottoms)

sumacMarch 21, 2013

Okay, I know there are a ton of posts, and I've read them all...
but none of what I've read discusses the actual construction of the drawer box, other than dovetailed joints.

Looking at the construction specs of quite a few different lines, I see that the most common seems to be dovetailed joints with a fully captured 1/4 inch bottom. Which seems a bit flimsy to me compared to what i have now. My Kitchen Craft drawers are 5/8 construction front back sides and bottom. No they are not dovetailed but pinned and glued (kitchen craft is not constructed this way any longer unless you do the metal side upgrade) They have held up well for 18 years and seem very solid compared to everything I look at in the showrooms (1/4 inch fully captured bottoms)

I also see two lines that offer metal sides with 5/8 front and back with either 3/8 or 5/8 bottoms (one of which is an upgrade the other standard). Again not dovetailed but pinned or doweled.

So my question is: Is the thicker bottom construction really more sturdy as it seems to feel to me, or is the dovetailed joints with a fully captured 1/4" bottom actually the better construction? All are rated at 75lbs BTW

It's just nearly impossible to compare apples to apples when it comes to the construction of cabinets these days!!!

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Part of the issue is material- metal sides with typically have particle board bottoms- in that application it needs to be thicker. Possible your existing drawer bottoms are too.
As a rule 1/4" bottoms are adequate with dovetail joints. I have never seen one fail, never. That said, some brands will upgrade a drawer box bottom. I use that mod occasionally on wide drawers (over 30") that will hold heavy things. I don't do it because I'm worried about the bottom failing, rather to cut down deflection which can over stress drawer glides and their attachment.
My top end brand which is built using 1" thick frames only uses 3/8" bottoms.
And I guess to answer your question: I almost never sell the metal sided boxes, don't show them in the studio...
my personal preference is wooden dovetail drawers but that's simply an anachronistic affectation :) I'd confidently sell either, typically no cost difference.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 1:00PM
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My DH does drawers with 1/4 inch bottoms and for large drawers, he uses what he calls stretchers to reinforce them.

You can see the stretchers on the bottoms here

Here is a link that might be useful: Stretchers on drawers

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 1:21PM
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1/4" is more than enough for most drawers. We do put some hot glue on the back and add some screws for extra support but we have not had one fail. If someone is going to be storing something really really heavy then we have done them out of 3/4" but it very rare.

Travis Alfrey
Pinehurst, NC

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 1:27PM
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Thank you all for your opinions. This forum is the best place on the web to get information, and I for one am very grateful to all those that take the time to respond.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 3:38PM
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