How thick are your Drawers bottoms........ strength???

pudleboyJune 16, 2009

Just got my cabinets installed and have opted for lots of drawers. I loaded one of my drawers and have some concerns about the weight. The drawer is seven incehs deep and I put 10 plates 6 bowls and 10 snall plates in the drawer. So The capacity is great.....but I noticed the drawer bottom is flexing. I looked at the bottom and it is 1/4 inch plywood. The drawers are solid wood construction.

I never thought about this during the planning stage. My question thick are your drawer bottoms and do these drawers need reinforced or will they be ok over time?

I dont want my drawers all bowed and falling apart in 6 months. How are drawer bottoms usually built?

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I can't believe they used 1/4" in the bottom of the drawers. I doubt that will hold up well over time. My drawers are Blume metaboxes so they have metal sides with integrated slides and they have 3/4" melamine in the bottoms. They are VERY strong, even the 36" wide drawers where I store all of my heavy cassarole dishes. Most drawer slides have at least a 75 lb capacity, but I doubt your drawer bottom could even come close to that especially on a larger drawer. Does your contract with your cabinet supplier state what thickness of wood will be used in the drawers?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 8:21AM
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In the great ply vs particleboard debate the thiness of both the ply and particleboard used is often overlooked (thin particleboard would be even worse). With drawers I decided 5\8 melamine covered particleboard was a good minimum, we didn't go over 30" wide with the drawers and have had no problems so far.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 9:18AM
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We also have deep drawers in the lower cabinets with Blum metabox sides and 5/8" maple plywood in the bottoms. Each drawer can hold 100 pounds easily.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 9:40AM
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I wondered if my deep drawers will hold my mixing bowls and serving plates. They all seem pretty heavy.

I might be a spaz...I can't figure out how to measure the bottom!! And I have no idea what wood it is. We have plywood sides, does that mean it's plywood??

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 11:59AM
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I went back and looked at the specs for thomasville and Kraftmaid et al and it seems that the 1/4" bottom may be a standard spec.

My drawers are solid wood on the sides back and front.
They have 1/4" or 5/16" plywood on the bottom.
My widest drawers are 30" and I have two of these.
the rest are 27" and smaller so I think they will be ok.

I am concerned about the 30" drawers. Do those in the know think I can get away with the bottoms as is.... or should I get the cabinet guy to build two new drawers with thicker bottoms? I don't think the current drawers can be reinforced due to the use of the soft (blum type) close glides. Does any one have any advice on the smaller drawers as well? If thicker what would be the correct thickness to take the stress?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 1:38PM
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Our drawer bottoms are 5/8" plywood. It is overkill on our smaller drawers - I could see the sense of doing 3/8" on a shallow 24" wide drawer to get the extra quarter inch of usable height. But I'm glad its there on the big drawers. I'm astounded that someone does 1/4" bottoms on big drawers. Perhaps a reinforcement could be attached under the drawer going front to back in the area between the drawer glides - that shouldn't interfere with them. Your cabinet guy could probably order drawer boxes with thicker bottoms and attach the drawer fronts to them.

laurielep, you could figure out the thickness of your drawer bottom by measuring the height of the drawer side on the outside of the drawer, then measure the distance between the top of the drawer side and the drawer bottom and the distance between the bottom of the drawer side and the drawer bottom. The thickness of the drawer is the first measurement minus the second two. Or you could see if the specs for your cabinets give the information.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 5:51PM
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This should be a Warning to those that are following the suggestion to add drawers not doors. Watch your bottoms. It never occurred to me that I would need a thicker door due to the weight. Call me dumb. With everything else to think about it just never came to mind.

I don't recall it being mentioned in the door vs. drawer debates on garden web either. If I had known I could have specified it from the beginning. Now I have to have the drawers rebuilt or reinforced. Although with the slides and soft close mechanism I don't see where there is room to put any thing to bolster the build.

Cloud Swift who built your cabinets?
Those seem really thick. I checked specs for HD and Lowe's and they all use the 1/4 inch plywood in their door bottom construction.
Cloud Swift did you request that thickness or was it the cabinet makers suggestion?
I must admit I said Oh crap.... I bought plate holders at Ikea, which really holds the dishes in place. But when I started loading the drawer I thought.....Oh MY this is going to be heavvvy.....I hope the drawer can handle all this weight. The dishes are very heavy pottery material and come from Pier One. Another alternative is to dump the new plates in favor of melmac.

Laurielep I suggest you weigh your mixing bows and find out what you are dealing with. Chances are your drawers are like mine. To measure them pull out a drawer and look on the back or the sides and you can easily see how thick the drawer is.

This issue emerged when I decided to replace doors with drawers from my old configuration. But I did not make the connection that the standard drawers would not work when they grew deeper and wider. I think my cabinet maker just followed the same spec for small utility drawers and furniture by habit. It never occurred to me that I would need a thicker more substantial drawer.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 6:25PM
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My Crown Point cabinets have 1/2 inch plywood drawer bottoms which are standard. I have a 36 inch drawer stack that holds heavy pots and pans.

I wonder why some of your drawers are 1/4" and others are 5/16"?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 6:33PM
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Do all your drawers including your small drawers have 1/2 inch plywood? I went back and looked at my old cabinets and found them to contain 1/4" particle board. These have held up fine for 15 years but they are small and have not had to carry a lot of weight.
I am sorry if I was unclear. I was guessing at the size but after pulling most of them out and putting a ruler to them they are all 1/4".

If any one is familiar with drawer construction can you tell if anything can be done to reinforce those drawers that will be carrying a load of heavy dishes and pots?

Here is a link that might be useful: Pudleboy's NuKitchen

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 7:20PM
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Yes, pudleboy, all the drawers have the same plywood on the bottoms. I had asked my KD if the big pot drawers needed extra reinforcement or stronger glides, and she reassured me that they did not.

I'm surprised that so many other people have drawers with thicker bottoms (5/8"). I hope my drawers will prove to be sturdy enough in the long run.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 7:47PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks for the warning, Pudleboy. I've put it on my list.

Can you get a closeup picture of a drawer bottom and side? Maybe the bottom can be reinforced with a sheet of metal.

At least they LOOK good!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 7:55PM
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fori---- Thanks fori I am happy with the workmanship and the final result will be a big improvement. Had I been thinking and aware i would have had the cabinet guy use thicker wood. Live and learn. Hopefully other GW's will be better prepared as a result.

I checked the pantry drawers and found them to be 1/2" so much better there. It looks like the drawers are a tight fit already and I may not be able to fit anything in there to shore it up. I will take it up with the cabinet guy to see if he can build me some more drawers.

I took a pic of the drawer bottom and side but can't post it on flikr since it is froze until the first of next month.

Any ideas on a quick fix other than making new drawers?

Anyone know another way to post pics?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 8:20PM
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The Ikea melamine is 5/8" thick. .25" is really thin in my opinion and will not hold much weight. Is this something that the manufacturer can fix?
Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 8:48PM
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Our cabinets are DeWils and that is their standard construction. We had a choice of Blum metal drawers or dovetailed wood drawers. Both had the same bottom thickness. The are a semi-custom cabinet brand around the border between high end and middle quality cabinet makers.

I don't understand why you feel that the drawer glides prevent you from reinforcing the bottom of the drawer. The glides and soft close mechanism are only within a couple of inches of each side of the drawer. Why can't some reinforcement be added to the middle between the guides? It would go from the back of the drawer to the front underneath parallel to the guides and between them.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 9:51PM
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erikanh, I think 1/2 inch plywood bottoms should be sturdy enough.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 10:32PM
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I think 1\4 inch ply or particle board would be fine for a light duty drawer (probably no more than 18" wide and 6"-8" high) but for deep wide drawers it will probably be a problem over time.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 11:22PM
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Thank you for showing me how to measure :)
Mine are 1/4 inch and 23 inches wide.
I guess I will have to move my bowls and glass cookware.

This is one of those little things I wish I knew about when ordering the cabinets. I would have X'd the deep drawers or upgraded for a thicker bottom if they had.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 6:56AM
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If you were to cut a sheet of 1/2" plywood to fit the inside of the drawer and install it using a liberal amount of adhesive between the two layers of plywood, that should take care of the problem. It would essentially turn your 1/4" plywood into 3/4" plywood. It wouldn't be quite as strong, but it would be very close. You could also drive a few finishing nails or small screws into the sides of the drawers and into the new plywood to further strengthen it.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 8:03AM
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I think one could cut a piece of 1/4 inch or perhaps 3/8 inch plywood cut to fill most of the area between the glides and glue it to the bottom of drawer between the glides. It would provide similar strengthening to ccoombs piece glued inside the drawer but wouldn't reduce the usable inside height of the drawer.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 10:40AM
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I can only tell you the things I know about this. I have made quite a few drawers for cabinets, and I have always used ½" Baltic Birch Plywood throughout, excepting only the drawers I made for my wife's vanity, which were of poplar. It's been a long time since I made those drawers, so I don't remember if I used ¼" Baltic Birch or ½" Baltic Birch, but they are narrow drawers that carry very little weight, so it's a moot point, really.

In your circumstance, pudleboy, I can tell you that ¼" bottoms are not going to support that kind of weight, especially if they are already sagging. It will not get better, only worse.

I have made some huge drawers, thirty inches wide and twelve inches deep, because I just make my drawers to fit the intended contents, but none of those really wide drawers have carried much weight. One of them is for hats, another for blanketsÂthat sort of thing.

Personally, old woman that I am when it comes to this sort of thing, if I were making a drawer thirty inches wide that was intended for dishes, I would probably use a ¾" bottom. Actually, I am going to do that for an upcoming project, but I've not gotten to the actual construction of it, so I'm still dickering back and forth between ½" and ¾". But that's for my own home. If I were doing it for a client, I would undoubtedly go to ¾" because I don't want the grief of an unhappy client.

In view of the weight you are putting in them, I think you would be happier if you had those drawers rebuilt with ¾" bottoms. I don't know of any way of reinforcing them that would work as an add-on. I would be leery of simply gluing in another bottom on top of the old. And if I were going to rebuild them, why use ½", knowing that this might still cause a problem?

Finally, a few who responded wanted to know what drawer bottoms are made of. The really cheap ones use Medium Density Fiberboard or Particleboard, but those are very cheap drawers. Most drawers, regardless of what the sides are made of, will use plywood for the bottoms because it is easier to glue the bottom in. (It has to do with wood movement, which must be taken into account if you use a solid wood bottom.) It also makes for a stronger construction when the plywood bottom can be glued on all sides, which cannot be done with a solid wood bottom. As for the thickness, I use ½" Baltic Birch throughout, both sides and bottom. Some people use ¼" bottoms, but I think those people are cutting way too many corners when they make that kind of choice.

But whenever you get cabinets made for you, even when they're semi-custom, a good cabinetmaker, or designer, is supposed to ask questions, like, "What do you mean to put in these drawers, ma'am?" And when the client is contemplating loading up her drawers with dishes, the proper response is to make a drawer that will hold up to that.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinet & Furniture Trends &...

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 2:05PM
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Joseph 7505 ----After looking at the drawers closely I have come up with what may be solution.

First, the track mechanisms are already installed under the drawer and the drawer is sized to fit the opening in the cabinet. To rebuild the door with thicker bottoms would require a complete tear down and rebuild and resizing the drawer to fit.

What about if I get the cabinet maker to cut a 1/2" sheet of plywood to fit the inside of the drawer. Remove the front Drawer door panel and glue the new 1/2" piece to the 1/4" bottoms then place screws through the front and rear of the drawer for stability...then reinstalling the Drawer door.

I don't think screws can be used on the drawer sides as the track mechanism is tight to the sides.
Joseph 7505 do you think this would strengthen it enough that I could load up the doors without bowing and sagging?

It would decrease the depth of the drawers by 1/2". Which I can live with.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 5:09PM
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Everyone check your bottoms!
I complained to my cabinet guy today about my thin bottoms. I told him about the drawers flexing under loading. He said that is not acceptable and he agreed that the current drawer guage on the large drawer bottoms will not work. He said they should not have been built so light. He will remedy by building new boxes or strengthening existing drawers to accomodate heavier weights. 10 drawers in all are affected. If I had not complained I would be out of luck in a few years when the bottoms started falling out. He did not blame me or say that was what was in the specs.

Laurielep contact your cabinet builders asap and express dissatisfaction and ask for a remedy.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 5:18PM
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it sounds like you have a very responsible cabinet guy. Good for him to step up and fix the problem instead of trying to weasel out of it like so many people try to do.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 7:19AM
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Very timely post as we just ordered our cabinets a couple of weeks ago. I called the cabinet maker yesterday to inquire about their standards. They use 1/4" bottoms in any drawer 24" wide or narrower and 1/2" in anything wider. When I mentioned we would be putting pots, pans, dishes, etc in our drawers they offered to upgrade all drawer bottoms to 1/2" no charge, which we gladly accepted.

Thanks Pudleboy and others for bringing this to our attention.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 8:45AM
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"Everyone check your bottoms!"

Hee hee.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 10:36AM
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This has got me very concerned. We're in the process of designing now with Diamond cabinets from Lowes (which are the same manufacturers as Thomasville, I believe). Right now I have two deep drawers that are 36" and two at 33" in another cabinet. I have a call into the designer now. I was planning on using some of the drawers for pots/pans and some for dishes. They're rated up to 100 lbs. but no way do I want them sagging. I hope they can make them better than 1/4" on the bottom. I know that they must have to put stronger glides on them to support the weight, but construction-wise...I don't know.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 11:18AM
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I did talk to our Lowes KD today who put me in touch directly with the Diamond rep. He said he's never had this question before and they've never had issues with the bottoms failing on the drawers. I explained that I'm concerned with bowing of the drawers even if they stay attached. He confirmed that they only use 1/4" plywood for drawers of this span (we have two 33" and two 36" drawers planned) and that they're rated to hold up 15 lbs per sq ft. I want to use them for ceramic dishware and my heavy cast iron Le Creuset cookware. He said they don't have a provision to increase drawer bottom size. I can't see how they're NOT going to bow/flex for a span that size given it's only 1/4". Seems very under-constructed to me. They're rated to hold 90 to 110 lbs using heavier glides, but, as I explained to him, that doesn't mean they won't hold without bowing. He hasn't gotten back to me yet; he said he was going to contact the factory directly. Any advice anyone? These are Diamond cabinets.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 6:34PM
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I made mine with 1/4" prefinished birch ply. This is for the undermount blum slides.
I could have added a cross piece to strengthen them but the bottoms are held along all four edges. The biggest drawer is about 30" long x 20" wide.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 6:55PM
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Erikanh, hee hee back. I've been hee-heeing about this thread title ("how thick are your drawers") and "show me your knobs" for a while, now. I definitely have a juvenile sense of humor, though. ;-)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 7:56PM
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Because of this thread I asked my salesman about the all ply Mid Continent cabinet drawers I'm considering, and he said that yes, they to will be 1/4" standard. However, on the larger ones, he did pull one out and show me a strip running center front to back on the bottom for reinforcement. That made me feel better.
I'm surprised that KCMA certifies a drawer that thin, though for large drawers. I totally agree that even though the drawer glides are rated to hold 110# doesn't mean a thing when it comes to the drawer itself sagging.
I was hoping to get 30" drawers, but they said I had to have 27" for my pots and pans area. There will be 6 so I know I can fit everything but the interior will still only be 22.25. I doubt I can put enough in there to cause a problem!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 8:02AM
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Oh no, now I have more checking to do. I think I asked the salesman if the drawer bottoms were 1/4" thick and I was concerned about that, but he never actually verified that. He just showed me that strip that re-enforces it. When I go to the Mid C site though, it tells me that all drawer bottoms are 1/8" thick!! Yeah, I guess they do have to have a reinforcement. But, only a glued down strip???

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 9:02PM
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