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I'm currently making the false fronts for 4 dresser drawers, which will be painted. The opening dimension is 30" wide by 7.5" tall, and my rails are 1.5" thick and the stiles are 3" thick, both made with 3/4" maple. i've already routed a 1/4" groove on all rails and stiles, centered, and now need the panel in the center. I was planning on using 1/2" ply for this panel - does this make sense? is it strong enough? I have a handy piece laying around of 3 layered ply. I thought i'd ask b/c i was thinking that the tongues around piece would be only about 1/4 thick (which would be about 1 and 1/2 layers worth of material.) THink this will last? the drawer pulls will go right through the ply and into the drawer so i can't imagine too much recurring stress on the tongues - although the final piece will be in a kids room, so will get knocked around a bit.
 

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I built some frame and panel drawer fronts of that height but about 22 inches wide and with 1.5 inch wide rails and stiles of oak. I used 1/4 inch plywood for the panel and it is working just fine. I would expect the 1/2 inch to be more than enough. Since it should work out that the back of the false front is flush it will be even better. There really should not be any pulling stress on the front at all since, as you said, the pull will actually attach directly to the drawer box.

I will mention though that I used a 1/2 inch deep groove to hold the panel and did 1 inch deep mortise and tenon joints to join the rails and stiles. Probably overkill for what it was.
 
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