Drawer Side Thickness

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Forum topic by Redoak49 posted 07-02-2017 10:41 PM 2157 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4355 posts in 2596 days

07-02-2017 10:41 PM

I am building a dresser 34” wide and 31” tall from Red Oak . The drawer boxes are about 29” wide, 17” deep and 6” tall and will be made from Ash with dovetail corners. The drawers will run on wooden runners with slick take.

The Ash stock is currently 3/4” thick and I think they look to heavy and considering reducing the thickness. What drawer material thickness do you think is best for this size drawer. The dresser is for my grand kids and i do want them sturdy.

16 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4255 days

#1 posted 07-02-2017 10:49 PM

1/2” oak is plenty strong for almost any drawer,
imo, but there are aesthetic reasons for going
thicker in an heirloom piece.

It’s interesting to note that 3/4” was not a standard
dimension in furniture making prior to power tools.
I had a Stanley #46 skew dado plane for awhile and
the 3/4” cutter is conspicuously absent to modern
users. Stanley never made the cutter because the
dimension was simply not used.

Anyway, 5/8” looks nice. It’s unexpected in today’s
uniform furniture world of 1/4” steps in sheet-board
thickness. You can go a little thinner or a little thicker
for some added interest. I think James Krenov
discusses thickness in one of his books. I like to
mill and use 4/4 stock as thick as I can get it for
a given milling run on a project. I think 7/8” looks
sturdier than 3/4” and it adds a handmade aesthetic
to deviate from the norm.

View martyoc's profile


44 posts in 1524 days

#2 posted 07-02-2017 10:55 PM

I think that 1/2 inch is a good size for hardwood drawers. I’ve used that for quite a few dresser and table drawers over the years. It is sturdy and is also thick enough if you wish cut dados for drawer bottoms .

-- Marty O'C

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5522 posts in 2917 days

#3 posted 07-02-2017 11:17 PM

1/2 for me. anything thicker looks to bulky to me. It’s personal taste if you asked me.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View jdmaher's profile


463 posts in 3187 days

#4 posted 07-02-2017 11:52 PM

I’m a 5/8” guy.

1/2” is probably plenty strong, but I do like the chunky feel of 5/8”

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Rich's profile (online now)


5145 posts in 1197 days

#5 posted 07-03-2017 12:16 AM

I m a 5/8” guy.

1/2” is probably plenty strong, but I do like the chunky feel of 5/8”

- jdmaher

+1 on 5/8”. I think it looks best. No rationale, just what appeals to my eye.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View jonah's profile


2092 posts in 3906 days

#6 posted 07-03-2017 12:27 AM

1/2” is pretty standard, but deeper drawers could probably benefit from a little more stability. 5/8” isn’t bad, depending on the piece. For deeper drawers I would go 5/8” and for regular sized ones 1/2” is fine

View Redoak49's profile


4355 posts in 2596 days

#7 posted 07-03-2017 01:18 AM

Thanks for the comments….I agree that 5/8” sounds good and a reasonable compromise between strength and too chunky.

Time to get the planer out and make some chips.

View Aj2's profile


2650 posts in 2405 days

#8 posted 07-03-2017 01:26 AM

I think somewhere between 1/2 and 5/8 is a good size.Also consider a center mount slide.When a drawer is wider then it is deep a center slide helps a lot.

-- Aj

View TarHeelz's profile


66 posts in 2688 days

#9 posted 07-03-2017 01:37 AM

9/16!!!!. Everybody else is totally wrong!

-- Tar Heelz, Durham, NC USA

View GT350's profile


377 posts in 2589 days

#10 posted 07-03-2017 04:19 AM

5/8” is my favorite.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6038 posts in 3421 days

#11 posted 07-03-2017 04:19 AM

I think 5/8” looks more elegant than 3/4”, but feels every bit as strong.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1170 posts in 3138 days

#12 posted 07-03-2017 06:18 AM

The drawers in my shop cabinets are approximately the same size, and made from 1/2” plywood. Plenty sturdy, and they carry a lot more weight than a dresser full of underwear and T-shirts ever would. And solid Ash is a lot stronger than plywood. So anything 1/2” thick or more would exceed your strength requirements by a large factor.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View Woodknack's profile


13017 posts in 2988 days

#13 posted 07-03-2017 07:24 AM

I just built a cabinet with 31” wide drawers, 1/2” material, no concerns at all about strength. Also have kitchen cabinets with drawers that wide, 1/2” material, loaded with pots and pans, no issues.

-- Rick M,

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4255 days

#14 posted 07-03-2017 07:36 AM

I think some of the arguments for 1/2” drawers
are a bit outmoded. For one, modern slides
mean the weight of the drawer isn’t as much of
an issue with smooth operation. It’s easy to observe
wear and sticky drawers in old chests with wooden
slides. Two, if you’re hand cutting dovetails, the
thinnest wood means the least amount of work
with a chisel.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5522 posts in 2917 days

#15 posted 07-03-2017 05:57 PM

I’ve made a ton of drawers over the years, Kitchens get 1/2 BB ply and furniture get solid wood. Never a problem with and size drawer. I make a lot of wide drawer. Really wide drawer get rack and pinion drawer slides. It really is more about eye appeal that draw strength.

1/4 inch BB ply is stronger that you’d think.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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