Shop Cabinet with Dado Drawer Runner

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Forum topic by niagarabuzzsaw posted 03-03-2018 01:49 PM 1565 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 860 days

03-03-2018 01:49 PM


I would like to make some simple shop storage. A plywood cabinet with drawers than run in a dado is a really appealing plan – simple, modular and inexpensive. I’ve had my eye on this type of construction after seeing it first in Matthew Teague’s “Projects for Your Shop” and more recently on YouTube in a work bench build by Jeremy Schmidt

I’m eager to start a build but I am concerned about the strength of 1/4” ply for the dimensions that I am considering. I have a particular spot in the shop in mind for this cabinet and drawers would end up 25”W x 17”D. I’ll be cutting dadoes every 1.5” in the cabinet and plan on a combination of 1.5”, 3”, 4.5”, and 6” drawers. Drawers would all be glued and stapled. Smaller drawers would get bins and store hardware. Larger drawers would hold infrequently used tools i.e. biscuit joiner. I have considered 1/2” ply for the drawer bottoms. Ron Paulk uses 1/2” ply in his work trailer. Appropriate for a professional contractor but it seems overkill for my needs.

So – would 1/4” ply on a drawer measuring roughly 25”W x 17”D hold up? Especially since the 1/4” ply supports the drawers in the thin dadoes on the side.

Appreciate the help!

7 replies so far

View Robert's profile


3742 posts in 2253 days

#1 posted 03-06-2018 03:39 PM

Yes, use 1/2” ply.

Hardware can get heavy. Plus 1/2 allows for dados in bottom if desired.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View AlmostRetired's profile


221 posts in 1486 days

#2 posted 03-06-2018 06:23 PM

1/4 inch would work but the cost to go up to 1/2 from GOOD 1/4 stock isn’t enough to make me tale the chance.


View EvanRyan's profile


5 posts in 853 days

#3 posted 03-06-2018 07:27 PM

Watching this thread, I also want shop cabinets

View clin's profile


1113 posts in 1768 days

#4 posted 03-07-2018 12:31 AM

I would think 3/8” would be plenty for that size drawer (which I think is what he used in the video). But, nothing wrong with going 1/2” so you can store anvils and such. Because the drawer bottom is firmly attached to the sides, and not just floating in a dado like a common drawer construction, the bottom will be much stiffer making it sag less.

That’s a clever concept for some functional storage with the ability to arrange the drawers in any order. One thing I wonder about is how easily they can be pushed and pulled if loaded with something heavy like hardware.

Something else to consider, if you made the drawer box a bit smaller with 1/2” of clearance on each side, you could easily add standard drawer slides in the future if needed.

-- Clin

View niagarabuzzsaw's profile


5 posts in 860 days

#5 posted 03-07-2018 11:32 PM

Thanks everyone for the replies.

I gave it a lot of thought and decided to go with 1/4” ply. 1/4” dadoes in the cabinet sides gives me the most flexibility for the drawer depths that I’m looking for and I decided to build the cabinet from 1/4” x 5 ‘x 5’ Baltic Birch plywood. The stronger plies of BB should provide all the strength that I need across 24” of drawer span.

I’ll post after the build with my impressions. It will either work out as I hope or I’ll cry as I roast marsh mellows over an expensive plywood fire ;)

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5 posts in 860 days

#6 posted 03-30-2018 11:35 AM


Finished building, but went in a little different direction. After looking over my shop I decided to build a bank of drawers under my workbench instead of a cabinet with drawers. I ended up with 15 decent sized drawers. Drawers are 15.5” wide x 17.5” deep. They run in dadoes cut every 2” which gave me 2”, 4”, and 6” drawer heights. And all drawers are interchangeable. If anyone is planning on doing this in the future 1/4” BB ply bottoms are plenty stout.

View scribble's profile


222 posts in 2973 days

#7 posted 03-30-2018 02:01 PM

I really like this setup. I may have to adopt this in place of my old worn out kitchen cabinets in my shop.

-- If you can't read it Scribble wrote it!! “Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”

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