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Sizing drawers for cabinets

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Forum topic by DrTebi posted 10-21-2019 07:57 AM 469 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DrTebi

347 posts in 3802 days


10-21-2019 07:57 AM

This may be a simple question, but if you don’t ask you will never know

When planning a cabinet with drawers, and the cabinet interior opening is 24”, do you make your drawers 24” wide, and once everything is done, plane them down to fit?

Or do you deliberately make the drawers maybe 1/16” smaller on all sides?

The drawers will be solid wood, so planing them to fit later should work I guess?


18 replies so far

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Madmark2

538 posts in 1124 days


#1 posted 10-21-2019 01:10 PM

Assuming no metal drawer slides, cut the drawer 1/16 to 1/8 smaller so the drawer won’t bind. Sanding/planing to fit makes no sense when you could have made the drawer to fit to begin with.

M

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Robert

3555 posts in 2016 days


#2 posted 10-21-2019 01:37 PM

Yes, make them the same width as the opening. You are correct, clean up the joinery & plane down to fit after assembly.

I have to disagree with MM^ from experience I know if you do this by the time you get it cleaned up it will be to loose.

Tip: make the backs 1/16” shorter this will help them slide a bit easier.

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

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JackDuren

485 posts in 1495 days


#3 posted 10-21-2019 02:42 PM

to start snug may be okay, same size is not okay..

Drawers can shrink or grow depending on climate.

I’ll agree with MadMark on this one…

But you really didn’t state whether this was a kitchen cabinet or a piece of furniture…

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SMP

1419 posts in 441 days


#4 posted 10-21-2019 03:29 PM

I think there are still some unknowns. Are you making the fronts flush with the drawer boxes, dovetailed,etc? Or are the fronts screwed onto the boxes? What are you using for runners/rails if any?

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GR8HUNTER

6549 posts in 1248 days


#5 posted 10-21-2019 03:40 PM

agreeded need more info :<((

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

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JackDuren

485 posts in 1495 days


#6 posted 10-21-2019 04:02 PM


I think there are still some unknowns. Are you making the fronts flush with the drawer boxes, dovetailed,etc? Or are the fronts screwed onto the boxes? What are you using for runners/rails if any?

- SMP

Not sure fronts,dovetailed, screwed or not has anything to do with the size of the drawer box without hardware…

It just complicates the original question…

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Wintergreen78

45 posts in 275 days


#7 posted 10-21-2019 04:30 PM

I make the drawers the same size as the opening, then plane the to fit after they are glued up. That is for dovetailed, flush front, solid wood drawers done by hand. Also, I’m just doing this for fun. Someone using machines or doing it for a living might have a different approach.

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DrTebi

347 posts in 3802 days


#8 posted 10-21-2019 08:21 PM

Thanks for the replies. There seem to be two schools of thought here.

The drawers will have box joints in the front, the back will sit in rabbets. I will be using a face frame, so the drawers will be proud of the cabinets initially.

I will use wooden guide rails mounted to the cabinet, and corresponding slots in the drawer sides. I have used this on another cabinet, and it works great. In case you are wondering… I don’t remember whether I made the drawers smaller for that cabinet, or planed them down later :)

Most likely I will make the drawers the same size as the opening, and plane them to fit later. Might be a bit more work, but I would like a nice snug fit.

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therealSteveN

4079 posts in 1109 days


#9 posted 10-21-2019 09:58 PM

“Most likely I will make the drawers the same size as the opening, and plane them to fit later. Might be a bit more work, but I would like a nice snug fit.”

Going that route you will be able to control the snugness, making them less than, and you’ll almost always end up rattling around.

You can dry assemble them, then once you know the joinery is good, take them apart, and just take some slight shavings off. Try it, do that a few times, and you will understand the words “fitting a drawer”

As said the width of the drawer box, isn’t reliant in any way on the face. That is a separate issue. The only time the width needs to be changed is if you add a metal drawer slide. Even wooden rails can be let into the wooden drawer side, so not much, if any factoring there.

-- Think safe, be safe

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LeeRoyMan

331 posts in 262 days


#10 posted 10-21-2019 10:05 PM


I will use wooden guide rails mounted to the cabinet, and corresponding slots in the drawer sides.

- DrTebi


Then the size of the drawer isn’t as critical, just make it a little smaller.
You just need to fit the guide rails to the corresponding slots.

Make your rails fit tight, and, (if they are screwed on) you can unscrew them and shave a little off on the table saw until you get them the way you want them.

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JackDuren

485 posts in 1495 days


#11 posted 10-22-2019 02:29 AM

As mentioned the box doesn’t have to be critical. The rails to to the grove will ..

Here is how i do mine…

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DrTebi

347 posts in 3802 days


#12 posted 10-22-2019 09:32 AM

Great info, thanks.

I have done my wooden guides and the slot in the drawer pretty much the same way. It may look a bit experimental (the front and the handles were a bit of an impromptu project), but it works really well.

Curious: Do you have some tips on how to mount the guide rail just in the perfect position? Or is it a simple affair of measuring?

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JackDuren

485 posts in 1495 days


#13 posted 10-22-2019 01:18 PM

I didn’t use anything to line them up other the the drawer end before assembly. The drawer guides did have a small amount of play before tightening. You could use a counterbore bit which would give a small amount of play to line up… this is the way I would do anymore…

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DrTebi

347 posts in 3802 days


#14 posted 10-22-2019 05:18 PM

Great idea, thanks!

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JimDwight

12 posts in 575 days


#15 posted 10-22-2019 10:27 PM

I have done side hung drawers but don’t any more. They work fine but so do simpler drawers that just rest on the frame separating the space for the drawer. I also don’t use metal slides. Wood on wood moves fine with a little wax. I dovetail all 4 corners because once the jig is set up it takes no more time than a dado.

I make drawers at least 1/16 smaller than the opening. Usually I would make them 3/32 smaller. But if you are more comfortable making them full size and doing a bunch of cutting or planning that will work. But I’ve done enough drawers that mine generally fit fine.

I also like to make drawers full depth and let the back of the cabinet stop them. For me that has always worked fine. But my he man son put one in hard enough to push the back out. His wife gave him heck. Wasn’t hard to fix. He would likely have overpowered a stop too.

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