Pocket Hole joinery for drawer boxes

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Forum topic by Matt Przybylski posted 03-28-2013 08:44 PM 13588 views 1 time favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Matt Przybylski

580 posts in 2989 days

03-28-2013 08:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: pocket screws kreg jig drawers cabinets

Hey everyone,
Im working on my miter stand cabinet system and am designing the drawers. I was thinking about using 1/2” ply all around (including the bottoms) and 3/4” false front. For the joinery, I wanted to use pocket screws (the Kreg mini jig version for 1/2” ply) to connect the front and back to the sides, AS WELL AS using those same pocket screws to connect the 1/2” bottom to the 1/2” sides/front/back from the bottom. Does anyone see any issues with this system as far as strength/rigidity? Should I add glue as well to all joints or do you think just the pocket screws will be fine? The drawers are 22 1/2” wide by roughly 22” deep, ranging from 4” tall to about 12” tall.

I’m trying to be as economical as possible while working as fast as possible to get this project done.

-- Matt, Arizona,

25 replies so far

View rustynails's profile


884 posts in 3140 days

#1 posted 03-28-2013 08:49 PM

I have made pocket whole drawers for some of my shop cabinets and they work fine and being in a shop they take on more than a normal drawer I would think. Add the glue….

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2719 days

#2 posted 03-28-2013 09:00 PM

All of my shop drawers are plywood, pocket screwed and glued. So far, they’ve all held fine – even my 2’ x 3’ hardwood scrap drawer. Pocket screws are almost shockingly strong.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

580 posts in 2989 days

#3 posted 03-28-2013 09:07 PM

Thats great news! Are the bottoms of your drawers pocket holed as well? 1/2” ply?

-- Matt, Arizona,

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8550 posts in 2593 days

#4 posted 03-28-2013 10:24 PM

I’ll be the stinker and say shop stuff is a great way to practice methods you might use on furniture. I use pocket holes on some shelves/dividers…but I would never use them on drawers for furniture.
I prefer locking rabbets. They are very strong, and fairly quick on a tablesaw with some practice.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3896 days

#5 posted 03-28-2013 11:43 PM


I’ve used pocket screws for a lot of applications, but never for a drawer construction. I’m not saying it won’t work or wouldn’t hold up, but I have to agree with BigRedKnothead on practicing doing some sort of locking joint for the drawer boxes. Dado the sides, front & back for the bottoms.

-- John @

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1916 posts in 2580 days

#6 posted 03-29-2013 12:58 AM

I have pocket screws on the eight drawers on my workbench. All of my workbench was found and recycled material. I glued and screwed them because I figured I would be opening/closing millions of times (sometimes being pissed off when something doesn’t work properly). I dadoed the drawer bottoms into the sides. The screws work great. But glue by all means, it never hurts to have extra insurance.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

580 posts in 2989 days

#7 posted 03-29-2013 01:08 AM

Kaleb, you dadoed the bottom AND pocket screwed it? Or just dadoed/glued it in? How thick are your bottoms and how far up is the dado from the absolute bottom of the drawer? If I dado 1/2” up for a 1/2” bottom I just don’t want to lose an inch in total from the drawers as some of my drawers are only 4” deep (I guess technically I’d only be losing 1/2” but still…)

-- Matt, Arizona,

View Marty5965's profile


161 posts in 2556 days

#8 posted 03-29-2013 01:13 AM

I have a Kreg jig and I think PS would be absolutely fine on the sides (only thing stronger in 1/2 in stock would be a dovetail IMO), as far as the bottoms, IDK. But thinking about it, your stock is only 1/2 inch so a rabbet would only be a 1/4 or 3/8 at most. I wouldn’t pocket hole the bottoms but a longer screw and glue up through the bottom into the sides and front would be as strong as the minimal rabbet you could get. Definitely glue as well, because of the thin stock.

-- Marty, Wilmington, OH, learning every day....

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3188 days

#9 posted 03-29-2013 01:50 AM

I’ve used pocket screws for drawers and for shop drawers, I actually prefer butt joints with long coarse thread screws. It’s just easier for me than bringing out the pocket hole jig.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6054 posts in 3020 days

#10 posted 03-29-2013 02:10 AM

No matter what method of joinery you use, glue will kick you in the butt when using it for shop applications. Sure as the sun rises in the East you will break, smash, stand on, fall into, or any other calmaity you can think of that will break this drawer. Why start over when you can repair a broken piece, put the screws back and move on with a real project??? Be as exotic as you like, some prefer to practice joints for shop builds for experience, but stay away from the glue! I build a set of drawers for a cabinet and glued then 15 years ago, the bottom fell out from saving myself from a nasty spill and broke the bottom out. Had to make a new one from the ground up, I was less than happy about it. (Laughing)

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View David Dean's profile

David Dean

608 posts in 3510 days

#11 posted 03-29-2013 03:16 AM

This is what I have been doing for the last 5 years and nock on wood havent had a dresser drawer come back yet.But I dont use pocket joinery the drawer’s are to havey for poeple with children so I use 3/4” ply wood for the front and back and for the side’s I use 1/2” ply wood and I predrill hole’s in both end of the 1/2” and then Irun a ribbit 3/8” form the bottom and 1/4” deep then I glue and scerw and a clamp helps.And the micro jig isnt all that Im the one who build shoe rack with it the blow outs where bad and belevie me I a big Kregs fan.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6054 posts in 3020 days

#12 posted 03-29-2013 03:20 AM

I use the same method for any shop drawer, minus the glue. How many have I decided to make inserts for and then added another slider, etc etc etc etc.. (Laughing)

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Scott C.'s profile

Scott C.

160 posts in 2662 days

#13 posted 03-29-2013 03:25 AM

I’m making a bedroom set with 1/2 ply and pocket screws, wish I had just done rabbats and glue. Drilling pocket screws for 14 drawers, 16 holes per drawer, PITA.

-- measure twice, cut once, swear and start over.

View Woodknack's profile


13026 posts in 2991 days

#14 posted 03-29-2013 06:48 AM

I’ve never used pocket screws for drawers, there are other methods that are simpler and quicker if you have a tablesaw or router table. My shop drawers (there aren’t many) are screwed from the side like David’s above. They’ve held up going on 14-15 years. I always cut a dado for the bottom.

-- Rick M,

View Bill7255's profile


428 posts in 2896 days

#15 posted 03-29-2013 11:28 AM

I love pocket holes and use them a lot. However I never use them where they can be seen. they are just ugly even when plugged. Like said before this, workshop cabinets are the perfect opportunity to practice on joint methods that could be used for furniture. I always dado the bottoms. Since you are adding false fronts you could just butt joint and screw, using dowels, locking miter table saw or router, dovetail using a jig or getting crafty and learning hand cut. These are my opinions and pockets will be strong, so it is up to you what you want to do.

-- Bill R

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