How to Build a Drawer Box
There are several different ways to construct a drawer box and today, I’ll share the method I use to construct them. I used to dread making them because to me, I could never get them right. Through “practice” (and for me, I mean a lot of practice!) I think I have finally mastered the art – or at least my style – of how to build a drawer box. Whether they are being constructed for an existing space or for a new project, the process is the same although there are a few differences.
Anyway, let’s get on with this show. There are generally two types of drawer fronts – inset and overlay. The construction method is the same for each type except for the size of the drawer front.
Start by measuring the opening for the drawer boxes as well as the depth of the cabinet. It is okay to use most of the depth of the cabinet for the boxes but they don’t need to be so long they hit the back of the cabinet. Stick with even numbers for the depth (12″, 14″, 16″, etc.) as that is how drawer slides are sold.
The only “rule” when planning drawer boxes is that when using drawer slides, the drawer boxes will always be 1″ narrower than the drawer opening. This allows for the drawer slide hardware to move freely. I’ve made the drawers too tight before and it is no fun to have to cut them down or worse – build another drawer box!
I prefer the flat, ball-bearing type of slides. They are easy to install and have a very smooth slide to them!
So now that the measurements have been taken, it is time to start cutting the pieces starting with the bottom. The measurements for the bottom will be 1-1/2″ narrower than the width (to allow for the sides) and 1-1/2″ shorter than the length (to allow for the front and back). Then cut the pieces for the sides, which will be 1-1/2″ shorter than the finished length of the drawer (to allow for the front and back). Drill pocket holes in all four edges of the bottom, and in each end of the sides. Attach the sides to the bottom using glue and pocket hole screws.
Now, cut the pieces for the front and back. If an inset drawer is being installed, the drawer front will be 3/8″ wider than the drawer box. This will keep the drawer slides from being visible when the drawer box is installed.
When installing the drawer slides, they will need to be positioned 3/4″ back from the edge of the opening to allow for the front. Once the drawer is installed, there will be a 1/8″ gap around all sides of the front so it slides smoothly and looks nice in the opening.
If an overlay drawer is being installed, the drawer front will overlap the box by 3/4″ on the sides, and 3/8″ at the top and bottom.
The drawer slides will be positioned at the edge of the opening.
For an easy tutorial on installing drawer slides, I wrote a tutorial awhile back on How to Install Drawer Slides. There may need to be a few minor adjustments to the drawer slides but for the most part, they are usually right on the first try! Trust me!
Have any questions on how to build drawer boxes? Leave a comment below!