How to build sliding drawers: How To Build A Drawer For Beginners + Installing Them Perfectly

How To Build A Drawer For Beginners + Installing Them Perfectly

This is a complete beginner’s guide on how to build a drawer. Learn three beginner-friendly techniques to build and install the perfect drawers every time.


Jump to:

  • How to build furniture with drawers
  • Basics of drawer design
  • How to build the drawer box
  • How to attach drawer slides
  • How to install the drawer front and hardware
  • How To Build A Drawer For Beginners

Building drawers are almost like a rite of passage for woodworkers.

The very first time I built a drawer was for this X-leg accent table and literally made a box in a box and didn’t even bother with drawer slides.

The next build with drawers was the Clara bedside table. It took me forever and 3 versions of the drawer box to finally get one drawer square and working!

When I built the Emerson buffet, I was extra careful from the very beginning and focused on keeping everything square and it worked!! The very first time!!

Since then, I have built many many drawers and I no longer fear a drawer in my build. In fact, I love building them.

Let’s dive into everything you need to know to build drawers with confidence.

***This post contains referral or affiliate links. It is a way for this site to earn advertising fees by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services.  Please read my full disclosure here ***

How to build furniture with drawers

The ONE key thing to remember when building drawers is:

Square – this is the most important thing when building anything with drawers.

You want to make sure that the box where your drawer is installed is square AND the drawer box is square.

Not sure what “making it square” means? Here is how to check for square and how to fix it.

This means that your preparation for a drawer starts from the very beginning of the build. You want to make sure all the boards are

  • Straight and flat
  • Cut accurately
  • Attached precisely and at a right angle.

***This post contains referral or affiliate links. It is a way for this site to earn advertising fees by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services.  Please read my full disclosure here ***

When you are designing a piece of furniture with drawers, there are a few things to consider.

What is the overall look of the drawer?

Is the drawer inset or overlay? This will determine the dimensions of your drawer front and how you attach the drawer slides.

Personally, I love making inset drawers but overlay drawers are great in situations like in a kitchen or just depending on the look of the furniture.

I used overlay drawers on the cane nightstand and inset drawers on this simple nightstand.

What is the best wood to make drawers out of?

Dimensional boards of solid wood and plywood are both great options for drawers.
½″ and ¾″ materials can both be used to build the drawers.

I usually use ¾″ because I use them for my projects and usually have enough for the drawers.

What are the best drawer slides to use?

There are many options for drawer slides.

My favorite is the ball-bearing full-extension drawer slides. These are durable and easy to install and the full extension makes the drawers easy to use. These are also available in soft-close versions.

Let’s dive into how to figure out the actual dimensions of the drawer you need for your project.

How to calculate the size of the drawer box

  • Width of the drawer box: Take into account the thickness of the drawer slides and decide the width of the drawers accordingly. The drawer slide should come with information on that.
    • The ball-bearing slides that I use are usually ½″ on each side. Therefore, my drawer box width is 1″ smaller than the opening.
  • Depth of the drawer box. This will depend on if the drawer front is inset or overlay.
    • With an overlay, you can use almost the entire depth of the opening for the box.
    • With the inset, you have to subtract the thickness of the drawer front.
  • Dimension of the drawer front
    • If making an inset drawer, you want to leave a ⅛″ gap all around the drawer front to help in movement.
    • For overlay drawers, the dimensions will depend on your overall project.

How to build the drawer box

There are many ways to build drawer boxes – from using basic joinery to dovetails.

Here I am sharing three of the simplest ways to make drawer boxes that are perfect for beginners.

Technique #1: How do you make a simple drawer

The simplest way to build a drawer is with simple nails or screws and glue.

After all, it is just a box 🙂

What you need
  • Boards for drawer box
  • ¼″ plywood for your base
  • 1 ¼″ wood screws or 1 ¼″ trim head screws
  • 1 ¼″ panel nails and hammer or Brad nailer and 1 ¼″ finish nails
  • countersink bit
  • Wood Glue. I like to fill the glue in my favorite glue dispenser.
  • Power drill/driver
  • miter saw or circular saw to make the cuts
  • speed square
  • tape measure – this is my favorite one with printed fractions and decimals
How to build

Step 1: Make the cuts

  • Make all the cuts you need for the drawer box.

The key is to make sure that the two opposite sides are EXACTLY the same length. This will help keep the drawer square. Even a difference of 1/16″ can cause problems later.

Step 2: Attach the sides

  • Apply wood glue on the edge of the front and back and attach to the side pieces using countersunk wood screws or trim head screws.
  • Make sure to align the pieces to 90 degrees using a square. This is very important.

This is the perfect time to check for square and make any adjustments if needed.

Step 3: Attach the bottom

  • Apply glue on the bottom and attach the bottom using wood glue and nails. Staples are recommended but nails work too. You can even use the trim head screws.

Be sure to check for square at this point as well.

And that is the simplest possible DIY drawer.

Technique # 2: Building a drawer with pocket holes

Building a drawer box using pocket holes is very straightforward and easy. It is pretty much exactly like the simple box except that the joints are made using pocket holes.

The advantage of using pocket holes over countersunk screws or nails is that pocket holes are stronger and can make for heavy-duty drawers.

What you need
  • Boards for drawer box
  • ¼″ plywood for the base
  • Pocket hole jig(see which Kreg Jig is right for you)
  • 1 ¼″ pocket hole screws
  • 1 ¼″ panel nails and hammer or Brad nailer and 1 ¼″ brad nails
  • Wood Glue. I like to fill the glue in my favorite glue dispenser.
  • Power drill/driver
  • miter saw or circular saw to make the cuts
  • speed square
  • tape measure – this is my favorite one with printed fractions and decimals

How to build

I am assuming you are using ¾” thick stock. Adjust the pocket hole jig settings and screws according to the thickness of your material.

Step 1: Make the cuts and pocket holes

  • Make the cuts required for the drawer box ensuring that the cuts are precise.
  • Make pocket holes on both ends of the front and back pieces.

Step 2: Build the box

  • Build the drawer box using wood glue and 1 ¼” pocket screws keeping all the sides square.

Step 3: Attach the bottom

  • Glue and nail a ¼” plywood base cut to the size of the drawer box.

Ensure that the box is square and fix for square as needed.

That is it! That is a simple drawer using pocket hole screws.

Technique #3: Building a recessed bottom drawer using pocket holes

This is a little bit of an advanced technique and involves cutting a groove in the drawer fronts and sides.

I have recently started using this technique and although it needs a couple of extra steps, it is easy to make sure everything is square.

What you need
  • Boards for drawer box
  • ¼″ plywood for base
  • Kreg Jig (see which Kreg Jig is right for you)
  • 1 ¼″ pocket hole screws
  • Table Saw or router table
  • Dado stack (optional – I will show you how to do without it)
  • Wood Glue. I like to fill the glue in my favorite glue dispenser.
  • Power drill/driver
  • miter saw or circular saw to make the cuts
  • speed square
  • tape measure – this is my favorite one with printed fractions and decimals

How to build

Step 1: Make the cuts and pocket holes

  • Make the cuts required for the drawer box. Make sure that the cuts are accurate.

Step 2: Make the grooves

This can be done using a table saw or a router table. Here is how I do it with a table saw and without a dado stack:

  • Set the blade height to ⅜″. This is about half the thickness of the plywood or board you are using for the drawer box.
  • Set the fence at ¾″ from the blade. This is where the groove will be created.
  • Pass the board through the blade and make the cut. This will result in a groove. The groove is not wide enough for the ¼″ plywood yet.
  • Pass all the boards through to make sure you get the groove at the same distance from the fence.
  • Move the fence by 1/16″ towards the blade.
  • Pass the board through again. Check to see if the ¼″ plywood fits.
  • If it doesn’t fit, move the fence 1/16″ towards the blade again and test.
  • Once the plywood fits, pass all the boards through and make the cut.

You should now have all the sides with a groove for a ¼″ plywood.

Step 3: Make pocket holes

  • Make pocket holes on the front and back of the drawer box. The pocket holes are made with a ¾″ setting and on the face that does not have the groove.

Step 4: Build the three sides

  • Assemble the three sides of the drawer box – the front and the two side pieces using wood glue and 1 ¼” pocket screws.

Ensure that the grooves line up on the inside.

Step 5: Attach the bottom of the drawer

  • Slide in the ¼″ bottom panel.
  • You can add a little wood glue in the grooves to make the base stronger.

Step 6: Attach the last side

  • Add the back of the drawer box using pocket hole screws and wood glue.

This is the drawer box.

Since we made sure that the grooves were cut perfectly at the same places, it is very easy to get a square box.

There you have the 3 ways to build a drawer box. You can get started with technique #1 and work your way up to technique #3.

How to attach drawer slides

Once the drawer box is ready, it is time to attach them.

I will be covering ball-bearing slides here since those are the ones I use 99% of the time.

Other types of slides can be attached using similar principles.

Step 1: Separate the drawer slide.

  • Squeeze the black tab to separate out the two parts of the drawer slide.

Step 2: Attach the frame side

Before attaching the slides to the frame, you want to decide if you have an overlay or inset drawer front.

  • For an inset drawer, you need to leave space for the drawer front on the inside of the frame.
  • For an overlay, you don’t have to leave any space.

For an inset drawer –

  • Mark the thickness of the drawer front on the side.
  • Use a drawer slide jig or a scrap board to support the drawer slide level on the frame.
    This is very important. The drawer slide needs to be perfectly level to be able to work smoothly. If not, it will stick.
  • Line up the drawer slide to the thickness mark.
  • Attach the drawer slide using the screws provided with the drawer slide. Attach with at least 3 screws.

For an overlay drawer –

Follow all the steps above except align the front of the side to the front of the frame.

Step 3: Attach slide to drawer

  • Add the other part of the slide back into the slides on the frame.
  • Support the drawer box in place. This can be done using scrap boards.
  • Pull out the drawer slides and align them with the front edge of the drawer box.
  • Attach slides using at least two screws.
  • Once the 2 screws are in place on both sides, pull out the drawer and add a third screw to the back.

That’s it! Add the drawer back into the slides on the frame and done!

How to install the drawer front and hardware

The drawer box is built and installed!

Now for the finishing touches – the drawer front and the hardware.

There can be two situations-

  • You will be using hardware like cabinet knobs or pulls.
  • You will not be using hardware and will be going with cutouts.

Drawer front when using hardware:

Step 1: Make the holes for the hardware on the drawer front.

  • Measure, mark and make the holes for the hardware. I like using the Kreg hardware jig for this. But you could also do this by simply measuring with a tape measure and pencil.

Step 2: Attach the drawer face to the box

  • Apply wood glue on the drawer front and place it on the drawer box (while it is installed in the frame).
  • Add shims to create a ⅛″ clearance all around. I like using these reusable plastic spacers.
  • Add temporary screws through the holes for the hardware into the drawer box. These can be pretty long screws.
  • Once attached, open the drawer and add countersunk screws from the inside of the drawer box.

Step 3: Add hardware

  • Remove the temporary screws from the front.
  • Make the hardware holes all the way through.
  • Attach the hardware.

When not using hardware:

  • Use hot glue and place the drawer front into its place. Hot glue gives you a little time to align the drawer front but cures quickly enough and holds the board in place.
  • Open the drawer and add countersunk screws from the inside. You can also use a clamp at this time to make sure the drawer front is pulled in tight.

That is it!

I promise drawers are not that hard.

It is all about practice.

Once you get a hang of it, you will be building lots and lots of drawers. Because you can never have enough storage. Am I right?!

If this inspires you to build drawers, be sure to share it and tag me on social media or email it to me at [email protected]. I can’t wait to see!

Projects for you to try your drawer-building skills:



  • Lumber as needed to build project
  • Drawer slides as needed by project. I like full extension ball bearing slides.


  • Kreg Jig
  • Corner Clamping Jig
  • Corner assembly square
  • Right angle pocket hole clamp
  • Drawer slide jig
  • Cabinet hardware jig


    1. Decide the dimensions of the drawer box. You have to take into account the size of the drawer slides and decide the width accordingly. Check drawer slide packaging for this information.
    2. If using ¾” stock, subtract 1½” from the width to come up with the size of wood to cute for the width. The depth of the drawer box will depend on the project.
    3. Cut opposite sides the same exact lengths. This is VERY important. Measure 4 times, cut once.
    4. Build the drawer box using wood glue and 1 ¼” pocket hole screws keeping all the sides square. Use a corner assembly square for this or a Corner clamp.
    5. Glue and nail a ¼” plywood base cut to size of the drawer box. This is the drawer box base.
    6. Attach the drawer slides to the drawer box and the cabinet frame. A drawer slide jig is really helpful to install the drawers quickly and level.
    7. Attach the drawer face leaving ⅛” gap on all sides using wood glue and finish nails and clamp it well. See the playing card trick above!


These instructions are based on using ¾” stock.

How to Build Drawers-{A Complete Guide to Drawer Making}

I’m sharing my comprehensive guide with you here on how to build drawers for cabinets and furniture in this post!


I know I’m in the minority here, but I love to build drawers.  It never gets old and I love adding them to the furniture I build whenever I can.  But, I know for many, drawer making seems intimidating and frustrating.

I’m detailing EVERYTHING—from how to calculate your drawer size, to what holes on the slides to put your screws in.  EVERYTHING.  I’m showing you EXACTLY how I do it every single time.  So if you’re ready to start making drawers, let’s get to it.   Be warned, this is a long post, but it’s FULL of info.


As a general note, I will be talking about ball bearing, side mount drawer slides only in this post.  That’s the only kind I use in my projects.  I’ve found all others to be extremely frustrating. PS, if you like the desk and dresser I show in this post, be sure to check those posts out here: DIY Desk and DIY Dresser.

Also, I make all my drawers using ¾” plywood for the box and ¼” plywood for the bottom.  A whole lot of making, installing and building drawers is making sure things are lined up and square.  I like to use plywood to build my drawers because then I don’t have to worry about twisted or warped boards causing me issues with alignment. 

Also, it looks SUPER CLEAN and because plywood doesn’t move nearly as much as solid wood with seasonal changes, it’s less likely to cause any stress pulling or pushing on slides, etc.


The following is the exact process I use to make, measure, and install drawer boxes.  It’s not necessarily right or wrong…it’s just what works for me.  If you’d like a printable version, you can grab one here:

Jump to:

  • Step 1: Determine Drawer Front Heights
  • Step 2: Mount Drawer Slides
  • Step 3: Build Drawer Boxes
  • Step 4: Install the Drawer Box Into Slides
  • Step 5: Attach Drawer Fronts

Step 1: Determine Drawer Front Heights

Types of Drawer Fronts

Before we can figure out drawer front sizes, we need to cover the different scenarios for drawer fronts.   First, you need to determine whether your drawer fronts will be inset or overlay.  (See this post for information on inset vs. overlay) Then, you need to determine whether you have framed or a frameless drawers. 


Here are a few examples:

The top drawer of this desk is inset with a frame (notice it is surrounded on all sides by a frame).  Notice the drawers are inset because they set inside the front of the cabinet. The bottom drawers are inset without a frame (notice that the cabinet DOES have a face frame, but the individual drawers are not individually framed).

Then we have full overlay drawers that are not framed in this instance. Notice the drawers hang OVER the sides of the cabinet and are not individually framed. 

How to Determine Drawer Front Size?

Part of this involves math, but part of it involves personal preference.  I’ll show you two examples to help give you an idea how to calculate sizes.  


Measurements for Inset Framed Drawers

Inset framed drawers are by far the easiest to figure.  Simply measure the opening of the frame and subtract ¼” from both height and width to find your drawer front size.  Basically, the rule of thumb is allowing ⅛” space around all sides between the drawer front and the frame.

Measurements for Frameless Drawers

However, if the drawers are not individually framed you have options.  And options complicate things.


Let’s look at this kitchen cabinet as an example.  I want three drawers, so I need three drawer fronts.  I want the two bottom ones equal size and the top one smaller.  I also want these drawer fronts full overlay (see this post for details on overlay/inset options).


Since these are full overlay, my drawer fronts will cover the entire front of the cabinet EXCEPT ⅛” on all sides (see this post for details).  There should also be ⅛” gap BETWEEN the drawer fronts as well.  


So my cabinet height is 31”, and I subtract the ⅛” top gap, ⅛” bottom gap, and two ⅛” gaps between drawer fronts and I have 30 ½” total in drawer front coverage.  If I want two fronts to be 12” tall, then 30 ½” – 12” – 12” = 6 ½” left for the top drawer front. 

If you are doing inset drawer fronts, the idea is exactly the same except all your drawers would have to fit INSIDE the opening and not cover the sides…like on the bottom of this dresser shown here.

If I wanted those drawers to all be equal, I would take 30 ½” and divide by 3 to get all the fronts need to be 10 ⅙”—so I’d probably round down to 10 ⅛” since that’s the closest number on my tape measure haha.

Step 2: Mount Drawer Slides

Now that I have my drawer front sizes figured out, I can figure out where to mount my slides. I use ball bearing slides for all my furniture and cabinets.  They are easy to use and easy to adjust.  So that’s what I’ll be showing in this post.  FYI you can purchase these from Home Depot, or online from Amazon, Rockler, tons of other retailers.


Ball bearing slides come in many sizes—usually in 2” increments, so, 10”, 12”, 14” and so on usually up to about 24” long.  You can buy these with or without soft close mechanisms.  You can choose whatever size slide you want as long as it’s the same length or shorter than the depth of whatever you are installing it into. 


If your drawer front will be inset into your cabinet, you also have to take into consideration that that will push your slide back the thickness of your drawer front.  So in that case, if I have a cabinet 22” deep and I have a ¾” thick inset drawer front, I can’t use a 22” slide anymore.  I have to go with a 20” or shorter slide.

How and Where Do I Install the Drawer Slides?

I get a lot of questions about jigs to mount the slides.  I don’t use any.  When at all possible, I turn my cabinets or piece of furniture on its side to install my slides instead of doing it while the piece is standing. It’s much easier to measure and install that way without anything moving while driving the screws.

I lay the cabinet over, measure, mark, then use a square to draw a line at that mark square to the front of the cabinet.  Then, I line the slide up with the mark and screw in place.


I always start at the bottom and work my way up.  I mount the first slide all the way at the bottom of the cabinet. OR if it’s got a frame, I mount the slide so that the bottom is flush with the bottom opening of the frame.


Since I already know my drawer front height, I can figure out where to mount the slides pretty easy.  Let’s look again at this cabinet example.  I’ve greyed out the drawer fronts to give you a visual here. 


My bottom drawer front is 12”.  To make things easy and give me plenty of wiggle room, I measure up from the bottom of the cabinet about 1” higher than that drawer front—so 13”.  That’s where I mount the next slide.

Then I do the same for the next slide above it, just add the two fronts below it plus an extra inch—so 12” + 12” +1” = 25”.   As long as you clear the drawer front below it, it’s not critical where you place your slide as long as it’s the same on both sides of the cabinet.


If this was for inset drawers, the same applies, just measure from the INSIDE of the opening vs the OUTSIDE of the cabinet.

Inset vs. Overlay Mounting

If you are using overlay drawer fronts, install your slides flush with the front of your cabinet. 

But, if you are using inset drawer fronts, install them the thickness of your front INSET from the front of your cabinet.  Typically, your front will be ¾” thick, so install it ¾” from the front edge of the cabinet.

Typically, these ball bearing drawer slides have horizontally slotted holes on the piece that mounts to the cabinet and vertically slotted holes that mount to the drawer box. 


This offers you the ability to adjust the drawer box in both directions as needed.  I’ve never used the horizontal slots to adjust, so when I install these into the cabinet, I use the round holes to keep it held in place.

Simply extend the slide, and use ⅝” wood screws to attach the
slides into the cabinet in at least three places.

Do I need spacer blocks?

Everything prior to this assumed frameless cabinets or that the inside of the cabinet was flush. 


But, if a cabinet or piece of furniture has a face frame that covers a portion of the inside of the cabinet like shown below on this storage desk, you’ll need to install a spacer block so that you can mount the drawer slide flush with the opening in the frame so it can slide in and out. 

You’ll mount the spacer blocks at the measurements discussed above, then mount the slides on top of them like shown.

Step 3: Build Drawer Boxes

So now that the slides are in place, now it’s time to actually build drawers. 

Drawer Box Height

Again, just like with the drawer front sizes, there are two main options that you may run into.  You either have a frame around the drawer or you don’t.   In this example with this desk, notice that the bottom cabinet drawers don’t have frames but the top ones do. 

For Framed Drawers: If my drawers have frames, I make sure that the height of my drawer box is at least 1”shorter than the height of my opening to make sure it’s got plenty of room to open and close.


For Unframed Drawers: If my drawers don’t have frames, I make them about 2-3” shorter than my drawer front.  This isn’t a “rule,” it’s just what I’ve found to work well for me.

Drawer Box Length & Widths

In order to figure the lengths to cut all the pieces to make a drawer, you only need two measurements. 


You need the length of your slides (ex. If you’re using 16” slides, the length is 16”…pretty straightforward), and the width of the opening in which you plan to put your drawer.  That gives you the LENGTHS to cut your pieces. 


Frameless Cabinets

So, let’s take this example again.   This is a frameless kitchen cabinet that I’m putting three drawers into.  I’m using 22” drawer slides, and the width of the opening is X (remember X from algebra class??).

My overall drawer box width should be 1” LESS than my opening—this allows room for the drawer slides.

Now, the drawer pieces should be cut as follows.  The sides are ¾” plywood and the bottom is ¼” plywood.  The ¼” plywood goes into dadoes cut into the drawers like shown once it’s assembled with pocket holes.  I’ll show that in detail later.

Face Frame Cabinets

I mentioned adding spacer blocks earlier into cabinets or furniture with face frames. This same thing applies in the case when you have spacer blocks for your slides, you just need to make sure you measure between the spacer blocks instead of the inside of the cabinet.

How to Build Drawers

I assemble my drawers using ¼” plywood in dadoes on the drawer box sides.  If you don’t want to cut dadoes, you can also, just glue and staple ¼” plywood into the bottom of the drawer box, HOWEVER, you need to keep in mind that that will add ¼” to the drawer box height, so you may need to adjust accordingly.


I found the dado method to be clean looking and strong, so I prefer that.  I adjust the height of my table saw blade ¼” and cut this dado ½” from the bottom side of the drawer box pieces. 


You can make multiple passes with a regular saw blade on the table saw to get the ¼” thickness, or use a ¼” dado blade and make one pass or use a router and ¼” straight bit.

I assemble the side pieces using ¾” pocket holes and 1 ¼” wood screws like shown.  You can check out any of my YouTube video tutorials (like this desk or this dresser) where I build something with a drawer to see the process. Once I have three pieces together, I slide the ¼” plywood piece in place and attach the last piece. 

You can use a corner clamp or square to hold pieces square when assembling them.  But, the best way to help ensure the drawer is square is to make sure the ¼” plywood bottom is square before putting it in.   It should be a pretty tight fit and should hold the pieces square if it is square, too.

Step 4:

Install the Drawer Box Into Slides

There are plenty of ways to install the drawer boxes, but this is quick and works well.  I always start at the bottom and install the bottom drawer first.  I place ¼” plywood scraps underneath the drawer box and slightly extend the drawer box and the slides on both sides.

I extend the slide and drawer box so that the front edge of the slide is FLUSH along the front edge of the drawer box and put one ⅝” wood screw on each side in a vertical slotted hole.

Then, keeping the drawer pushed down on the ¼” plywood scraps, I extend the drawer and add another screw on each side into a round hole. 

Then, I remove the drawer from the slide and add another screw onto the back of the slide.  To remove the drawer, extend it fully and there will be two tabs on each slide.  One will push up and one will push down.  Simultaneously push these tabs and pull the drawer straight out.  

Then add a screw into the end either in a round or slotted hole.

Then, slide the drawer back in place and adjust as needed using the screws in the vertically slotted holes.  Usually it won’t need any adjustments, but if it does, that’s why the screw holes are slotted—simply loosen the screw, adjust, then tighten again.

To add the next drawer, I use scrap wood blocks stacked on top of the box below and follow this same procedure.  I stack the spacer blocks until the bottom of the drawer is higher than where the drawer front below it will be–basically the drawer box just has to clear the drawer front below it.

Step 5: Attach

Drawer Fronts

There are a lot of methods for centering and attaching drawer fronts. But, I don’t use any of them (I know…I’m weird).


I’ve found the easiest way to attach drawer fronts is to lay the piece on it’s back, and set the fronts in place letting gravity hold them where you want them so you can get them centered.


However, if that’s not feasible, the next easiest way is to leave the top of the piece off so you can access the inside of the drawers like shown below.

I hold my drawer fronts on, and eyeball the gaps around the edges trying to get them as even as possible–it should be about ⅛″ on all sides.


If I’m painting the piece, I’ll brad nail the drawers in place, then use a couple of 1 ¼″ wood screws to securely attach the fronts from the inside of the drawer box. I can putty over the nail holes and no one will know.

However, if I’m not painting, I avoid the brad nails and find a way to either hold the front in place or clamp it in place while I screw it from the inside. This is why it’s best to leave the top off when possible until after the drawers are finished.

And that’s how to measure for, install, and build drawers. I’ve tried to cram everything I’ve learned from experience in four years into one giant blog post tutorial. Whew…that’s a lot.


I’ll be 100% honest with you, though…this isn’t a science. Your measurements don’t have to be exactly what I showed you. In some of my images, you’ll even notice that I used to place my slides higher than I do now. And that worked fine! This post is meant to be a guide, but not the rule book 🙂


The best way to get comfortable with drawers is to try them!! Literally everything I’ve told you in this post, I learned on my own just by doing it. So I hope it’s been helpful, but now you’ve got to USE it and get comfortable with it. You can do this…I promise!


So if you enjoyed this post and want to save it for later, be sure to pin it!

Until next time, friends, happy building 🙂

How to make a drawer. Practical recommendations – Let’s make furniture ourselves

Hello friends!

Today I want to offer you an overview of an interesting topic. We will talk about drawers, often used in the manufacture of kitchen sets.

This is a very common design element and can be found in almost any piece of furniture.

Its advantage is that it is quite convenient to use.

For example, take the lower kitchen unit.

If it contains hinged doors, then in order to get some object out of it, you need to squat down (or bend over strongly), after which you need to find this object inside the box.

Drawers are another matter! It is enough to open them from any position – and immediately all its contents are in sight.

Of course, the cost of such a box in comparison with the same, but with hinged doors is very different (due to the amount of material used and built-in fittings), but they also differ in ease of use.

The boxes themselves are assembled in a certain way (as shown in the picture). To calculate their sizes, you need to know two things:

  1. Dimensions of the box in which they are to be installed
  2. Clearance on the rails by means of which they are attached to it

The size of the box affects all the parameters of the drawer we are considering: its width, depth and height.

Knowing the total width, we can find out the internal opening. And if so, then knowing the tolerances for the installation of retractable fittings, you can determine the total width of the drawer.

When purchasing accessories, you should, if possible, look at their instructions, or at the manufacturer’s catalogs. But the standard gap on the guides is 13 millimeters.


  1. Calculate the total width of the drawer
  2. Now let’s talk about the depth of the drawer
  3. The height is determined based on the height of all facades designed for this module

Sbox=S-32-26 (mm), where S is the total width boxes, 32mm – the width of the two sides of the box, 26mm – two gaps of 13 mm on the guides.

But when calculating, we need to determine the dimensions of the parts themselves, so we need the size X, and it is equal to:

X=Sbox-32=S-32-26-32=S-90 (mm).

Since for the most part, cabinet furniture is made of chipboard 16 mm thick, for such chipboard you can simply remember the formula:

X=S-90 (mm), where X is the size of the drawer part, S is the total width of the box.

Similarly, for chipboard 18 mm thick, the formula will look like this:

X=S-98 (mm)

Now let’s talk about the depth of the drawer.

The box (under them) is designed based on the dimensions of the same rails (250mm-300mm-350mm-400mm-450mm-500mm-550mm-600mm).

To these dimensions are added the allowances for the “travel” of the element itself (5-10 mm), and, if necessary, for stiffeners (20 mm), if any.

The height is determined based on the height of all facades designed for this module

Parts are fastened to each other with confirmations (up to 150 mm – one confirmation per corner, over 150 mm – two).

The bottom is made of fiberboard, which is stuffed with nails (h=20mm), after which it is reinforced with self-tapping screws (16×4, 16×3.5).

Attaching the bottom is a crucial point in the assembly process. The fact is that, in addition to its direct purpose, it also gives rigidity to the entire structure, and fixes its dimensions. Therefore, having “nailed” the bottom to the box with nails, you need to make sure that its diagonals are the same (this is a very important point).

Sometimes the bottom is designed from chipboard, but then the structure is quite heavy. In this case, to give it the correct geometry, the bottom is made inset (enclosed between its parts).

It is better to make its dimensions 1 mm less than the internal width and depth (so when cutting a sheet, the details are made with a tolerance of + 1 mm).

There are also almost ready-made solutions (to assemble them, it is enough to have one chipboard part – the bottom), for example, samboxes or tandemboxes.

For information: samboxes are “nonsense” from the category of roller guides, and tandemboxes are a high-quality self-closing system, not cheap and quite reliable.

The video below shows an example of assembling a drawer for telescopic slides.

Fibreboard bottom, made from leftovers from previous orders.

In “garage” conditions, all this is done quite simply, as shown in the video.

That’s all, see you soon.

Do-it-yourself drawers: explanatory instructions for masters


  • List of required tools
  • Drawers in the simplest example
  • Selection and calculation of guides
  • Drawer detail
  • Fasteners and fittings
  • Drawer assembly

Oddly enough, in an ordinary closet you can find an illustration for an article on the topic “Who are you really. ” Men who are always mocking women about the mess in their handbags are making a uniform mess on the linen shelves. But women, so unorganized from a male point of view, lay out their clothes strictly according to Feng Shui. Shelves are generally not the most convenient place to store small items, especially any invisible girl’s panties or men’s socks, but standard cabinets do not provide for frills. A real man must overcome difficulties, and not cry over them, so making drawers with your own hands is not a feat. We turn on the reserves of the body and get down to business.

Drawers are very easy to make

List of required tools

  • Drill or a powerful cordless screwdriver with a chuck sharpened to at least 10 mm.
  • Electric jigsaw or an acquaintance in a furniture company. It will take precise sawing, so in this case it is better to look for a friend. Right angles in future details are mandatory, and it is not worth risking material for the sake of self-affirmation.
  • Roulette.
  • Pencil.
  • Straight building angle, preferably with a measuring ruler.
  • Iron.
  • Drills 5 and 8 mm for wood.
  • Screwdriver bits. Among them, there must be a hexagonal one – for confirmations.
  • Dull knife, rag, sandpaper.

Such tools are always useful. If you don’t have the necessary arsenal yet, you can safely buy a good one right away so that you don’t have to throw it away after.

Drawers in the simplest example

To understand how to make a drawer, you must first determine the place of its permanent deployment. Simply put: measure the space that you are going to equip with drawers. Above we talked about the closet, but it means internal drawers hidden by doors, and this is already the second dan on the home furniture maker scale. While we have not yet grown up, we will begin to train on pedestals, it is easier with them.

The whole rework is to remove the door and do not forget to unscrew the mating parts of the hinges. The space for the boxes is defined. For example, we take a kitchen cabinet 400 mm wide, 850 mm high (with countertop) and 500 mm working depth. The working depth is measured along the inner surface of the sidewall, that is, where the box will ride.

Suppose we want to put five identical drawers instead of one door. The facade of a standard kitchen cabinet with dimensions of 715×397 mm – you can check. It is unlikely that we will want to use it, so we calculate the dimensions of the drawer fronts, leaving only the width the same. We divide 715 mm by five, we get 143 mm and subtract the gaps between the boxes.

Total: We need five drawer fronts with dimensions of 140×397 mm each.

Selection and calculation of guides

Selection of guides is a key moment of the project. The most convenient are full rollout guides. Ordinary roller skates are also suitable, but for marking under them you will have to practice on the neighbor’s bedside tables. However, the tolerances for both are the same, so you can experiment. Some overly frugal citizens may choose ordinary pieces of wood as guides, so we immediately say that they are not from our sandbox and the size calculations given here will not suit them.

Full roll-out guides

All guides have a 50 mm pitch. If the inner depth of the cabinet = 500 mm exactly, then the guides must be purchased with a length of 450 mm so that the drawers close normally.

Roller guides

We recommend full rollout guides and we will dance from them. Marking for guides is a simple matter, but it requires a certain care from the master. The countdown is always from above – the first thing to remember. The upper pair (full rollout guides do not differ into left and right, which is also very convenient) is marked at a height equal to half the height of the upper facade, that is, in our case = 70 mm. The following ones are also very easy. The formula is:

Top distance = Top line height + (height of top front(s) + tolerances).

The marking line is the fastener line, that is, it will need to be entered with a self-tapping screw through the fastening hole in the guide.

Here it will look like this:

  • 70 mm + (140 mm + 3 mm) = 213 mm.
  • Next 70 mm + (140 + 140 + 3 + 3) = 356 mm.
  • And so on.

We have painted everything in detail in case you want to make a non-standard drawer with your own hands or if they (the drawers) will be of different heights. The tolerance in all cases is approximately three millimeters.

Drawer detailing

We dance from the fronts above. For drawers, it is not at all necessary to buy a whole sheet of laminated chipboard – if you do not plan to completely abandon the doors in the entire apartment. Small-sized furniture boards are sold in building markets, which can be used as blanks. We order sawing parts in the same place. All calculations are made for laminated chipboard 16 mm thick and edges with an adhesive base 0.5 mm thick.

  • 140×397 – 5 pieces, facades. How to calculate them, we told above.
  • 110×450 – 10 pieces, drawer sides. As you can see, in height we subtract 30 mm from the facade, and the length coincides with the length of the guides.
  • 110×310 – 10 pieces, front and rear wall of the box.

We obtained the width of the last part as follows. If the cabinet is made of chipboard 16 mm thick, then the width of its internal space is 400 – (16 * 2) = 368 mm.

Attention! It may be different – measure by all means.

The front and back walls of the drawers are attached between the sides of the drawer, so immediately minus two times 16 mm. Full rollout guides, like roller ones, take 25 mm (pair). Total: 368 – (16 * 2) – 25 = 311 mm. Let’s throw off another millimeter for free breathing and get 310 mm. Using this formula, you can calculate the dimensions of the parts for any width of the pedestal.

It’s a good idea to attach a bottom to the box, otherwise it will look weird. In this case, we cut out from hardboard (DVP) five times 340×450 mm each. To then screw these bottoms from below with self-tapping screws. By the way, about fasteners.

Fasteners and accessories

We will need the following fasteners:

  • Confirmates 5×70 – 40 pieces.
  • Self-tapping screws 4×16 – half a kilo or so.
  • Self-tapping screws 4×30 – 15 pieces. On them we will attach the facades to the body of the boxes.

We immediately write full roll-out guides 450 mm long and five furniture handles into the fittings.

Assembling the drawers

Before making the drawers, the parts must be treated accordingly, i.e. edge glued. This can be done with an iron heated to about three-quarters of its power and a dry cloth. We apply the edge with beauty up to the desired end of the part and heat it with an iron. After several times, we run along the hot edge with a dry rag to press the edges more tightly and cut off the excess with a blunt knife. Blunt – so as not to damage the laminate. We process the edges with sandpaper and admire.

The assembly diagram of the drawer is shown in the figure. Remember that under the confirmations in the plane we drill holes with a diameter of 8 mm, and at the end of the part – with a diameter of 5 mm. The markings for the guides are again indicated along the fastener line and are simply drawn along half the height of the part.

Drawer Assembly Scheme

Full roll-out rails are divided into two parts: the wide one is attached to the cabinet sidewall, the narrow one – to the drawer sidewall. How to separate them – it’s better to immediately ask the seller of accessories, because everything is simple, but it can not be described in words. There are stoppers, but they are not so easy to find if you do not know.

Mount the rails on the cabinet with a distance of 3 mm from the front edge of the sidewall, on the drawers – flush with the front edge. The delta is made so that the facades fit snugly against the cabinet.

Facades are fastened from the inside with 4×30 self-tapping screws through the holes indicated in the diagram.