What’s the best joinery method for drawer boxes? For that matter, what are the joinery methods for making drawer boxes? Here’s the short answer along with a couple of suggestions:
A drawer is essentially just a box, but it’s a box that has to be especially square (for the drawer slides to work correctly, among other things) and has to be durable enough to stand up to the sometimes discourteous treatment that drawers typically receive. That means that in drawer making, the emphasis is on reliable, accurate joinery. Fortunately, two of the most respected and time-tested methods for joining the parts of a drawer box – dovetail joinery and drawer lock joinery - can be mastered by just about anyone in the space of an afternoon.
Dovetail joints are without a doubt the king of drawer joinery. They’ve proven themselves over the centuries and, for many people, represent the pinnacle of craftsmanship. Contrary to what you may have heard, they’re not all that difficult or time consuming to produce, provided you have a router and a dovetail jig. There are lots of dovetail jigs on the market, representing a broad range in price and quality. We have our favorite: The Rockler Dovetail Jig is exceptionally easy to set up and use, and it makes perfect, square and tight-fitting dovetail joints fast. The jig comes with everything you need to make classic half-blind dovetail drawer joints – and the option for a few upgrades that you won’t find with every jig - for around $140.
Another solution is the drawer lock joint. A drawer lock joint consists of specially shaped interlocking rabbets that allow the drawer front and back to be securely glued to the drawer sides. While this method has a reputation for being slightly less durable than a dovetail joint, it’s been used successfully for a long time and is probably the easiest reliable method. To make a drawer lock joint, you need a router, a router table, and a drawer lock bit (a single bit cuts both of the necessary profiles). If you already have the router and table, then getting set up for drawer lock joinery is especially simple and painless – A Rockler Drawer Lock Router Bit represents only a modest investment and every Rockler Router bit is unconditionally guaranteed. Throw in a Rockler Drawer Lock Bit Set-Up Jig to virtually eliminate any trouble you might have getting the cuts to align, and you’ll be turning out professional quality drawer boxes faster than you can say “baltic birch.”