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Drawer Box Joinery Tips
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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.

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=2140Another 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."

posted on October 3, 2006 by Rockler
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6 thoughts on “Drawer Box Joinery Tips”

  • Joe

    I've got the jig - the one that's supposed to make this a snap. All it did was make my $35 router bit a $42 router bit. 1 page of instructions and the joints are still way too tight.

  • Rockler Blog Team
    Rockler Blog Team July 21, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Joe - Sorry to hear you're having trouble getting a good fit. You mention "one page of instructions," which makes us think you're not using the Rockler jig. It comes 8 pages of instructions, and they're pretty detailed (http://www.rockler.com/tech/RTD10000332AA.pdf). If you are using the Rockler jig, see page 5 for details on loosening half blind joints, and page 7 for through joints. If you're still having trouble, give our tech support line a call (1-800-260-9663 - 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time, Monday-Friday). They'll be happy to help.

  • Dawn Burgess

    I think Joe was talking about the drawer lock setup jig. One page, not very informative, and the jig is pretty disappointing, too. I was hoping to make the half-blind joint, and the jig is useless for that. Wish the description had been more clear.

  • Rockler Blog Team
    Rockler Blog Team September 23, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Thanks for the comment, Dawn, and the clarification. We'll take a look at the instructions. Please feel free to expand on your experience with the jig. The more information we have on how we can improve our products and instructions the better.

  • bob Phair

    I would like a video on setting up the complete dovetailing jig.
    The instructions are a little hard to understand for an amateur.

  • Rockler Blog Team
    Rockler Blog Team December 1, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Thanks for the comment, Bob. Don't feel alone. There's just something about using a dovetail jig for the first time that can be a little hard to wrap your brain around. After the first couple of encounters, though, most people find the process easy. A video is a great idea. In the meantime, feel free to write back with any specific questions, or give our Tech Support team a call (1-800-260-9663). They'll be happy to help you out.

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