6 Easy Steps to Make Drawers




Introduction: 6 Easy Steps to Make Drawers

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In this Instructable I'll show you how to make drawers in 6 easy steps.

Be sure to watch the video above which shows the process and a bonus clip on an alternate drawer bottom for larger drawers. And if you like it please subscribe to my YouTube channel!

You can also see a more detailed blog post at:


Step 1: Figure Out Height of Drawers and Cut Material (if Needed)

The first step in making drawers for any cabinet or other project is to figure out the height of the drawer box.

I take the measurement of the opening where your drawer will fit and then subtract 1 to 1-1/2" to get to the closest half inch increment.

In this example my opening was 7-1/8" so I subtracted 1-1/8" to get to a 6" drawer.

I'm using 3/4" plywood so I cut strips of 6" wide material leaving them long for the next steps.

If you're using dimensional lumber from the home store then you would go to the nearest lumber size at least 1" lower than the opening. In my case that would have been a 1x6 at 5-1/2" wide.

Step 2: Pick Drawer Slides and Cut Sides to Size

The depth of your drawers depends on the size drawer slides you are using.

Drawer slides come in 2" increments and you want to use the longest that will fit in your project.

Figure out the size of your drawer slides and cut your drawer sides to this length.

My drawer slides for this drawer are a 16" model which is actually 15-3/4" so I cut the drawers to that size.

Step 3: Measure for and Cut Drawer Fronts and Backs

This is the only tricky part of making drawers. You need to do a little math, but it's easy.

Measure the width of the drawer opening then subtract 1" of the total opening to account for the thickness of the drawer slides. Most drawer slides need 1/2" on each side for install. If yours differs then adjust accordingly.

My drawer opening was 15-7/8" so I needed a 14-7/8" total drawer width.

To get this I set my stop block on my Miter Saw Stand to the full drawer width (14-7/8") then put two scraps of 3/4" ply against the stop. This takes into account the undersized thickness of plywood without having to measure for it.

You can also just measure and cut the fronts to size if you don't have stop blocks.

Step 4: Drill Holes and Assemble Drawer Box

The drawers are assembled using pocket hole joinery.

I drilled 3 pocket holes on the end of each front and back. Then assembled with 1-1/4" pocket screws.

Make sure the front and back are between the sides and not overlapping the edges. Use a clamp to keep everything secure and square while joining.

Step 5: Cut and Install Drawer Bottoms

The drawer bottom is made from 1/4" plywood.

Measure the drawer and cut the plywood to exact size.

Lay down a bead of glue on the bottom edge then nail the plywood down with a brad nailer or using finish nails.

Step 6: Install False Drawer Fronts

To finish off the drawers they will need false drawer fronts.

The size of the false fronts will be determined by the style of your drawers and the reveal you are looking for.

I won't get into the drawer slide install and reveals since they differ so much project to project, but you can see how I did all these things in my DIY Base Cabinet article for the cabinet shown above.

After you've sized your drawer fronts, and installed the drawers onto the slides then install the drawer fronts with 1-1/4" screws from inside the drawer.

Hope this helped you with the basics of making drawers. And if you liked it please subscribe to my YouTube channel!

You can also see a more detailed blog post at:




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    16 Discussions

    For me (and sure for a whole "non-american world") it's hard to read all those clumsy 3" 1/2' etc. Centimeter is the best, handy measure for things of this size. 50cm x 40cm x 10cm box - easy! :)

    For me most strange part is "angled hole" - it's rare thing in my practice and not sure it keeps sides well. "Well" I mean they don't broke even when drawer did fall. Usually I put angle brackets + bolts: they require only small holes for bolts (read "preserve strongness of material") and they hold parts very well. And maybe it sounds unusual, I like when thing is REPAIRABLE (read "can be disassembled w/o explosion"). Say, you wanna change face panel for oak or wanna embed a safe to the back of drawer. Flexible join - easy improvement.

    And bottom of drawer: you put nails into plywood from side, means your nails go directly between layers! Not the best join I know, huh... Nails can easy go out of holes + nails break layers of plywood. One of interesting joins is groove near bottom of sides, where you insert panel - it doesn't require even nails! But in this case you need more precise measure.

    Anyway, drawer is not the hardest thing to make - just attention to sizes.

    2 replies

    You should make a tutorial out of it. ANd dont worry, the only country in America that does not use metric system is USA. Plus, that gig to make the angle holes... I've never seen it. Also I think that using this method is supposed to be faster or easier, but furniture without them could be more 'classsy' perhaps.

    Pocket holes are an extremely strong form of joinery when combined with glue. The holes can also be concealed with plugs if partially visible. This is a go to for face frame construction and even works very well for exterior window and door casings to prevent the seams from opening up with changes in seasons.

    I liked this a lot but my only PROBLEM is that I had to keep pausing the video to go to a convertor to see how many bananas was each number in METRIC. It would be good if you either used metric altogether, mentioned measurements in both systems, or at least added subtitles with metric measurements.

    This is related to a new, but similar drawer project. Could you PLEASE consider doing an instructable on how to use a chest of drawers to make a bathroom vanity? Mine has two drawers on top and two more (longer) drawer underneath. I know I have to cut the supports for the top drawers, but instead of just using a fake front drawer lookalike, I would like to have two actual drawers on the sides on the front. If I get a shallow enough sink, I will be able to leave the middle and bottom drawers alone except to accommodate the pipes which I think I can just work around. Thank you for considering this project! I really liked how you did the drawers in this instructable!

    I don't mean to be nit-picky, but this pandemic of the mispronunciation of the word height has gone to far. Please, the word is height and should be pronounced that way. It is not 'heighth'.

    3 replies

    I DO mean to be nit-picky; if you're going to call someone out for word pronunciation, you should make damn-sure your own grammar is spot-on.

    I was actually trying to be helpful. I didn't really see much in the way of grammar errors in my comment, except for the misspelling of the word 'too' and maybe an oxford comma. I'm sure you will point out my glaring omissions. But then again, I wasn't the one presenting...

    Another great project. And a perfect example of why you should use the metric system. Makes the math easier. IMHO.

    I have used both pocket holes and rotted glued joints with staples. I really like the convenience of the pocket holes and they are quick and strong and can be disassembled if required. By preference I use glued and stapled. I like the dado groove to carry the bottom of the drawer. Nice article, thanks for posting.

    1 reply

    rotted glue sounds great but routed glued would be a lot stronger :)


    Tip 3 months ago

    I would recommend using a narrow crown stapler vs a brad nail on the bottom if you are not able to do a traditional dado. The holding power is far superior and little chance of failure down the road.

    Just love Pocket hole projects -would not have got back into the woodwork after 50 year break except for Pocket Hole and Router tables and great bits and jigs

    hmmm i'm not so sure about this. Looks a little too organized and clean in your shop. Everything went to plan and there was no head scratching. Sigh I feel the pocket hole jig may be inevatable.


    3 months ago

    Nice project. And pocket screws are extremely tight joints as well. However I still like using finger joints and dado the bottom to slide in the drawer bottom. But one isn't any better then the next. JMHO