1/2-Inch Drawer Bottoms

Cabinetmakers discuss construction details of wide drawers with half-inch bottoms, dovetail boxes and undermount slides. October 2, 2007

I usually make half-blind dovetail drawers with 1/4" bottoms. I have 3 drawers that I need to make that are 42" wide and was thinking of using 1/2" for these. My concern is using the 1/2" and dadoing for the bottoms is going to be wider than the tails, causing a gap. I've read on the forum before about using the 1/2", but I'm not sure if those were in dovetail drawers or not. I am also using undermount Grass slides, so dado needs to be 1/2" up from bottom.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
Go ahead and cut a 1/4" dado like you usually do. Then rabbet the 1/2" down to 1/4" and you won't have to worry about your dovetails. You're using undermount slides, so they will support the drawers on the bottom real well.

From the original questioner:
That sounds good - thank you.

From contributor R:
If you do it that way, don't forget to change the dado position so that you have the right clearance under the drawer for the slide. On the rare occasion that we make a drawer that wide, we usually just add a 1/2" x 6" strip of plywood under the 1/4" bottom in the center of the drawer from front to back.

From contributor J:
We don't dovetail our drawers but we do use 1/2" Baltic birch for drawer bottoms. The selling point that we don't use 1/4" goes over very well. Now that everyone is fighting over what little Baltic birch is available, I'm going to have to use apple ply - $$ yikes! It's getting close to just buying maple dovetailed drawers. Then I'm back to 1/4" bottoms like in the old days, but then again, I won't have to make any drawers and I can sell dovetail construction. Here's one for ya - the salesman at Emerson thought the core material was apple wood - that's a good one!

From contributor T:
I do what contributor B suggested. I use Accuride side-mounted slides and for drawers as wide as you're talking about, I put a third slide on its side in the center of the drawer-bottom to prevent side-to-side wobble. I bust out the retaining tab on the third slide so it's easy to remove the drawer.

From contributor H:
I am the one that posted a drawing of my drawers with 1/2 bottoms. I use pre-finished ply for my drawers, but you can use the same concept with a dovetail box. Don't make any groove. Make 1/2 bottom to fit inside and pocket hole the bottom to the sides and front and back. I use the Tandem undermounts so I leave the front and back 1"shorter so that there is clearance for the slide and I do not have to make a notch.

From contributor E:
I use 3/8" ply or MDF for the bottoms. It's just the right size so that it's beefy enough for heavy loads, and the groove still fits between the dovetails. The only downside is yet another sheet thickness to keep in stock.