CNC Drawerboxes Pocketscrewed


From original questioner:

Have you built d'boxes this way? CNC-cut melamine, 5/8 sides and front/back, captured/cased 1/4 bottom, blind/lock dado joints, CNC-cut pockets for 1" screws.

They are cut and sold KD by a few online sources, and we are wondering how they go together and hold up.

We get jobs cut at a shop and are considering including this in the package, instead of buying out dovetailed boxes.

From contributor ri

Drawers take more abuse than anything else. I've seen kids use them for ladders! I'd never offer those.

From contributor Bi

Buy or make a few and compare them to a dovetail box. I'd like the idea a lot more if you made them from Baltic Birch.

From contributor Ma

I would also be skeptical of two pocket screws in melamine holding a drawer corner together. In the perfect scenario it may be fine for a lifetime but as others have mentioned there are too many across the board situations where it would seem to be a guaranteed fail.

Add a lock rabbet or blind dado in there may help with adhesive but would kill the screw.

From contributor Ad

Make one yourself and drop it on the ground.

From contributor St

Granted I haven't given it much time, but I haven't had much luck with pocket screws in melamine where there pocket didn't have a pilot hole.

From contributor du

If you look closer at the drawing, there are blind mortise & tenon joints at all 4 corners. In combination with the pocket screws, that would probably be a decent drawer box.

From contributor Ch

seems like your golden with the mortise and tenon combined with the screws. Still would like to know a little glue is in the mortise

From contributor ri

duster, I know there are mortise and tenon shown there, but the post also said melamine. I assumed the substrate was particleboard since no substrate was mentioned. There will be little strength left after the mortise is cut and screws are driven next to that in the particleboard.

From contributor MB

I've done them a few times like you've shown with blind tenons but with no pocket screws. Just a couple of 18g nails and putty, mel glue on the tenons and glue in the bottom, and clamp them. No problems ever. I use Blum soft close tandems so not a lot of wrenching on the drawer box.

From contributor Ad

If you biscuited and clamped them together it would be plenty strong. The tenon takes the place of the biscuit and the screws take the place of the clamp.

I've seen hundreds of melamine drawers nailed together with a trim glue. Blum epoxy slides. Big drawers full of pots and pans. They were made 30 years ago.

I really don't think drawers need to be as strong as we think. Pocket screws alone are probably strong enough.

The tool drawers in our workbenches are simply melamine screwed from the outside with #8 screws. They are full of nails, screws, guns, etc.

From contributor Ha

We have been using 5/8 white melamine or 1/2” prefinished ply to make our drawers for 37 years. In case of ply, they are 1/2”sides,3/4” front and backs and 1/2” bottoms. Fronts and backs are cut 1” shorter to allow 1” for 1/2” bottom and 1/2” space for undermounts. Fronts, backs and bottoms are all pocketholed to sides and we build these up to 40” wide and 11” deep and have never had a failure. I regularly stand in my drawers to show clients how much weight they can take. I weigh 186lbs.
The 1/2 bottoms are way stronger than the 1/4” ply that is set in a groove in a dovetail.
I also use up all my prefinished scraps for the sides and fronts and backs and many narrow drawer bottoms as we use 1/2 for all cabinet backs. Harold

From contributor JP

Not pocket screws.

I think confirmats with no mortise and tenon would do better.
I have never made a mdf drawer though.

The ones I have seen, like somebody else had mentioned. Stapled through the sides with no glue. Pretty cheap, but they do hold up for a few years and even longer if it is a low use drawer.

I make my economy drawers out of ply.

From contributor Ha

Here are picks of my drawers. Pocket holed front and back and bottom. You can’t break these if you try.

From contributor La

If the pockets don't have the pilot hole the screws may push some chips through that will prevent tight pull up. 1" screws are pretty short. At any rate it will likely work but I would use melamine glue also. It holds really well. The screws would just serve as a clamp. In our commercial work our drawers are usually 3/4" melamine doweled and a bead of melamine glue is put on the edges. They are clamped in a Doucet drawer clamp for very good pullup and squareness. A bead of hot melt is put on the bottom side while in the clamp. Might not be needed but it forces the slight clearance of the bottom in the groove up tight so it doesn't show on the inside.

From contributor Br

pocket screws seem like a pain to me. the shift alignment when installing the screws unless it is clamped in place. once you go to that trouble why not put in 3, 6mm dowels and be done with it. I think in the end the production process would be faster.

From contributor La

Bruce, Yes, doweling is faster and holds really well BUT, the equipment cost is higher. Just another compromise. In his case alignment shouldn't be a problem because of the stub tenon.

"CNC-cut pockets for 1" screws." Do I understand this correctly, there is no pilot hole for the screws in the fronts/backs? If that is the case the screws are going to spread the board making for a weak connection. If the fit of the stub tenon is good then the glue will ultimately hold fine. I've been impressed with how well melamine glue holds. His stub tenon method should be considerably cheaper than dovetail boxes & he can still up-sell the dovetail boxes. If he is manually clamping the dovetail boxes, that's a time killer. BUT if he is ordering them in fully assembled, then he has high frt. costs.

I've got to plug the Doucet drawer clamp, It works really well for dowel or dovetail boxes. Really well made. Fast. Just like doweling cases, the drawer only needs to be in the clamp until the next one is glued & knocked together. No fooling around checking square, they always are.

From contributor cw

I dont make cabinets but I use 1x pine stock with a white mel bottom for my own cabinets. They will never come apart. My first kitchen I built(my own) was pin nailed import 1/2 birch. it lasted through 2 kids and a dog hanging all over it. And I am a "enthusiastic" cook. LOL!

Seriously, My standard furniture drawer is 3/4 pine with 1/4 bottom, full extension slides. I dont build high end so it works for me. Never a problem. ever.