Drawer Box Doweling

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Pros share tips for dowel construction of drawer boxes. May 10, 2005

What kind of machinery are shops using to dowel their drawer boxes? Presently I'm using a biscuit cutter, which isn't the best. I want to get into doweling but am not sure which machinery. I'd prefer single phase, but I do have a phase converter so can go 3 phase if I have to.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor F:
I have never heard of dowelled drawer boxes. Do you mean dovetailed? I can't keep my finger on the pulse of all new things. As far as dowelling equipment, there are a lot of single phased horizontal boring machines on the market that make dowelling fast. I have one that I use for framework. It has pneumatic bit feed and hold down and makes the work go fast.

From contributor b:
I have made doweled drawer boxes for over fifteen years. Makes a wonderful drawer, albeit a slow production process. About five years ago I switched to Blum Metabox. Now I dunna-wanna make no more stinking doweled drawer boxes, as it is way slow, but it is nice construction. I used a Besellato Uni-boar. Still have the machine only it now drills for Metabox. Ritter made a dedicated dowel machine for drawers.

From contributor R:
Just to be the devil's advocate, I don't understand why anyone would want to make drawer boxes; boring and uneconomical in almost any analysis. Why not outsource the wood ones and use Metabox/Tandembox the rest of the time?

From contributor F:
By that reasoning, why make anything at all? Just buy a kit and be an assembler! Kidding, but seriously, some people take pride in knowing that what they sell was created by their own hand or at least in their own shop. Also, some people are fussy about what goes into their products. I do kitchen cabinets only to fill in when I can't find the type of work I prefer. When I do build them, I machine the stiles between a pair of doors from a single board so they will match, and keep track of the parts until assembly. Also, plank drawer fronts run consecutively from a single board. Try and outsource that.

From contributor M:
I use a Gannomat Optima 21, and use 5mm dowels. I use the same drills that I use for system holes, just different depth settings. I have heard bad things about preglued dowels, so we stick with the regular dowels.

From contributor R:
Contributor F, you are right to a point. If a customer wants a drawer or door that is really custom, then it makes sense to do it yourself. I just made 4 doors at 5' x 10' by 5" thick (a really big set of cabinets!), but I don't think you can make money at it most of the time and certainly not on drawer boxes when you can buy nicely dovetailed and pre-finished ones already drilled and notched for Tandems.

From contributor J:
Check out the new doweling machine from Hoffman. Works just like a biscuit cutter, drills dowels instead. If I had the need I would try one myself. Not cheap, but precision is the secret to dowels and this seems to do it nice and simply.

From contributor D:
I use a Maggi 2332 construction drill (8mm x 30mm dowels) to make kitchen and bath cabinet boxes and drawers, as well as joining panels for various furniture components. It's a strong, clean, and reasonably fast way to butt joint panel products as well as solid wood.

From contributor H:
I use my pocket cutter to assemble sides to front and back and I also pocket bore my 5/8" bottoms, inset into bottom of drawer and attach to sides only. I use a 2" 18 guage nailer to attach to front and back. I can stand inside this drawer and the pocket holes are covered in the front by the drawer face and the back doesn't show.

From the original questioner:
I appreciate the responses from my fellow woodworkers. I will check into the machines mentioned. Also, the Metabox will get checked out. Why didn't I think of the pocket screw assembly? Guess I'll have to experiment in the shop.