Melamine Drawers

Melamine makes an economical drawer box, but what's the joinery? Pros share methods in this thread from the Cabinetmaking Forum. July 9, 2005

I have noticed several kitchen jobs lately with all melamine drawers. Does anyone out there have knowledge about how they are putting these all melamine drawers together? Are they nailing and gluing? If they are nailing, are they filling the holes? Also, what are they filling the holes with? Any help would be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor K:
When I build melamine drawers, I pocket-screw the front and back to the sides from the front and the back. This way you cannot see the screws because the drawer front covers the screws in the front and you can't see the back of the drawer. I then staple the bottom on making sure that I am keeping the drawer square.

Another way is to dado the bottoms in so that you cannot see the mdf. (I use white vinyl backing for bottoms). I've seen them doweled together as well. I've also seen them where they are mitered so that the joint is wood to wood instead of melamine to melamine. I have also seen them nailed. It can be filled with white fill stick, but no matter what you do you can see them. I would prefer to use 1/2" maple apple ply pre-finished drawer material regardless of what the rest of the cabinets are made with.

From contributor M:
I think Contributor K covered it. Doweling would be my guess. We use 5mm dowels for our drawers, although we use 1/2" Baltic. You can look at the ends to tell if they were a miter fold. If it is covered it was folded. I think several of the drawer box companies sell these melamine boxes w/ dowels.

From contributor L:
I rabbet my sides to accept the front and back of the drawer, this way I can use glue. I also use a nailer to hold them together while the glue is drying. I rabbet out the bottoms and staple in a 1/2" piece of melamine making sure it is square. The holes are noticeable but not by much, and a white wax crayon will make them nearly invisible.

I also put on the tape edging after the drawer is built, overlapping the joints which gives them even more strength. It is kind of a pain though. I don't like using the pocket screw method because you can see them when you take the drawers out.

From contributor S:
We make 3/4" melamine drawers for some of our furniture (the fronts are lacquered MDF) from 15mm (9/16in) melamine using 6mm (1/4in) beech dowels. The bottoms are 8mm (5/16in) double-faced melamine (white/beige) grooved into the sides front and back. The melamine is top-/bottom-edged. The dowels are glued using a specially thinned dowel PVA (a cross-linked type which is not water soluble once it sets).

From contributor H:
I use 5/8 melamine for whole drawers. I pocket-hole the front and back like Contributor K. I also pocket hole the bottom on the sides and insert the bottom into the drawer. I pocket-hole to the sides and shoot 2" 18 gauge nails through front and back, and on larger drawers I pocket hole all around.

I often stand inside these drawers to show the client how strong they are. When I use Blum Tandem tracks, I cut the front and back shallower than the sides to allow for track dimension plus a 5/8 bottom. I pocket-hole to the sides, and shoot 2" brads through the bottom into the front and back. This way I do not have to make any notches for the slides. I never had a drawer fail on me, even 36" deep pot drawers.