Kitchen Cabinet Reno
Comments 4

Making New Drawers for my Kitchen Cabinets

I’m jumping ahead a little bit (a lot really) bypassing the process for making new lower kitchen cabinet doors because the construction method is exactly the same as shown in this post. So I’ll spare you the repetitive nature of making seven more cabinets doors. But, I did build them so with the base cabinet doors completed, I am finished with the door part of this kitchen cabinet renovation project!!! Let’s pause to let this sink in a little. Completing all 29 doors was a big moment for this project and took OVER A YEAR. I knew this would take a while, but not more than a year. Now I can turn to building the five drawers still needed in this project.

When contemplating how I would build these drawers, I thought of things like incorporating hand cut dovetail joinery. I’ve never made hand cut dovetail anything and drawers are so perfect to show off this very impressive joinery method. Remember this kitchen cabinet renovation is part of a larger project to get our home ready to sell. I thought it would be a bodacious thing to leave the next owners of our home hand cut dovetail drawers. But I am not skilled at cutting dovetails by hand which means this joinery would be slow and tedious. Most all tedious tasks cause me to look for alternatives. In the end, I decided to use my typical method for drawer joinery which is through dowels. These can look nice when the dowels are a contrasting wood and this is a joinery method has proven to be strong, especially when the drawers themselves roll in and out on slides.

Before I get into photos of drawer construction, I’d like to show you the joinery found in the old drawers…

Crude joinery – small staples.

Our home was built about 1984 which means it is 38 years old. I’m replacing the original drawers. Their joinery is via small staples (and probably glue) and they have not failed after almost four decades of use. This is a reminder that even though many people (me included) wouldn’t dare assemble quality drawers this way, rudimentary joinery like this can be effective. I can only conclude that a nailed or stapled drawer box will work for many, many years as long as the drawer rolls well. And the material is of good quality. I once had to repair some drawers for my brother which used staples shot into veneered chipboard. The chipboard didn’t hold the staples well and the drawer components had pulled apart.

A photographic journey – building five new drawers…

Drawer construction, exploded view.
Parts: the basic parts for each drawer box cut to final size.

Above, the drawer box parts are 3/4″ pine and the sides are 3/8″ ash. I chose ash for the sides because I like hardwood drawer sides when using dowel joinery and I have some extra ash that I’d like to get rid of.

Dowel joinery underway.
Dowels in place; they get trimmed flush and planed flat.
Five drawer boxes completed. The drawer bottoms are 1/4″ MDF. I sprayed them with polyurethane. There is a repair visible in the top drawer – more on that below.
The drawer fronts are wide enough that each is a glue-up of two boards.
Just like the doors, the drawer fronts get a cove detail.
A completed drawer with a coat of primer and knob.
I reuse the old drawer slide hardware. Pretty simple: this wheel rides in a metal channel and there are two small wheels mounted inside the lower corners of the drawer opening.
The base cabinets with new doors and drawers, a coat of primer on them.
Walnut dowels and ash drawer sides – a good color combination.
The stove base cabinets (note the chipped paint on the corner of the cabinet).
The new sink base cabinet false drawer fronts and drawers.

A few notes: I had a big error on one of the slender drawers; I made it too wide. I took the drawer bottom out, then using my table saw, I cut the drawer box in half. I then cut about 3/4″ out of the front and back and using biscuits, glued the box back together. A good repair since the front and back of this slender drawer will be like 95% out of view.

I thought about buying new drawer slides since the original ones were squeaky and old. But I decided to simply re-use the original slides and try to lubricate the rolling parts. All this went well. Saved a lot of time and money.

I mentioned above the chipped paint seen on some of the cabinets. This has been a big problem for long time. Years ago we had our cabinets painted white; they were originally stained a medium brown. The paint would regularly chip away here and there, requiring a fix prior to family gatherings at our home. But I eventually got tired of this and just let them be. If some additional paint chipped away, I stopped trying to repair it. The next step in this renovation will be to sand and prep these cabinets for a fresh coat of paint and rid our cabinets of all the chipped paint areas. A project which will be some work and to be honest, I’m dreading. But the end is in sight. With some final hard work, I’ll be able to turn this total kitchen renovation over to the painters who will remove the popcorn ceiling, paint the cabinets and the rest of the room, counter top installers and flooring mechanics among others. Then we will be able to enjoy our new kitchen for a few months until we sell our home (maybe longer depending on our ability to find a new home).

This entry was posted in: Kitchen Cabinet Reno


During the week, I work in the flooring industry. Weekends, you'll find me in my basement workshop making furniture.


  1. Good looking drawers. I’m building some drawers for my workshop – they won’t look anywhere as good as these.

    Hey – that’s my drill! 🙂 I didn’t know Ryobi made a trim router. I am so going shopping today …

    • I bet your drawers will be great. My Ryobi drill has been a good one. Due to my good luck with their drill, I bought a Ryobi leaf blower and their trim router so I could use the same battery. I remember the trim router costing about $75, so a bargain.

  2. WHerzog says

    Same construction method for drawers as I am using since many years. 🙋‍♂️ And yes, the dowel construction is a real time saver but still very sturdy

  3. Dennis says

    Jeff, i very much like the dowels used in the new drawers. Helping my grandson build a speaker box for a 15″ woofer, we did the same thing(to avoid nails, brads, screws when routing the corners.

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