Drawer bottom


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Established Member
4 Mar 2017
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I am about to undertake a drawer construction and have read that cedar is the stuff to use.

When selecting stock for drawer bottoms are there preferred sections of the tree to use, grain considerations for aesthetics for example? Is flat-sawn stock used or is quarter-sawn used for some structural reason and if so is it laminated? Some people write table tops if laminated should be done out of odd numbers of planks, rather than even for aesthetics. It is that sort of consideration that I am interested in prior to purchasing a plank of cedar

For my daughter's desk, I am planning to cover up the drawer bottom in some pig suede. So actually it is not really that important, but I would like to learn how a fine piece would be constructed, thank you.
For the best work, particularly where clothes are being stored in the drawer, Cedar of Lebanon is the preferred timber as it protects the contents from moth attack. I usually make mine from odd bits that I glue together in a special jig; the rebates are then created on the router table. Depending on the thickness of the drawer sides you may or may not decide to use 'slips'; on a side that's about 8mm thick they're not really needed but should be used where the side is say, 6mm thick. The grain should run sideways across the drawer and it should be slot screwed into the back to allow for movement.

If the drawer is being covered in suede, in my view it's a waste of time and effort to make a solid wood drawer bottom; 4 or 6mm birch ply would be fine - Rob
I picked out the best bits of quarter sawn, straight grained cedar for mine.

Even though the wood in question was offcuts of cladding, pulled out of a skip, most of it was quarter sawn and straight grained. :)
It’s worth picking up a board of cedar if you can, after planing it back you smell like a giant hamster!

redwood pine is a good cheap alternative to COL and still smells good, definitely COL for the best quality work though.
Buying Cedar of Lebanon for drawer bottoms is all about finding a timber yard that stocks the 15mm thick C.o.L boards that are processed in vast quantities for shingles. Because it's a massive tree you get massive boards, often a metre wide or more. They're not expensive and if you ask nicely most yards will let you pick out the quarter sawn boards. A couple of those are a lifetime's supply of drawer making stuff for even an enthusiastic hobbyist!
Thanks Custard.

I don't know about enthusiastic, this drawer is driving me nuts! English Woodlands Timber is my nearest yard I will ask them about 15mm stock. They have 20mm Cedar of Lebanon, enough to build a battleship. So I'll be able to find something that fills the hole and smells sweet too even if it is the 20mm cedar planed down.

It is stock for the drawer sides that are causing me a headache. I am reading Alan Peters, Ian Kirby, Bob Wearing and others looking for drawer design, and construction notes. The consensus seems to be that stable timber that planes well, oriented to plane from front to back is most suitable for the sides. Alan Peters writes that a contrasting timber can be good for the eye also. Custard, I found a post by you on drawer construction here on the forum which has been most helpful too.

The front and back of my drawer to be, are of Cherry. My choice of stock's narrowed down to an old shelf from somewhere, which is quarter-sawn oak and some re-claimed mahogany, (old church pews). I decided upon the mahogany as would contrast nicely. It is not going to work... The mahogany is stuff I have used for a long time for odds and sods, and it does move. But I selected some that was definitely quarter sawn, cut it close to the final dimensions and let it settle in my shed in stick. I have just ripped it a little thinner and there is obvious tension, the kerf pinching my saw as I cut. It is lovely stuff but the grain is a bit too swirly. I also have an old table top made from mahogany, I sliced that up using a bandsaw, but it is hard as nails under my hand plane.

So back to the oak?

What do people think about using oak sides on a cherry drawer, if it works well with the tools, it should do the job, but will it look ok?
Starjump":2fv50a0z said:
What do people think about using oak sides on a cherry drawer, if it works well with the tools, it should do the job, but will it look ok?

I think that a Cherry drawer front with Oak drawer sides (and C-of-L bottom) is a winning combination, it's one I use all the time.

Here are some photos of my drawers so you can make up your own mind if it works for you,



Only thing I'd say is that it's traditional to make the drawer back out of the same material that you used for the sides. Plus if your drawers are wider than about 750mm you might want to think about incorporating a muntin, in which case I'd make the munition from Oak as well.

Good luck!


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I have found some thick Cherry which I have ripped into two to make the sides, as other options were not readily available. It is a pleasing timber to work with hand tools and looks good too. I look forward to experimenting with contrasting timbers another time. It is in stick to acclimatise having been ripped from a thicker piece.

I hope to sort out some stock for the bottom tomorrow.

Thanks for listening to me wittering on on this subject :D


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