How to make a wooden drawer

Depending on the use and the type of furniture it is intended for, a drawer can be made in different ways.

DIY Wooden drawers

A workbench drawer, for example, will be made in a much more rudimentary manner than one intended for a library, which, on the other hand, must be beautiful and well finished.

According to these criteria and according to your skill in working with wood, you can choose from the models that I describe.

In this article we talk about how to make a classic wooden drawer, so we do not go into the installation of sliding guides that make the movement of the drawer much smoother.

These guides can still be installed by choosing to create a drawer with guides, but replacing the wooden guides with the most modern metal guides.


  • For the sides: spruce, oak, maple or panforte wood
  • For the bottom of the drawer: 5 mm plywood
  • For the face: oak, plywood or panforte
  • Glue
  • Flat head nails
  • Lost head nails
  • Screws

The different types of drawers

Simple drawer without hardwood rail

drawer construction

Cut and join with glue and nails the two sides C and D, the front and back faces A and B, then finish with the bottom G, which should be level with the outer perimeter of the assembly ( Sketch 1).

On the bottom G and over each side C and D, nail a small (0,2in) thick sheet of hardwood (H).

Use lost-head nails and don't forget to round off the corners of these sheets a bit by smoothing the edges ( Sketch 2).

wooden drawer without rail

The front part of the drawer (E) will be made of plywood or solid wood 0,4in thick, slightly larger than the front face (A).

The front part of the drawer will be fixed with 4 screws from the inside of the drawer itself ( Sketch 1).

Then drill the two shims E and A to fix the drawer handle.

On the inside of the cabinet, and at the height of the drawer, fix two wooden strips (K) that you will have to edge with a thickness (J) on the outside.

This will limit the lateral "play" of the drawer and prevent it from going sideways ( Sketch 3).

lath positioning

Suspended wooden drawer

The procedure to follow is the same as previously indicated, joining the four sides and the bottom, it is the sliding system of the drawer to be different.

On the sides C and D, grazing on the top chant, nail on each side a thickness (L) for the whole length.

On each side of the cabinet, and at the point corresponding to the length of the drawer, nail in the same way a shim (M), of the same cut as those (L). ( Sketch 4)

suspended wooden drawer

The drawer, once in place, will be suspended and not resting on the guides with the bottom.

Operation will be ensured by the sliding of the two laths, L+M, one on top of the other.

Drawer with rails

After cutting and joining the frame made of the four sides, nail 4 laths (N) inside the sides and at the level of the lower side.

Nail under these laths the bottom (O) cut to the dimensions of the drawer interior ( Sketch 5).

sketch wooden drawer

In the middle of each side (C and D) and along the entire length fix two parallel laths (P) ( Sketch 6), spaced according to lath thickness (R).

hardwood rail for drawer

Nail the laths (P) on the sides of the drawer and the laths (R) on the inside sides of the cabinet.

In order for the drawer to slide properly you must carefully smooth out all the flow channels.

This way of constructing the drawer and the slides allows for a smoother glide since the drawer is perfectly guided.

Slotted Drawer

If you have a more complete set of tools and are quite good at carpentry, you can choose this other solution to build your drawer ( Sketch 7).

slotted wooden drawer

Cut the S and T sides and, on the outer face, make a groove along the entire length using a wood router.

This groove will be the width of the Y lath ( Sketch 8).

detail drawer sliding

Remember to sand perfectly to ensure the lath slides perfectly into the groove.

On these same S and T sides and on the reverse side, make another notch on the inside face.

This notch must be made 5 mm from the bottom of the three pieces S, T and U ( Sketch 9).

drawer groove

Then join sides S and T, front and back U and W, with glue and nails ( Sketch 9, on the right).

On the front (W), slide the bottom (V) into the grooves ( Sketch 10).

detail drawer groove

If necessary you will have to thin it slightly on the edges (see detail 11) to be able to insert it without difficulty.

Finally nail it on the bottom side (W).

details drawer

Finally, fix lath Y at the height established on the inside of the cabinet (Drawing 12) and, to finish, install, as done previously, the front part (X) and the handle.

These are the 4 classic ways to make a wooden drawer that, even today, can be safely used for many furniture items other than kitchen cabinets, for which it is much more convenient to take a more modern approach by installing metal rails that move on ball bearings.

How to facilitate the sliding of drawers

The problem with wooden drawers built using the traditional method is that they can stop sliding smoothly after some time.

Drawers in old wooden furniture often struggle to open and close due to the friction of the wood of the drawer on the wood of the rail.

The most useful thing that can be done in these cases is to lubricate the rails of the drawer and / or the points where the drawer rests, using a candle of white wax rubbing it on the rail itself and, possibly, even in the groove of the drawer where it goes to insert the guide.

This is a very simple solution with immediate effect.

If you don't have a candle, you can also try using marseille soap; the effect is the same, although probably less long-lasting.

Obviously, it is necessary to make sure that there are no external causes that could have generated the problem; an increase in environmental humidity, for example, could easily make the wood of the drawer "swell" to the point of making it difficult to extract.

How to prevent drawers from falling out completely

Modern drawers are equipped with rails that prevent them from accidentally falling out completely, with the result that you end up with the entire contents of the drawer scattered on the floor.

In older furniture, however, it often happens that this useful function is not present and that in a moment of haste or carelessness you find yourself with a drawer on the floor.

In this case, the solution is quite practical and fast to mount a wooden block inside the back of the drawer, in the center, with a screw.

For added security, two blocks can be fitted not in the center but at the ends of the bottom of the drawer.

Initially, the screws should not be tightened completely by attaching the blocks.

First insert the drawer in its seat and then turn the wooden block upwards and tighten the screw so that, at that point, the drawer is no longer able to come out.

DIY Editor
Do-it-yourself enthusiast. I started with the renovation of my flat and then I changhed this passion into my job.