There are many reasons to learn how to make drawers. Creating something yourself is fun, and the customization options of what you can build are only limited by your imagination and the tools and materials you have on hand. Or maybe you have some drawers in a piece of furniture that is broken and need to be replaced. Maybe you are building a custom piece all your own, or just revamping an existing piece. Whatever your reason, learning how to make drawers is simple and cost-effective.

Drawers – The Ins & Outs

Spoons, forks and knives in cutlery box drawer - how to make drawers

Before we get into how to make drawers, let’s cover some basics.  When it comes to sizing your drawer and then cutting the pieces, there are a few things to take note of. The drawer slides you choose are extremely important in determining how much space your drawer will take up in the available opening. Since most drawer slides need about a 1/2 inch of clearance on each side, you need to make sure you account for this. So you will need a 1/2 inch of space left on every side, including the top and bottom. This makes the measurements very simple to figure out. Simply subtract 1 inch from the height and width of your cabinet opening to know your needed outside drawer dimensions.


  • Width: 1/2 inch is needed on both sides of the drawer to accommodate the slides. 1/2 inch for the left side + 1/2 inch for the right side = 1-inch total clearance for the sides
  • Height: We will stick with a 1/2 inch on both top and bottom. 1/2 inch for the top + 1/2 inch for the bottom = 1-inch total clearance for height.
  • Length: Just to be safe, it isn’t a bad idea to leave a little space behind your drawer. Drawer length will be 1 inch less than the total cabinet depth.

For example, we will say that your cabinet opening is 18 1/2 inches wide, 5 inches tall and 20 inches deep. Your drawer will need to be 17 1/2 inches wide, 4 inches tall and 19 inches deep.

What Do I Need On How To Make Drawers?

man hand opening white drawerr on the kithen - how to make drawers

To build a basic drawer, you won’t need a lot of specialized tools. You will need wooden boards, wood glue, a saw, and a drill. Depending on the items you have, you can get a little fancier if you want. For example, you might want to use some wood putty to fill in the holes over where you have put your screws. However, this is up to you. Also, you may want something like a Kreg Jig on hand, which helps join two pieces of wood together. If this is the case, then you will insert your screws differently and have a slightly different method for filling your holes. These supplies can be picked up from your local hardware store, or online.

Additional Materials

The only additional material you will need are the slides for your drawer. These come in a variety of different materials and sizes, from simple wooden rods to more complex metal components. With each size or style, there is a certain amount of clearance needed for them to move efficiently. Therefore, it is important to buy these before you start to build the drawer. If you build your drawer first, you may realize that you have not left enough space for your slides and the drawer will not function as it is meant to. Most traditional side mounted slides require a 1/2 inch of clearance on each side, but be sure to measure your slide thickness before starting.

As with any DIY project, there is lots of room for personalization. You may want to add a nice drawer face, or apply some paint or varnish after sanding the drawer. We have also seen people who line their drawers with wallpaper or contact paper. The sky is the limit for how you want this project to look, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

The Build – Instructions, Tips, & More

Man holding a screwdriver and installing drawer slides on an element of a chest of drawers- how to make drawers

Learning how to make drawers is one of the simplest tasks for anyone who even remotely dabbles in woodworking or DIY projects, and is a perfect beginner project.

Select The Materials

The first step in any woodworking project is to select the materials you will work with. And have a rough measurement of the amount needed. Acquire the amount and type of wood you will use, as well as the slides you will need. A common and fairly inexpensive type of lumber for drawers is 1/2 inch cabinet grade plywood for every part of your project, including the bottom. However, with the overlay or drawer facepiece, many people choose something that looks a little nicer or matches the wood of the piece of furniture they will put the drawer in. If you’re adding paint or varnish to the drawer, this may not be important. Again, this is completely up to you and how you want your finished product to look.

Size Your Drawer Properly

The next step is to size your drawer properly. As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to keep your drawer slides in mind. Measure your drawer opening and then subtract the amount needed from each side accordingly. This will give you the needed dimensions of your drawer pieces.

Now it’s time to cut your drawer parts. The drawer sides need to be the total length of your drawer. The front and back pieces will be 1 inch less than the total drawer width. All pieces will be the same height. For the bottom piece, cut it to fit the exact size of the inside of the drawer. You don’t want the drawer sides sitting on top of the bottom piece.


Once you have all of your pieces cut, it’s time for assembly. But first, you should do a “dry fit” to make sure the pieces align properly. Once the dry fit ensures that each piece fits together. You will need to place each side together using wood glue and screws. 1 1/2 inch wood screws would be a good option for most materials. Apply a thin line of glue to the edge of one side piece. Then place it against the proper perpendicular piece and then screw it into place. Continue until all sides of the drawer are intact and joined together. Measure for squareness as you do this to ensure that the drawer does not become crooked.

Here’s A Video About The Closet Drawer Assembly/Installation

Secure The Drawer Bottom

After the sides are connected to each other, you can secure the drawer bottom. Use wood glue again for this on all four edges of the bottom piece. Slide the bottom up into the drawer. So that it is flush and even with the bottom of all the sides. Then secure this bottom with three or four screws on each side.

Next comes the slides. These are usually easy to install. Instructions are included with their purchase. Simply mount them to the drawer sides per the directions. Then you can place the drawer into your opening to make sure that it fits well and slides efficiently.

Drawer Front

While you have the drawer in its intended opening, it’s a good time for you to measure and fit it for an overlay or drawer face. Drawer faces are slightly larger all around than the drawer itself and should cover the drawer opening. Once you have your drawer face cut to the size you prefer. It’s time to attach it to the drawer. This is most easily done by applying wood glue to the entire surface of the front of your drawer and then pressing the face to it. Secure the drawer face with two screws that are short enough to not protrude completely to the other side. These screws will need to be inserted from the inside of the drawer in order to not be seen from the outside.

Finishing Touches

Next is the start of your finishing touches. You can now fill in your screw holes. This may not matter to you, depending on what the drawer will be used for or where it is. If you’re going to fill them in don’t worry about the back ones, no one will ever see them. If you used a drawer front or overlay. You wouldn’t need to worry about the front ones either.

Personal touches come next and last when learning how to make drawers. If you used wood putty to fill your screw holes, make sure this is dry before you apply any paint or varnish. Once it is, have at it. You can add whatever your heart desires. You may want to think about a drawer knob or handle as well.

How to Make Drawers – The Conclusion

Organized Kitchen Drawer - how to make drawers

Learning how to make drawers is simple, and putting that knowledge into practice is a very fun and rewarding experience. This project can turn that old piece of furniture in the back room into something you want to display in the front room. A few simple drawers can add special character to any room or simple desk.

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