How to Build a Basic Drawer – No Fancy Tools

Need to build a drawer, but want to avoid fancy tools and joinery? Build a simple drawer with just a saw, drill, and kreg pocket hole jig.

How to Build a Drawer

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Tools & Materials:

Lumber:

  • 3/4″ Plywood
  • 1  |   1 x 4 @ 6′
  • 1  |   Drawer Face

Cuts:

  • 2  |   1 x 4 @ 15″ (sides)
  • 1  |   1 x 4 @ 10″ (front & back)
  • 1  |   Plywood @ 10″ x 15″ (bottom)

I used scrap pieces of lumber for this drawer, so the lumber and cut lists are just for reference. Adjust as necessary for any size drawer you need. I’ve used plywood or 1x6s for the drawer sides as well, depending on the project. The process is the same no matter how big the drawer is.

Step 1. Cuts

Cut boards to length according to your project and sand until smooth.

How to Build a Drawer step2

Step 2. Pocket Holes

Drill pocket holes in the drawer bottom and the front and back pieces.

I used a Kreg K5, but the Kreg R3 works just as well.

How to Build a Drawer step1

If you don’t own a pocket hole jig (or don’t want to invest in one), you can countersink screws in the sides through the front, back, and bottom of the drawer. Fill the holes with wood filler afterwards, and you’re good to go. Make sure to pre-drill holes through the sides to prevent the wood from splitting.

Step 3. Front & Back

Position the front of the drawer flush with the bottom and sides of the bottom. Attach with wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws (or countersink screws through the front piece into the drawer bottom).

How to Build a Drawer step3

Repeat for the back of the drawer.

How to Build a Drawer step4
Drawer – top side view

With the front and back attached, the drawer should look like this:

How to Build a Drawer step5
Drawer – bottom side view

Step 4. Sides

Position the sides of the drawer, clamp in place, and attach with 1 ¼” pocket hole screws and wood glue (or countersunk screws).

Start by attaching the sides to the front and back:

How to Build a Drawer step6
Drawer – top view

Then flip the drawer over and attach the drawer bottom to the sides:

How to Build a Drawer step6
Drawer – bottom view

Let the wood glue dry and you have yourself a sturdy drawer.

How to Build a Drawer step7

Step 5. Drawer Face

Once you finish the drawer box, cut and fit the drawer face for whatever you’re building and attach it to the front of the drawer.

The drawer face hides the pocket holes on the front board, and the pocket holes on the back board face the back of the project – no pocket holes to be seen!

How to Build a Drawer
Drawer – isometric view

There are a million ways to build a drawer. This is just one method I like to use – it’s quick, strong, and gets the job done.

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Thanks for stopping by!

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How to Build a Drawer

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Comments

  1. Roy M. says

    I can build much better drawers with just a table saw (Standard carbibe blade even), and glue. Though I routinely use a stacked Dado set myself, and dovetail jig. This article claims “No fancy tools,” but the kreg jig is getting a bit fancy and some guys don’t even own a miter saw, much less one accurate enough to build a suitably square drawer. Perhaps we need a definition of what the author of the article considers “Fancy.” Considering the strength dados and dovetails offer, I would hardly consider them “Fancy.” More like “mandatory.”

    • tylynn_sattler says

      Thank you for the input, Roy. I wrote the tutorial for people who do not have a table saw or access to training for dados and/or dovetails. The Kreg pocket hole jig is an inexpensive alternative that many hobby/weekend-warrior woodworkers don’t mind purchasing (or already have on hand). I have also made drawers with dados and dovetails and, thought they do offer good strength, the pocket hole alternative is plenty strong and a good starting point for someone who isn’t quite ready to take on dados and dovetails. I haven’t had any trouble with any of the drawers I’ve made using the pocket hole method.

  2. Juliana says

    Love this drawer tutorial. I never thought of making pocket holes. Thanks. I would have just screwed the boards together, but this looks so much neeter. I think I want to make more drawer units for my kitchen this way. It will make a very nice island with my butcher block top I have salvaged. You are right. For a beginner like me, this makes drawer making very doable for me.

  3. Mark Bauer says

    This is a great drawer design that is quick and easy. It is perfect for rough use in a workshop. I’m constantly building drawers for under-the-table and under-the-shelf for storage. I was spending way too much time with box-joint corners – this design is obviously faster without that much difference in usability.

      • Cathy Cooper says

        Hi there
        Love this…Was wondering if you could put the Kreg holes on the inside of the front — then you wouldn’t have to worry about covering the pocket holes on the outside..???

        • tylynn_sattler says

          Hi Cathy, yes you can put the holes on the inside of the front of the drawer. However, depending on the size of the drawer, you may not be able to fit a drill in there to put the screws in. For bigger drawers, that’ll work fine. For smaller drawers, you’ll have trouble. Also, I haven’t seen many drawers without drawer faces. If you make a drawer with no face (maybe for a workshop or something), then putting the pocket holes on the inside would work.

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