Dovetail Joints for your Cabinet Drawers

dovetail-drawerbox-joint

Have you been told that dovetail joints for your cabinet drawers is a must? We’ve always been told that the most common kitchen cabinet component to fail is the drawer box.  It does kind of make sense that drawers weighted with silverware or plates and used multiple times per day may need an extra strong joint for longevity.

 

dovetail-drawerbox-joint

dovetail-drawerbox-joint

As far as standard wooden cabinetry and carpentry are concerned, the dovetailed joint is certainly stronger than a screwed together butt joint and therefor much less likely to come apart.  But is this overkill?  Especially with the introduction of soft close drawer glides, glue coated spread staples and other engineering advances in cabinet construction.  Is the added expense worth it?  I, like most consumers, prefer the aesthetics of the stronger joints. I like the thought of proven strength.  Although, most likely the actual cutting and joining of the joint is done by a machine, I like the look of craftsmanship and the old world feel.  Below is a picture of a cheap drawer box.

cheap drawer box

cheap drawer box with butt joints

The drawer is made with vinyl wrapped 1/2″ particle board using simple butt joints that were stapled together over 30 years ago!  Even the original felt cushions have long since worn away yet the joint shows no signs of stress and may have worked another 30 years without a hitch.  Here is a picture of a ten year old rta cabinet drawer.  Screwed together with a rabbit joint.

Standard screwed together drawer box
Again, probably never have a problem with its functionality.  So, to sum it all up, a joint is a Joint and as long as it serves its purpose, we shouldn’t give it a second thought. When the cabinet sales people tell you that the expense of dovetailed drawer boxes is well worth it. You gotta ask yourself, do I really need it? Or just want it because somebody said so?
by Granger Davis

Hmmm…its been about 6 months since I wrote this article and I’ve had several people call to tell me that dovetail joints are the only way to go. I guess I’m lucky to never have a drawer fail but apparently the stapled together drawers do have a shorter life span. Multiple comments about drawers falling apart and drawer faces coming loose have made me rethink my position.