Making Drawers, Several Systems

I’ve had a lot of questions lately on making drawers. I’ve used several systems in the
past including dovetails, miter locks, dados, Kreg Jig, and Drawer Lock router bits.

Let’s face it. We’re not making heirloom furniture to be passed on to future generations
or purchased by collectors. We need something that gets the job done with the least

Over the years I’ve used the Quarter/Quarter/Quarter system and it has produced good
results. It requires cutting slots to hold everything together. I use a tongue and groove
router bit to cut the slots, but you can also use a dado blade on the table saw. Different
tool, same end result. Here’s a link to a video that @Matt sent me showing the Q/Q/Q

The way I’ve been making drawers for the last 15 years is with a drawer lock router
bit. The process is very similar to the Q/Q/Q method. Just a different router bit. Some
manufacturers make different router bits depending on the thickness of the wood you’re
going to use, one for 1/2 inch thick wood, and one for 3/4 inch thick wood. Others make
one bit for both thicknesses of wood. They all work the same way.

I use 1/2 inch plywood for all my drawers when building out a van. When making a
drawer with a drawer lock bit you’d still use a tongue and groove bit or make a dado cut
on the table saw to cut the slots for holding the bottom drawer panel in place.

The Q/Q/Q, Drawer Lock, and in fact, all sound drawer making systems require a bit of
fiddling with the setup of the cutters to get everything just right. You have to set the
distance of the blade from the fence, the height of the blade, and if using a dado blade
on a table saw, the width of the slot.

Here’s a video showing all the in’s-n-out’s of using a drawer lock bit.

This is similar to the bit I use:

You need drawers to be square and they need to stay square - forever. The best way
I’ve found to achieve this is to use some sort of interlocking system at the corner joints.
My experience has been that Cross dowels, Kreg Jig, and plain gluing and nailing are
all methods that simply butt the ends of boards together and have not produced good
results for me. If you have a cross dowel jig and/or Kreg jig, then by all means give

them a try. Just because I found them wanting doesn’t mean they won’t serve your

Dovetails are the gold standard but require a high level of skill to make. All the other
interlocking joint systems are trying to achieve the benefits of dovetails without having to
have 20 years of woodworking experience to achieve acceptable results.

Each system has its champions, and to many, drawer making is almost a religion. The
truth is, most modern systems will work fine. The best I can tell you is to research
YouTube and the Internet to see the different systems people use. Then choose one
that you think will be the easiest for you to master in the shortest amount of time, using
the tools you have or are willing to purchase.

Think of the drawer making systems like Windows and Apple computers. People using
a Windows computer are completely frustrated when trying to use an Apple computer,
and Apple folks hate Windows. They both do the same thing, but each does it
differently. To the average person who is not an IT professional, the one that is best
and most intuitive is the one they know how to use.

Same goes for drawer building systems. The one you become good at will be the one
you like best. Leave the religious wars to the woodworking professionals who need to
know several systems to accommodate the demands of their various customers.

Just choose a system that leverages the tools you have or are willing to purchase and
then start building drawers. Your initial attempts will probably be less than museum
worthy, but with practice you’ll become proficient and the drawers you produce will be
more than adequate to their task.