My kitchen cabinets need an overhaul. The cabinets, doors, and drawer fronts are in decent enough shape that I can clean, sand, and stain or paint. The drawer boxes themselves however are not appealing looking and are made out of melamine. I've researched a bit on how to make drawer boxes and it seems straightforward, but it appears you need a table saw or routing table or some other piece of expensive stationary machinery. I only have circular and reciprocating saws. I'm wondering if it's possible to purchase drawer components made to a specified height which could then be cut to length.

Can mill work shops prepare such components? How can a DIYer with basic power tools find prefabricated components with which to construct drawer boxes?

  • 1
    You don't need power tools to make drawers, they only make the process faster. Furniture predates the use of electricity, so there must be a way to do it without a table saw. A circular saw and a straight edge can be used to make all of your rough cuts, chisels and other hand tools can be used to shape the final product.
    – Tester101
    Feb 8, 2012 at 15:14
  • Thanks Tester. Do you know of a source for detailed instructions on doing it the old fashioned way? A lot of carpentry instructions I've come across throw out terminology for cuts and tools that make it seem like you have to be a carpenter to understand.
    – Ryan
    Feb 8, 2012 at 18:15
  • Here is a good article (pdf) from finewoodworking.com. It doesn't cover the tools and techniques for actually building the drawers, but it will give you a good idea of the options available for making drawers. It also has some good pictures of different types of joints.
    – Tester101
    Feb 8, 2012 at 18:44
  • See also the Woodworking stack, were folks build drawers more often. Prefab/flat pack drawers can also be ordered through woodworking suppliers.
    – keshlam
    Feb 3 at 1:58

1 Answer 1


Interesting question Ryan. Over the years I have bought a lot of doors and drawer fronts, but never a drawer box as a component. I suspect if you have 6 piece drawers, you might be able to get the boxes directly from the cabinet manufacturer. I have never seen just the box components, (sides, backs, bottoms etc) listed anywhere for sale. You could check with local millwork shops, I'm sure they would be happy to build boxes for you.

The boxes can be made in many ways. Cheaper ones are square cut or simple dido with glue and staples made from particle board etc., while high end drawers are made from hardwood boards, dovetail joints and solid wood bottoms. The price can vary wildly.

If you wanted to build your own, it certainly can be done with a few tools. At minimum, you would need a 10 inch table saw with a decent fine tooth blade (60 to 80 tooth), and perhaps a dido blade. You can make decent simple dido'ed corners and cut a slot for the bottom to slide into. A power stapler and good wood glue would be handy also.

As far as table saws are concerned, I own four of them, one of which is my light weight portable 10 inch with folding stand. I paid less than $200 for it and it has held up extremely well on the job and has no problem ripping up to 2" framing lumber. Mine happens to be an Hitachi, but there are other inexpensive ones to chose from.

Building simple drawer boxes would be a great project for you to learn some basic woodworking skills, get to buy a new cool tool, and have the satisfaction of have done them by yourself. With a little practice on some scrap stock, you will confident enough to build those boxes with decent materials and save yourself a ton of money. Good Luck.

  • Thanks again shirlock. I suspect that my cabinets were custom made at least 30 years ago so I don't think I could get boxes from the manufacturer. I'm not averse to building my own (heck, I took woodshop in 8th grade ;) but the notion of doing it without the right tools seems daunting. It seems that I'd have to spend about $300 to get something that will last though that could pay for itself over time.
    – Ryan
    Feb 8, 2012 at 18:12
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    Trust me, the satisfaction level will be worth much more than $300. Go for it!!!! Feb 8, 2012 at 20:37

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