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How to Make Drawer Joints

The tongue-and-groove joint and the rabbet joint are combined to create tight drawer joints. Follow these step-by-step instructions and learn how to use a router table to make drawer joints.

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tongue and groove joint and rabbet joint combine
  • Time

    1 hour

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Cut the Drawer's Front

Set the table saw's blade to a height of 3/4". Set its fence 7/16" from the blade. Place the drawer's front piece in a vertical position. Send the piece through the table saw, cutting across its width.

cut front of drawer

Step 2: Make Second and Third Cuts to the Front

Place a 1/8"-thick piece of Masonite shim between the fence and the drawer's front. Make a second pass through the table saw, again cutting across the width of the drawer front. For the third cut, place the 3/8" plywood on the table next to the blade to elevate the work piece. Clamp it in place. Place the drawer's front in a horizontal position on top of the 3/8" plywood with the slots already cut facing the blade (Image 1). Send the drawer front through the table saw. This cut will create the locking tongue (Image 2).

Step 3: Cut the Drawer's Side

To cut the drawer's side, clamp one piece of 1/4" luan plywood to the fence and the second piece to the 3/8" plywood (Image 1). Make the cut with the short side of the drawer's side against the fence (Image 2). This will create a small dado for the drawer front's locking tongue to slide into.

Step 4: Repeat Steps and Glue the Drawer

Repeat steps 1 and 2 for the drawer's back piece. Repeat step 3 for the other side of the drawer. Put a small amount of wood glue into the slots to fit the sides of the drawer together. Use a rubber mallet to tap the joints into place.

glue the drawer