One of the reasons it took me so long to finish up our coffee station was the drawers. I had never done them before and everyone was telling me how hard they were.
I almost left drawers out of the design because I was afraid to build them. But I really wanted the storage drawers provide.
So I designed my console with 2 nice sized drawers on top. I just knew I could figure out how to make and install drawers that actually worked!
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I built my console table in June, finished it in July, and then stressed about the drawers through all of August. I knew I needed to bite the bullet, but I am really good at distracting myself with shiny new projects.
I knew it was going to get cold on me so I toughened up and started building the drawers. Guess what? It wasn’t hard to build nice square drawers!
These instructions use measurements for the exact size drawer needed for my coffee bar table. However, you can use the tips and steps below to make any drawer! Just adjust your measurements to fit your opening.
- Wood products-
- 1×4 boards for the drawer sides
- 1/4″ plywood for the bottom of the drawer
- 1×6 boards for the drawer fronts
- 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws
- 1 1/4″ finishing nails
- wood glue
- 12-Inch Full Extension Drawer Slides
The most important thing you need to know when building drawers is ‘square’. If your drawers are square and your openings for the drawers are square, the drawer glides will install easily and your drawers will work!
So how do you make sure everything is square. Take the extra few seconds on each and every cut, an 1/8 of an inch can make a big difference.
When I cut my drawers, I cut two boards at once so the boards on the sides were the exact same size. This helps with them being square.
The next thing I did was check my miter saw blade to make sure it was cutting at a perfect 90 degree angle. Since my miter saw blade can cut at an angle, I need to make sure to check my blade when I want to cut straight lines to make sure the blade is back at 90 degrees.
Now that I had my 4 beautiful 1×4 boards for the sides of my drawers, I need to secure them together and keep everything square.
The classic way to make drawers is with a dovetail joint. It gives you a strong joint that will hold up, but they require special tools.
I used my trusty Kreg Jig. Seriously, this is one of my favorite tools and I use it all the time. It makes projects so easy and gives you strong joints too.
I added 2 pocket holes to each side of the 18 1/2″ boards.
To ensure a perfectly square corner, I used a Right Angle Clamp designed to be used with the Kreg pocket holes.
Clamps are not cheap, but they are a lifesaver when building. Without them, it is a lot harder to build things that are square and straight.
I put the pocket holes on the outside of the drawer (they will be hidden by the drawer front or on the very back of the drawer inside the furniture piece.
Then I double checked my square with a 7-inch Speed Square. Nice and square!
Now I had two beautifully built drawers. Time to add a bottom.
I cut the 1/4″ plywood 11 3/4″ x 20″ so it was 1/4″ smaller all around. Then I secured it to the bottom of the drawer with wood glue and some finishing nails.
I will not be using these drawers to hold heavy items so I am happy with the bottoms.
Then I added a couple coats of polyurethane all over the drawer to seal the wood. You never know when you will end up with water in a drawer in the kitchen!
Now I had these drawers that were carefully built and square. It was was time to deal with drawer glides. YIKES!
There are a lot of different types of drawer glides you can choose from. Believe me, I got lost in the pages of search results. But I finally settled on these 12-Inch Full Extension Drawer Slides.
Why? Because I have been dealing with a 30 year old builder grade kitchen and I knew I didn’t want cheap drawer glides that left the back half of my drawers inaccessible.
But when I received the drawer glides, there were absolutely no instructions with them. Not a paper with pictures, website, nothing!
Luckily, the answered questions on Amazon let me know I needed 1/2″ clearance on each side for the drawer glides (I found that out before building the drawers).
So if you are building your own drawers, make sure you build the drawer exactly 1″ smaller than your drawer opening.
Next thing I needed to know was how to take them apart. There is a little black lever that you can see when you open the drawer glides up. Squeeze it to pull the glide apart.
Next you will need to install the drawer glide on the drawer and on the console. For the console I learned that I needed something to attach the glides to on the inside.
I did not initially build it into my console, but I noted it on the plans I shared. I added a 2×2 on between the center legs on the console roughly centered in the drawer opening.
Then on the outside of the console I made the panel flush to the outside and that left me with a gap and nothing to secure the drawer glides too.
I had to put a 1×2 board inside it, but you can avoid this by making the side panel flush with the inside of the side legs.
Luckily these little braces are totally hidden, I am the only one who knew I messed up (well now you all do too).
Measure and mark carefully a straight line centered on the drawer openings and on the drawers. Then with the drawer glides taken apart, attach the inside piece to the drawers with the screw holes lined up on the line and the front of the glide flush with the front of the drawer.
You will see clusters of screws on the front, center and back of the glides.
- The first one is elongated horizontal,
- the second is vertical,
- the third is just big enough for the screw.
The reason for these is you can simply adjust a little bit up/down or side/side until your drawers slide perfectly.
I secured the front of the drawer glide with the horizontal hole and the back with the vertical one so I would be able to adjust it easily.
For the glides attached to the console, secure it at the front and back with screws on your line.
The front of the drawer glide needs to be 3/4″ inside the console so when the drawer front is attached it will sit flush with the console.
Now you can carefully slide the drawer into the console, lining up the glides so they slide back together.
The first couple times you slide them they may be stiff. But they should slide. If not, double check that things are level, and adjust your drawer glide. Then try sliding it again.
When you are happy with it, secure the drawer glide to the drawer with a couple more screws in the smaller holes.
Now it’s time to add the drawer front. I used lots of wood glue but made sure to keep it only in the center of the drawer front.
Then I placed the drawer front on the drawer. The size of the drawer front allows 1/8″ clearance around the whole thing.
I used my quilting rulers to keep it lined up. Then I quickly secured it with 2 finishing nails.
After letting it dry, I filled the nail holes and added some touch up paint.
Then I added these knobs I found at World Market and it was finally all done!
Sadly this was my longest build, but I am not going to let drawers scare me anymore.
I have already drawn up plans for a new bedroom dresser for our master bedroom (we are using a too small, too outdated, hand-me-down) and I will need to build a vanity for the master bedroom if I ever get the drywall done.
I have also toyed with the idea of building my own kitchen cabinets. Maybe… maybe not. We will have to see.
What do you think, are you ready to take on drawers?
Monday 30th of July 2018
Very rarely do I find my phone's Google eavesdropping tendencies to be helpful... But this time it was spot on! My husband and I just moved into a new apartment with an odd kitchen cabinet configuration and one sad, lonely wall by the front door (which opens into the kitchen). Day two in house and I'm like, "Honey, can we get a console table for this entry wall? Maybe do a little coffee bar?" However, the builder in me cringed at the price tag on ones we both liked (I know I can build one for less!). Which brought me to... drawers... Lovely, functional, terrifyingly intimidating drawers... A furniture addition I have never yet built... (The storage bed and dresser/changing table I built last year are still sadly lacking their intended drawers - though currently sporting cute little totes) Enter Google's spot on eavesdropping search engine... Literally the day after chatting this whole thing out with my hubby, your article appears in my suggested news feed. As I read through it with increasing joy, I have now become more and more certain that I too can tackle drawers! ;) (I quite literally stopped reading, found my husband, and started from the beginning again - out loud - punctuated by several outbursts of, "Exactly! Preach it sister! Hallelujah!") I cannot tell how fun and refreshing it was to read through your article and, not only, find encouragement for precisely the project I'm planning to tackle next, but to also hear the voice of another kindred-hearted sister builder! So, thank you! :) ~Tiffany
Saturday 4th of August 2018
I am so glad I could help you overcome your fear of drawers thanks to Google (and their eavesdropping ;))! I too was afraid of drawers and now I love adding them to builds. Just finished building our entire kitchen and I put lots and lots of drawers in it! Have fun building and please share pictures of your finished project!
Tuesday 9th of February 2016
I am so impressed with your table and drawer, Kati! I've never built any furniture, but wish I were your neighbor so you could build something for me :). Thanks for sharing at the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link party at Organized 31.
Thursday 11th of February 2016
Thanks Susan! Building furniture is definitely scary at first, but now I'm addicted :) Being neighbors would be fun, I could build and you could keep me organized!
Sunday 7th of February 2016
Wow. You are super talented. I love the finished look. Thanks so much for sharing your project with us at Merry Monday.
Monday 8th of February 2016
You are so kind Sherry!
Wendi @ H2OBungalow
Saturday 30th of January 2016
Bravo to you on an outstanding job! Your coffee console looks great and your drawers are perfect! I know how it feels to be intimidated by a woodworking step. Each time you conquer a new step it builds confidence. Keep up the good work:) Pinning!
Saturday 30th of January 2016
Thanks so much Wendi! I agree each time you try and succeed with something build confidence. I'm ready to take on the world :)
Friday 29th of January 2016
Thanks for all the helpful information. Sometimes making drawers and installing them are not as easy as it seems.
Saturday 30th of January 2016
Thanks Crystal! I hope what I learned can help make it easier for everyone else :)