Over the last couple of weeks, I have been sharing how to build a closet system. Or better yet how to organize a closet. Do you need to organize a closet? Inside the closet system, there are drawers, 6 to be exact. And I am finally sharing how to build the drawers for the closet system.
I ran into a little bit of trouble while installing my drawers but don’t worry I have worked out the kinks on mine and I will share what not to do…
HOW TO BUILD DRAWERS
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THINGS TO NOTE: This tutorial is just for the drawers, the front will be in another tutorial. Make sure the plywood you are using is cabinet grade, see the difference in our post on building a pullout baking sheet drawer.
CUT LIST W/DIAGRAMS
This cut list is for the drawers that will fit in our closet system. And the wood is 5’x5’ but you can adjust the cuts to fit 4’x8’ sheets. Plus you will have extra plywood!
After gathering your supplies, the plywood needs to be cut to the diagrams below.
SIDE NOTE: For your measurement #1, you will take the opening of the space minus the drawer slides (there is 2 for each drawer) then minus 1″ (the width of the drawer sides 1/2″ & 1/2″). This number will be your measurement and please note that it can be different for each drawer so check before cutting!
TIP: Try to cut the same measurements at the same time to save time. I have labeled the cuts in order starting at 1.
SIDE NOTE: The thing that I came across was that my drawers were not wide enough for the cabinet. To fix this for you, you need to measure the drawer opening first before cutting. But if you run into the same problem as me, you can use shims to fix the problem.
If you are wondering what a dado is? It’s a groove in wood. In this case, it will be used to insert the bottom of our drawer inside the other wood pieces. I am using a router with a 1/4” bit to create my dado but you can also use a table saw, see this post for that.
I have designed the bottom of the drawer to insert into the side pieces 3/16”. So adjust the depth of the router to 3/16” (or the table saw).
Then cut a dado into every 1/2” piece of plywood, 1/4″ away from the long edge. SIDE NOTE: Each side that has a dado will be the inside of the drawer, so cut on the sides you want as the inside. Here is how I added my dado.
Your boards will look something like this when you’re done.
ADDING THE POCKETS
After creating the dado, pockets need to be added to the wood to hold the drawer together. I recently purchased the Kreg Jig K5 and this thing is amazing!!!
Each back and front piece for all 6 drawers will need at least 3 pockets added to them (the 22.25″ wood piece is the sides, not the front and back). The pockets need to be added to the back of the drawer, other side as the dado. SIDE NOTE: I was having so much fun with my Kreg Jig that I probably added too many pockets on some of my drawers.
SANDING THE WOOD
Once the wood has a dado plus maybe its pockets, it’s time to sand all the wood. Use#220 grit sandpaper with an orbital sander to make the job easy. Make sure you sand all sides to prevent any slivers from happening.
After wipe the wood clean with a cloth.
It’s finally time to put it all together! Take the 5 pieces for each drawer (2 sides, 2 front/back, and the 1/4″ bottom piece) and place them on a flat surface.
Take one of the side pieces and place it with the dado facing up on the surface. Then insert the bottom piece into the dado. Next add the front and back pieces, using the dado. After add the last side piece. This is to test the fit.
After rotate the box so the front or back is flat on the surface. Remove the top front/back piece and add wood glue to its edges (the ones that hit the side pieces).
Place it back into place and clamp the wood together making sure its flush (I used a right angle clamp but regular clamps will work also).
Then using the pockets, attach the pieces together using the 1” screws. Wipe any glue that seeps out then flip the box and attach the other side the same way.
Do this for all the wood (6 drawer’s total).
A LITTLE MORE SANDING
Once all the drawers are built, take the sander and sand the wood once more. Really sand the edges and corners, make the wood very smooth!
INSTALLING THE DRAWERS
Now take the drawers and using the drawer slides install them to the drawer system, using the supports installed inside the drawer system. Sorry, mine did not work the exact way I wanted so I do not feel like I can share my method. But here is something to note:
- When installing the slide to the drawer use the tabs that the screws can move up or down
- When installing the slide to the system use the tabs that the screws can move forward or back. This will help later.
- Use 3/4″ screws for the cabinet frame (system) and 1/2″ screws for the drawer
- Make sure to leave 1/4″-1/2” gap for the bottom drawer to the trim piece.
TIP: Most drawer slides have instructions on how to install!
Maybe one day I will find a really good way to install drawer slides then I will share that method. Adjust the drawer until it is level (using the screws) and then you’re finished!
And that is how to build drawers for your closet system. Now the closet will look something like this (minus the clothes).
What do you think? Do you need a new closet system? We have found that this has added a lot of space to our small closet. We have about 10 more inches of rod space than lots more shelves and drawers!
Next, up is building our shaker style drawer fronts. And if you happened to miss another part of this project, here’s the list:
- Build a Closet System – Part 1
- Build a Closet System – Part 2
- Build a Closet System – Part 3
- Building the drawers (THIS ONE)
- Making shaker style drawer front
- Total cost for small closet makeover