The Best Kitchen Drawers

There are only 2 types of drawers I am going to recommend here. They are solid half-inch maple or similar hardwood and half-inch Baltic plywood. MDF or particle board won’t last and can swell with any moisture present.

The second recommendation I am going to make is that they are made with dovetailed joints and solid plywood bottoms. Good quality cabinet materials includes the type of wood that goes into making drawers.

The third thing is the type of drawer slides.

This is Part 13 in the BUDGETHOUSE RENOVATOR series that involves the search for, location of, and unique auction-style purchase of my home in the country. The series includes dealing with a foreign based auction house and escrow to help facilitate this transaction. Also, I show how I worked with a mortgage company programmed to process the “specialized” FHA 203k Program rehabilitation loans. My loan included funds to buy “and” repair my house. Part 12 is about dealing building my new kitchen with My DIY Euro Kitchen, Phase II. My next article in Part 14 is entitled “My DIY Eurokitchen, Phase IV“. It will continue my work on kitchen cabinet building and related steps with some more trials thrown in for laughs.

Always Get Quality Drawer Slides

The type I am going to recommend are quality side-mount, full extension slides like those supplied by Cabinet They are well built, slide all the way out so you can access the back of the drawer, and are cost effective. You can get the self-closing ones, but they cost about 30% more.

The cheap slides are usually the ones found in production style cabinets and will do nothing to enhance the quality of your DIY kitchen. Don’t try to save money using them because they are subject to breakage or poor performance on heavily loaded drawers, especially big ones full of pots and pans.

The full-extension side-mount slides are the ones I chose because they are sturdy and fairly easy to install. Roller bearings allow for a smooth action. They are not self-closing but work extremely well and allow the drawer to fit snugly against the cabinet box. They are also strong enough to hold deep drawers full of pots and pans. Pricing is really inexpensive when ordered online. I paid about $80.00 for a ProPack of 10 pairs of slides.

Step 1 Complete: Drawer Slides Ordered!

Drawer Box Material Considerations

I wanted quality drawers without the high cost of solid wood maple. I also wanted dove-tailed joints for a solid connection at the corners. It is almost impossible to find solid hardwood in 1/2 inch thickness, even from dedicated supply houses.

To get what I wanted, I centered my final decision on a cabinet company that offered to make all the parts as follows:

  • Cut and furnish all the Drawer Sides to my exact specifications out of cost effective 1/2 inch Baltic Birch Plywood.
  • Groove each side to accept 1/4 inch plywood for the Drawer bottoms.
  • Cut and furnish 1/4 inch Birch for bottoms.
  • Fabricated all drawer sides with Dovetailed Joints (as pictured above). This method provides the strongest and most attractive joint possible.

The supplier was named Barker Door Co. in Oregon. I measured all of the insides of my cabinets and subtracted 1″ from the side to side measurement for the final width of each box. This allows room for 2- 1/2″ thick side mount slides. All drawers except 2 were configured with 5″ tall sides and 22″ depths. Two drawers were to be pot and dish towel holders, so they had 11″ tall sides.

Barker has an online site that allows you to enter your exact measurements on their order page. You submit that with a payment. Then they will set up your order on a responsive email reply which you confirm. My cost for 8 knockdown drawers was about $200. The shipping was about $100. This was a really good price considering cost of materials. The product arrived at my house about a week and a half after I placed the order.

Step 2 Complete: Drawer boxes ordered!


The unassembled drawer boxes came in 2 very heavy boxes that were expertly packed. Each piece was marked with a stamp to show which drawer box it was supposed to go with.

The assembly was extremely simple and straightforward. I first put the 2 sides together with the back. Then I slid the 1/4″ plywood into its slot on the bottom. After that, I installed the front. Since I did not want the slop of glue running out of the joints, I finished locking the dovetailed joints together with my pin nailer.

Finally, I bought several cans of Satin Lacquer Spray from Lowe’s. It is very quick drying and you can do several coats in one day. First, I did 2 coats and then sanded the drawers with my orbital sander. Then, just rinsed and repeat for a smooth finish.

Step 3 Complete: Drawer boxes assembled and finished!


The simplest way to mount your drawer slides is by following the following procedure:

  1. Cut installation support strips that go from the bottom of the cabinet box to the underside of where you want the drawer slide. There should be at least a 1″ gap between the top of the drawer box and the inside top of cabinet.
  2. Pull the drawer box mounting part of the slide out of the unit by pushing on the flip down tabs.
  3. Then set the drawer slide on top of the supports (1/8″ back from the front edge of the cabinet) and just screw them in.
  4. Install the box mounted part of the slide flush with the bottom of the box.
  5. Stacked drawers are separated and installed by calculating the space left under top drawer accordingly.

Step 4 Complete: Drawer Boxes Installed!

Wrap Up Of Phase III

At this point you have the cabinet boxes installed as well as the drawer boxes inside them. Next will come the choices you will make for the Doors and Drawer fronts. It’s a lot of work. But the methods presented here are the simplest path for a DIY homeowner to build quality kitchen on a tight budget.

The entire visible part of the project will be the Doors, Cabinet Side Panels, and Drawer Fronts. Options will be discussed. You can have them made (expensive option) or make them yourself (Materials only). It all depends on what your capabilities are or what you can afford. You will have to be the judge. Stay tuned!

I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!


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