How To Build Your Own Drawer Fronts

Lead Image
  • 4-20 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 150-500
What You'll Need
3/4 -inch Plywood with furniture finish or hardwood
Table Saw
Router and bits
Drawer pulls

Building great cabinet drawer fronts can be done by any woodworker with basic skills. The drawer front is made and installed separately from the rest of the drawer box and can be replaced without affecting the actual drawer at all.

Better quality drawers have a front piece of the drawer box and the drawer front is installed on top of that piece. Lower quality drawers have the drawer front serve as both the box front and the decorative front.

Step One – Measure the Drawer Front

The drawer front should be ½-inch larger than the drawer opening on all 4 sides. Measure the drawer opening carefully to make sure you have the right size.

The size of the box inside the drawer isn't so important since the main concern is with the opening. Measure between drawers to be sure the spacing will be even and look good.

Step Two – Determine Style of Drawer Front

A slab drawer front is a simple style for which you can use a single, solid piece of wood. You may add a decorative edge with a router, but otherwise the slab front is a single, solid piece.

Another popular style is a frame and panel, wherein you build and join a frame and use the router to create a groove for a ¼-inch plywood panel.

You can also use molding to create the look of a panel or recessed section of wood. You may rely on drawer pulls to dress up an otherwise simple slab drawer front.

Step Three – Cut the Pieces

After measuring carefully, cut the pieces. For a frame and panel drawer front, rip two 'stiles' (vertical pieces) and two 'rails' (horizontal pieces) for each door front you wish to make.

Two-inch frames are a good choice for a noticeable frame that uses little wood. Cut each piece to length, remembering to add ½-inch on each side for the overhang onto the cabinet.

Cut the rails 4 inches shorter than your measurement to allow them to fit inside the stiles.

Cut the panel from the ¼-inch plywood to fit in the center of the drawer front.

Step Four – Make Router Cuts

Use a coping bit on the router. Add a coping sled and use it on the rails to make a cut on the ends to attach the stiles.

Then use a stick bit on the router and make a groove for the panel.

Step Five - Assemble the Drawer Front

Glue and attach one stile and rail and insert the center panel. Then glue and attach the other rail and stile. Clamp and allow them to dry.

Step Six – Finishing

Use a stain or paint to finish the drawer front in the color that you desire.