Posted by Admin Slide Out Shelves LLC on 5/7/2017 to ARTICLES
I was reading a home forum the other day and there was a post from someone with this question: Are dovetail drawers better than others and why should i buy dovetail?
There were responses from homeowners and armchair experts that attested to the longevity and strength of dovetail drawers and that they considered this method of construction the only reliable way to construct a drawer. Then there were responses by cabinet makers stating that other methods were just a good and they would not say that dovetail was any better.
So, who is right on this question and if there is a thought about the quality, where did that come from?
Back before we had mechanical fasteners and modern machining methods the most popular way to make a drawer box was to simply match the front board to the side board glue and nail it together. Then take a another board and nail it to the bottom. This produced a drawer that is referred to as a butt joint as the sides were simply butted up to each other. The problem with this joint is that it has too many weak areas and back then the adhesives were not what they are today so you had drawers that came apart easily. There was a solution and that was to dovetail the box.
Dovetail drawers at one time were a mark of craftsmanship as it took knowledge and time to learn this method of making drawers. Most woodworkers at the time would sketch out the pins and tails that make up the dovetail joint and carefully cut each by hand. This drawer joint has a superb resistance to separation when pulling the drawer out of the cabinet because of the pins and tails.
So why do non dovetail drawers seem to break down so often? Well usually it is not the joint method used in constructing the drawer but rather the material used. Very often we have people coming into our shop with drawer front in one hand and the remainder of the drawer in the other and very often in fact in most cases the drawer is made of fiberboard or is butt jointed with staples. It has really nothing to do with not being dovetailed.
At Slide Out Shelves LLC we produce drawers with rabbet joint construction that are glued and side nailed with a dado grooved into the bottom of the pull out shelf to fit the drawer bottom. The drawers are warrantied for a lifetime and we do not have a service department as we don't need one. In over a decade of making pull out shelves this way we have never had to warranty a single drawer as they hold up to the intended purpose. Occasionally there will be a bad drawer slide but that has nothing to do with the rabbet joint construction.
Being part of a larger cabinet shop we do make drawers with dovetails. The reason: profit
There is and has been a perception of dovetail drawers and every cabinet shop understands that dovetail drawers is a selling point and with every selling point comes additional profit.
When purchasing pull out shelves or drawers don't be overly skeptical of non dovetail drawers as rabbet jointed drawers will hold up to the purpose just fine, unless you really like the look of dovetail drawer and do not mind paying more for the design which you do not see most of the time as the drawer sits inside of the cabinet and when you pull it out most of us don't look at the sidewalls as much as we do whats inside that we are looking for.