Drawer Joinery Using a Slot Cutter

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterHere’s an easy way to create a rabbetted drawer lock joint, using only a 1/4″ slot cutter. One set up will do all the joinery and allow you to cut the grooves for the drawer bottom. It’s easy and it’s fast. Here we go!

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterThe Bit. This process relies on a 1/4″ slot cutter router bit. They’re pretty common, handy to have around, and not too expensive. See Sources.

The Set Up. First machine your drawer box pieces to size. The joinery process creates some blow out, so it’s best to leave the parts too wide, then cut them to finished width after the joinery is complete.

When using a 1/4″ slot cutter the box parts need to be a perfect 1/2″ thick. You can use this joinery technique with other size slot cutters. Just make sure your parts are exactly twice as thick as the dimension of the cutter. Take your time and make sure the thickness is correct.


Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterSet the height of the cutter so it’s even with the top of the material you’re machining.

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterPosition the fence so the bit penetrates the material by half the thickness, in this case 1/4″. I like to use brass bar stock for this type of set up, see Sources. Make the tip of the cutter even with the bar stock.

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterTest Cuts. Make test cuts in scrap. Machine one piece with its face against the fence.

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterMachine a second piece with the face down on the table. The test pieces need to be the same thickness as your project pieces.

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterIf the horizontal cut leaves a “feather” on the board, your material is too thick.

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterTest the fit. If the fit is too loose, you need to raise the bit. If the fit is too tight you need to lower the bit.

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterYou’ll eliminate a lot of chipping on the drawer sides by making a zero clearance fence. With the cutter running, push the infeed side of the fence into the bit.

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterMachine Drawer Parts. Machine the drawer sides with their inside faces against the fence. Use a push pad to hold the material, and cut both ends of both pieces.

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterMachine the fronts and backs with the inside face down on the router table, again using a push pad to hold the material.After these cuts are complete cut the parts to their final width, which will also eliminate any chipping that occurred on the outfeed side of the cut.

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterCut The Groove. Cut the groove for the drawer bottom in all four pieces. Be sure the inside face of each piece is against the fence.

Drawer Joinery Using a Slot CutterAssemble. Cut a bottom to fit, brush glue into the joint, and assemble. You’ve made a one-set-up drawer on the router table.

Photos By Author

Sources:

1/4″ Slot Cutter
  • #822.364.11
  • CMT
  • (888) CMT-BITS

  • Brass Set Up Gauge Set
  • #144932
  • Woodcraft Supplies
  • (800) 225-1153

  • Discussion
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    6 Responses to “Drawer Joinery Using a Slot Cutter”
    1. cdouglas1942

      This is SO straight forward! Getting exactly 1/2″ Plywood is rather problematic these days however.

      Reply
    2. mjyeo

      To be of practical application this otherwise useful article would address the reality that most people cannot get plywood that is exactly 1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″ etc. thick.

      Reply
    3. john

      there was a video of this on the wwgoa site I had it on my last computer which died does it still exist please

      Reply
    4. Jeff Delgado

      I am about to make a drawer. I have wood that is slighly less than 1/2 and i have wood that is 5/8. I don’t have grue 1/2 wood. Which one of the above should i use to construct the drawer.

      Thanks,

      Jeff

      Reply
      • Customer Service

        You can use either one. If the drawer is small, such as for an end table, I’d go with the thinner stock. If it is large, such as for a dresser, I’d consider going with the thicker stock.

        Reply