Modern Media Cabinet Part 6: Drawers and Hardware

intro-shot-media-cabinet-small-copy1 In the previous installment of this project we completed the top and shelf. Here we will build locking rabbet drawers with false fronts, attach drawer glide hardware, and wrap this project up.

Drawer Construction: Locked Rabbets.

I used locking rabbet construction for the drawers because it is a quick, simple way to construct solid drawers. We will mill a rabbet on each end of the front and back panel, and a dado on each end of the side members. Notice that this requires a single setup on the table saw for milling the dados, rabbets and the groove to receive the drawer bottom. I also used false fronts because this simplifies the process of positioning the drawer in the opening, particularly with the inset drawers that this design calls for.

Mill Drawer Parts to Size.

Following the guidelines in the cut list, mill drawer sides from 1/2″ Baltic birch plywood and the bottom from 1/4″ MDF core plywood. I like to use MDF core for drawer bottoms because it is generally a full 1/4″ and fits more snugly in a dado. Mark all components so that you can keep track of approximately where the dados, rabbets and grooves will be positioned.

Set Up Your Table Saw with Dado Blade.

Install a dado blade 1/4″ wide with a height of 1/4″ and a distance to the fence of 1/4″.


Mill Dados on Drawer Sides.

Hold work piece firmly against fence and miter gauge and move slowly through cut to minimize tearout.


Mill Rabbets on Drawer Fronts and Back Panels.

Practice on scrap first to ensure that setup is accurate, creating a snug fitting joint that slides together with hand pressure. Once setup is verified, mill all rabbets. The use of a feather board is required as safety measure to hold the stock against the fence.


Mill Groove on Inside Bottom of All Components.

This will receive the drawer bottom. Pay attention here, as the groove will be milled on the same face as the vertical dado on the drawer sides, but on the opposite side of the rabbets milled on the drawer front and back.


Cut Bottom Drawer Panel to Size.


Drawer Assembly.

Dry fit everything to ensure a good fit, and then glue and clamp each drawer.


Clamp Drawer.

Ensure that assembly is square and flat, and allow glue to cure.


Attach Drawer Glide Runners.

For simple attachment of drawer hardware, I like to attach the runners to the drawer so that they are flush with the bottom and slightly back from the front edge of the drawer so that they will fully engage the receiver. Here I attached them flush with the front and used the horizontal play in the runner to pull them back a hair.


Attach Drawer Glide Receivers.

Set the receiving member on a 1/4″ spacer to raise it up off the bottom slightly. This minimizes friction from any imperfections in the carcase materials. Position the front of the receiver even with back edge of face frame. Attach using screws provided with drawer glides. Check for smooth operation and make any adjustments necessary.


Drill Holes in the Bottom for Drawer Installation.

To access the rear of the drawer while installing the false fronts, I milled 1-1/4″ holes behind each drawer. This allowed me to reach in and push the drawer forward after attaching the drawer front.


Install Drawer Fronts.

Mill boards to fit the drawer opening by measuring the opening and subtracting 1/8″ from each direction. For a nice look, mill the drawer faces from a single board, keeping them in sequence for best grain flow. Install each drawer, and place 1/16″ thick spacers on the bottom and sides of drawer to position the drawer front. Note that the drawer fronts must be the same thickness as the face frame.


Position Drawer Face.

Put several dabs of hot melt glue on the back of a drawer face and press it firmly into position, ensuring that the spacers keep the drawer an even 1/16″ from each side, bottom and top. Reach up through hole in bottom panel and push the drawer back out.


Attach Drawer Face.

Solidly attach the drawer face by pre-drilling holes and using 1″ screws from the inside of the drawer, positioning one screw on each end of the drawer.


Attach Drawer Pulls.

Make a template using 1/4″ plywood or hardboard, positioning drawer pull holes appropriately. They should be centered horizontally, and can be placed slightly above center vertically (or centered if you prefer). Use template to drill holes on each drawer. The template guarantees that every pull will be located the same, and avoids a horrible “oops” moment.


Remove Hardware and Complete the Project Using Your Finish of Choice.

I used a water based poly for high scuff resistance because this piece will be subject to some serious abuse at the hands of my video gaming son.


Attach Top.

Place top upside down on your workbench. Invert the cabinet and place on the top, carefully centering it.Place metal clips into position with three along the front and back. Clips can be used on the sides if you prefer, but are not necessary if your panel has remained flat. Pre-drill holes, and attach clips so that the can move in or out as the wood dictates. Re-attach drawer hardware.



Now load it up with your electronics gear and summon your loved ones to come and worship your handiwork. That’s what I do, anyway…

Photos By Author

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2 Responses to “Modern Media Cabinet Part 6: Drawers and Hardware”

  1. Mooris Mntoninzi

    clear demonstration making tricky job looks easy


    Hi I'm just new to WWGOA and from Ireland. Thanks for saving me a whole lot of time. Tomorrow I am starting to make 16 drawers for my workshop, and was going for a lot of dovetails. '' Change of plan!!! now!!!