Making a Drawer Lock Joint

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Drawer lock joints made using a drawer lock router bit are a GREAT way to put drawers together. Once the setup is right the joint can be cut very fast, and the mechanical interlock the joint provides makes it very strong. What’s not to like? Well, in all honesty the getting the setup just right can be fussy.

Making this work

For a drawer lock joint to fit correctly, the height of the bit AND the fence position must both be perfect. If either one is off, you’ll have a lousy fit, which compromises the joint. Bit height is especially critical. It’s definitely very handy to have a router lift in your table for making these fine height adjustments.

How to get it right

There’s a logical sequence of events involved in getting a drawer lock router bit set up correctly. Start by using the techniques we provide for getting it close. The, through a series of test cuts and tweaks, you’ll fine tune the set up until things are perfect. It’s important to make the test cuts in the same thickness material as you’ll be using for the project.

Controlling tear out

When making drawers one of the cuts will be across the face grain. This can lead to a lot of tear out and chipping on the face. Don’t sweat it, we provide you with a great way to avoid that.

Alternative methods

Drawer locks can also be created on the table saw using a dado head. This is another great way to create lock joints. You should also check out our content on different types of joinery.

More info

For more information on Kreg products visit www.kregtool.com or call (800) 447-8638
Kreg PRS5000 router lift
Drawer lock router bit

Discussion
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15 Responses to “Making a Drawer Lock Joint”
  1. curtis2

    Can you tell me the maximum material thickness this 1″ bit will work with? I need to use 3/4″ plywood.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Curtis. I believe that you can use it on any thickness by making the proper adjustments to your router table fence, but Whiteside suggests other bits in their product line for thicker stock. Here is something that I found in the documentation for this bit:
      “Thicker Drawer Front – For 3/4”+ drawer front thickness use bits 3350 or 3352 for even more glue surface area andstronger joints. ”
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply
  2. Glenn

    I think it would be really hard for me to cut into the fence for zero clearance. I paid a lot of money for my Jessem fence. This would mean my fence would be cut for a specific thickness of stock.

    Reply
    • George Vondriska

      You can always take the stock fence off and replace it, temporarily, with an MDF or melamine shop-made face.

      Reply
  3. Jeff

    This was very useful. I always enjoy watching George’s instructional videos, and this one was exceptionally well done. You’re a wonderful teacher, George. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Dennis. The step where you cut into the fence is to create zero clearance around it. You can use a sacrificial fence for this. A backer board can be used behind the piece as you push it through the cut, which will reduce the chance for blow-out on the trailing edge of the cut.
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply
  4. FB

    I would 1st start with a sacrificial fence mounted and then make my adjustments. I would never purposely cut into my Kreg fence! That really surprised me!

    Reply
  5. Michael Kratky

    While your on the subject demonstrate the lock miter bit which is even more fidgety to dial in, accordingly highly recommend using a router lift with a bit height locking feature.

    Reply
  6. Bill

    I’ve tried creating blind dovetails on the 1/2″ baltic birch George used with mixed results. I was using my Leigh RTJ400. They did not recommend using plywood. He used a zero clearance fence to avoid chipping. Is there something equivalent I could do when cutting my dovetails. Dovetails can look so nice when using baltic birch when it works. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Bill. I haven’t used this particular jig, but from Leigh’s info it looks like half blind dovetails on the RTJ400 are cut the same way as on the Porter Cable jig I use; the pin and socket board in the horizontal position, and the tail board vertical. The pin and socket board should, then, be backing up the face of the tail board to help reduce chipping there. You’ll get help against chipping on the inside face of the tail board by doing a scoring cut on the face before cutting the tails.

      The folks at Leigh are very sharp. It would be worth a call to them to see if they have additional suggestions.
      Thanks
      George-WWGOA

      Reply
  7. Ben

    I think it’s important to mention that in changing one thing you affect the other. In other words changing the fence position moves the groove to position the side correctly, but it also changes how it cuts the tongue, so it compounds the adjustment. Also, changing the bit height not only adjusts the tongue thickness, but it changes where the groove lands on the front, effectively shortening or lengthening the entire drawer box. Maybe just a little and maybe well within the adjustment of your drawer slides, but it’s something to consider.

    All that said this is a great video! It’s a tricky joint to get right even with a setup block.

    Reply

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