Adding Drawers to a Workbench


I want to add drawers to the workbench I built for my Shapeoko CNC router. I’ve never made any so I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can so I don’t make any expensive mistakes. If you’ve never added drawers to a workbench and you might want to someday, then watch the video above.  It’s one of the best ones I’ve found. 

I’m going to use 1/2-inch Baltic plywood for everything — the drawer sides, the drawer bottoms, and the frame. In case you’re wondering, 4×8-foot sheets currently sell for $45 at Home Depot. And ten pair packs of medium-duty self-closing full-extension drawer slides cost from about $60 to $110 on Amazon, depending on the length, for ones that are both popular and highly rated. This project will use eight pairs and I’m probably going to use these.

I’m using Fusion 360 to play with the layout. The drawer slides need 1/2-inch on each side of the drawer boxes. The false fronts are going to extend about 1/2-inch above and below each drawer with a 1/8-inch gap between them. The dimensions show the total height of each drawer, including the 1/2-inch thick bottoms.

One thing I’m still unsure of is how deep (not high) to make the drawers. The opening in the workbench where the drawers will go is 35-inches (wide) x 25 (high) x 30 (deep). There are 22-inch long drawer slides, so I could make the drawers that deep. But should I?

Maybe I shouldn’t turn down extra storage space, but it seems like 18-inches will be deep enough. The drawers of my rolling steel tool cabinets are 16-inches or less.

I know that drawer boxes made with dovetail joints are the strongest. But it looks like you can also build durable drawers with pocket screws and glue. That method is much easier and faster and I’ve got other projects to work on, so that’s how I’m going to make mine. If I make the drawer sides with my CNC router then I may add some slots and tabs which will increase their strength and help with their assembly.

All the parts could be made with my CNC router except for the sides of the frame, which are too big. But, I’m not sure I’m going to use it.

The drawer sides and bottoms will get cut more precisely with the CNC router because I’ll be making them with a circular saw if I don’t. However, the CNC will take much longer to cut the parts out and it will waste more wood. It’ll also take time to CAD and CAM the parts, but I want the practice.

This video above is also excellent and it goes into more detail about how you build drawers, mount them on drawer slides, and add false fronts. The final two videos go into even more detail about joining wood with pocket holes and using the tools. BTW, it looks like I’ll be buying some tools from Kreg and they might cost as much, or more, as all the materials.
If you have any advice for me I’d like to hear it. Please tell me in the comments.


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