I'm refurbishing my room and I have gotten to the point of building my new drawer unit/shelving units. My old ones hold themselves using wood f4 50mm screws, two on each joint. I'm debating if I should do the same or use small single L-bracket on each side, or using both for sturdiness? The drawer unit has the following dimensions: Sides are 72cm high and 55 deep, there is a top portion which connects it which measures 46cm(width of the unit) and 55cm depth and also two small bottom supports which are 8cm x 46cm. There won't be a floor or backing. What would be the best way to secure it, L-brackets or wooden screws? Looking at easy of use and durability. Three drawers will be fitted and It'll be a standalone unit. I'm using laminated particleboard.
Screws or L-brackets to build a drawer unit?
Either method can be used to build simple pieces and, if done well, can yield pieces strong enough for service; long-term durability isn't necessarily guaranteed though, because of the friable nature of particleboard/chipboard.
My old ones hold themselves using wood f4 50mm screws, two on each joint. I'm debating if I should do the same or use small single L-bracket on each side, or using both for sturdiness?
By all means use both if you want to help ensure a sturdy, long-lasting construction.
As both methods rely on screws and since you're using particleboard it's worth mentioning that there are screws made specifically for this material. The common type sold these days tend to be both hard and tough, actually making them ideally suited to a range of applications in furniture making (for both solid wood as well as manmade boards, including MDF). See this image if necessary to see how countersink, clearance and pilot holes1 work together to ensure a screw pulls the workpieces together.
Note: be careful not to overtighten screws when driving them into particleboard, particular the edges. It's very easy to strip out the material, even with good-quality boards that are typically denser than the cheaper stuff.
But the choices on how to put this together go way beyond these two options, with dowels topping my list for ease of use in permanent assembly.
IF using dowels
Unless you're using through-dowelling2 good alignment of each pair of corresponding screw holes is extremely important.
Using dowel centres as you indicate you will be in the Comments is a great way to do this, in their absence ensuring good alignment starts with careful marking out (ideally transferring marks from one piece directly to the next).
The next important step in either case is drilling straight and square, which can be done successfully freehand but there are numerous types of simple jig that can help in drilling square to the surface. Of course to get reliable square drilling and guaranteed spacing many rely on a dowelling jig of some kind. Homemade ones can be built purely from wood, with no metal components, although needless to say you get a longer lifespan from one if you incorporate metal bushings of some kind.
Some further tips:
- Make sure each cut dowel is shorter than the combined depth of the two holes it will go into (to allow space for glue pockets at one or both ends).
- Chamfering the edges of dowels helps a lot in inserting them initially, as well as in bringing the joint together once they are in place in the first component.
- If your dowel holes end up a particularly tight fit to your dowels (which is a good thing if working with most woodworking adhesives) this previous Q&A will prove useful, How can I flute my own dowel or create dowel with similar properties
- If on the other hand your dowel holes end up a little oversize (easily done, even using a bit that perfectly matches your dowel diameter) such that the dowels slip in a little too easily, or worse actually have space to jiggle side to side3, it would be best to glue them in using epoxy.
1 Although pilot holes are frequently not absolutely necessary when fastening into the edges of particleboard.
2 Which although a good method is generally not well suited to working with particleboard, although there are some workarounds.
3 Even if only very slightly.