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I'm working on cherry drawer fronts for a dresser with inset drawers. The drawer in question is 38" wide and about 8" tall. The drawer itself is 1/2 Baltic Birch.

The board has already been cut to size, including thickness, but I discovered that it had a twist when testing the fit for the final thickness (I should have caught it sooner. Lesson learned in rushing the milling process...).

The thickness is approximately 5/8", and the twist causes one corner to stick out about 1/8".

Since the board is already thicknessed, my question is: would it be ok to clamp it flat to the drawer and use additional screws to hold it flat? I was thinking just two screws per drawer front, but for this one thought maybe four or six would hold it flat and prevent the twist from coming back.

Of course, using a new board could be a last resort option, but all of the drawer fronts are currently from the same board, so color/grain match won't be as perfect as they are now.

I've seen other solutions regarding steam usage (particularly this question), but I wonder if the steam is necessary when a few additional screws may do the job. Or if I should use both steam and extra screws since most steam suggestions also warn against it re-twisting.

This is only my 3rd furniture project, so I'm still at the stage where this problem could be a big deal, or no deal at all, I just don't have the experience to know.

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    Usually you cannot force twisted wood flat but this maybe will work because you will attach to a strong box, and twist is not large for length and width. Drawer body is strong yes? I think you will be lucky. Small distortions after wood is thicknessed not uncommon, do you know techniques to minimize this problem?
    – Volfram K
    Oct 26 at 7:08
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    1/8" for the dimensions of your board isn't huge so I think you might be OK here, but you'll have to check to be sure — clamp it to your drawer and see if it goes out of square. If it does you'll want to attempt remedial action on the board before installation, or *gulp* make a new front. Assuming it works fine you can go for permanent installation; screws only will do the job but consider using glue instead of extra screws. There's some debate on whether you can/should glue lay-on drawer fronts, see this FW forum thread.
    – Graphus
    Oct 26 at 7:43
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    Thanks for the feedback. The glue suggestion did make me start to think about wood movement problems as well, which screws would obviously interfere with too. I was considering drilling slightly oversized holes on any off-centered screws (on the drawer only) to allow it to move up/down, but still pull it flat. Oct 26 at 15:35
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    "I was considering drilling slightly oversized holes on any off-centered screws (on the drawer only) to allow it to move up/down, but still pull it flat." That's some good thinking, kudos. At 8" constrained wood movement shouldn't be enough to be a concern, textbook numbers for an assumed 5% change in humidity and a flat-sawn board give a figure of 0.1", worst case (and it's a mere 0.06" for a 3% RH change, a tad under 1/16"). But if you don't mind the extra screws go for it.
    – Graphus
    Oct 26 at 22:26
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    I have a crazy idea if you find that you can't untwist the front. Build it and then belt sand or plane the corner off. (You could also do it with fancy thickness planer work on a sled.) Push the drawer stop forward 1/8" and your drawer face will look perfectly inset. If someone stared at the interface between the box and the face, they'd see a wedge gap in places, but... what-cha-gonna-do? Oct 28 at 0:57
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Will forcing a twisted drawer front flat cause issues?

Maybe.

This is a try-it-and-see thing. You have to check whether your drawer front has enough strength 1 to distort your plywood drawer. With luck this'll work fine and you can proceed as normal.

If you're unlucky and test-clamping the front to the drawer body does distort it you'll either have to attempt remedial action on the board (i.e. unwarp it, and hope it stays that way), or make a new front, as I don't think you can easily beef up the drawer box enough to make it immune to being forced out of square, although this is possible.


For any future searchers unfamiliar, this relates to what I think are now most commonly called false-front drawers.

False-fronted drawers

The basic idea is you build a drawer box — four sides and a bottom — and then (usually later, after the drawer is installed in the cabinet or carcass) the "false" or decorative front is attached, usually with screws from inside2.


1 Based on the amount of warp and the thickness of the board.

2 This type of construction used to be rare (back in the days of all-dovetail drawer construction) but is now extremely common, especially in factory-made furniture.

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