I'm making 6 large drawers (514x720x150mm) for the bedroom, with 20mm thick walnut sides (didn't realise quite how expensive that timber would be...! ) and 8mm plywood for the base.

The drawer sides are joined with mitre lock joints done with a router, and the base will fit into 8mm deep dados in the drawer sides.

I'd like to glue the base into the dado grooves, and I realise that plywood is dimensionally stable, what I'm not sure if is whether walnut is sufficiently stable for me to glue the base in snugly without fear of damage from expansion/contraction?

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    The cost issue you mention is why drawers in dressers and cabinets are often made with a different, cheaper wood, having only the face of the drawer made out of the more expensive/prettier lumber. Poplar is a popular choice because it's usually cheap, but mostly you can use whatever you can get your hands on cheaply. The look of it doesn't matter as much because it's hidden >99% of the time. Sep 14, 2017 at 14:09
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    Perhaps 514x720x150mm?:)
    – Ast Pace
    Sep 14, 2017 at 17:03
  • Yep! Have corrected dimensions to 514x720x150mm, as you suggest! Sep 14, 2017 at 17:48
  • Just to clarify something in the accepted Answer, thin or thick isn't really a factor in wood movement, it's width that matters. Drawer component are mostly narrow boards and their expansion/contraction (which is vertical, across the width of the boards as always) isn't much, and in good furniture carefully selected QS stock is used to minimise movement concerns further. This movement doesn't interact with the drawer bottom, it basically just sits there.
    – Graphus
    Sep 15, 2017 at 7:20
  • @Graphus - the reason I mentioned thickness is because when using a solid wood panel, it is the horizontal movement that will tear the drawer apart, if glued. With a plywood panel, the horizontal movement of the panel is negligible, leaving only the horizontal movement of the solid sides... which, because of their thickness in the horizontal dimension of the drawer, is also negligible.
    – aaron
    Sep 18, 2017 at 12:15

1 Answer 1


you should be fine. the drawer sides are thin enough that expansion/contraction of them is not an issue. furthermore, although you are pinning the dimension of the drawer from the inside, the outside is free to expand - but again, it's such a small amount. solid drawer bottoms are not glued in because the bottom panel is wide enough for expansion/contraction to be a major issue.

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