View Full Version : suggested material for drawer bottoms

03-10-2006, 12:21 PM
I am getting ready to assemble drawer bottoms for a walnut nightstand. I have used Lowe's 1/4 in plywood in another project and didn't like the way it stained so I am giving thoughts to using brown fiber board for the bottom of the drawers. I of course see the furniture lasting forever so I want to use something that will last. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Post will be coming soon.

Steve D
03-10-2006, 12:29 PM

Several types of wood are avaialble as 1/4" ply, including walnut. They do get a bit pricey though. Hardboard (masonite, etc.) works too but isn't really heirloom quality.

03-10-2006, 12:42 PM
What about Luan (or is that what you used in your last project and didn't like)?

A question for the group...would Luan be preferable over hardboard?

03-10-2006, 12:53 PM
To start, I wouldn't stain the inside of any drawer that might hold something. Oil based stains off-gas forever in an enclosed space. I would use shellac or leave natural. Baltic Birch ply is great for drawer bottoms, as is hardboard. You can often find hardboard with a white surface that would look good and be easy to clean. Of course there is solid wood if your drawer is small enough, and you can mill it down to the correct thickness. Or you could veneer regular 1/4" ply with Walnut, if your drawers are all Walnut.

Luan is a cheap Mahogany imitation veneered ply, it would work or for drawer bottoms if that is the look you wanted. Generally drawers are made of secondary hardwood like Poplar, Maple, Adler etc. that are lighter in color, so a Birch or BB ply fits well. My. 02, Dave:-)

J. Fred Muggs
03-10-2006, 01:05 PM
you say you expect the piece to last forever, so why not do what the oldtimers did that has lasted for hundreds of years so far? Use 3/4" hardwood with edges tapered down to 1/4" to fit a 1/4" dado. Like dave said a lighter secondary wood was often used. so, why not go with poplar or something similar?? Just a thought.

Vanilla Gorilla
03-10-2006, 01:14 PM
I say you just do the bottom with 1/2" poplar. I like a light colored wood fordrawers for some reason...maybe just because that's tradition. Or you could do like dave said and veneer whatever you use with walnut...

03-10-2006, 03:10 PM
Lots of good ideas. I've been using the 1/4" birch or oak from Slowes, not the best quality plywood but it seems good enough for drawer bottoms- I haven't had any failures (yet). I lacquer the drawers inside and out and the drawer guides too. It provides some protection for the sliding parts, and seals the wood in the storage area guarding against any potential picks or snags for synthetic clothing, etc. With the lacquered sides & guides, a coat of wax makes the drawers slide like glass. Wifest-nicest put some cedar blocks in one new dresser saying that the cedar was supposed to absorb the smell, seemed to work. I personally enjoy a good shot of lacquer smell when I get my socks.

03-10-2006, 03:54 PM

I think that the lacquer smell in your socks is a guy thing!!:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

The lacquer and slide waxing suggestions are definitely good ones!


03-10-2006, 05:44 PM
You guys aren't making this easy are you? Here I thought you might agree with me and all I would have to do is pull a sheet from the storage building and cut to size. I don't think the next generation will care if I use masonite but I want it to look good. The sides are cherry. With that look in mind I have to have something that will look nice. I used plywood from Slowes for the back panel of the lingerie chest and didn't like the way it stained up. Maybe the plywood from Slowes would work if I put shellac on it and left it unfinished. Discuss the shellac and wax please. Are we talking about paste wax? Also I have never used shellac. Can I get that at Slowes? Well I guess a trip to Lowes is in order. Thanks to all for the help, this newbee appreciates your thoughts.
I am headed to Lowes to look at plywood which will probably be sealed with shellac and waxed. The drawers are too large 22 x 15 to make solid bottoms.

03-10-2006, 07:40 PM
At 'Slowes" you can get Zinnser canned shellac in Blonde and Garnet, it works great as a stand alone coating. Get some denatured alcohol and cut it 50/50 for easier application. If you want to use shellac and then topcoat with something else get the Zinnser Sealcoat, it's dewaxed and won't give you any problems with other finishes. Just brush it on, a couple coats and sand smooth, then a final coat. Also while your there get some Minwax paste wax, it is great for just about everything in the shop.

03-11-2006, 02:43 PM
Dave, I have two questions. Is Johnson's paste wax the same as Minwax? And what do you mean by top coat?

03-11-2006, 07:47 PM
Johnsons and Minwax are both the same type of product and can be used the same way. I have heard of folks finding it hard to find Johnsons.
By top coat I mean a more protective coat like poly or lacquer. Shellac doesn't have much resistance to alcohol and is a fairly thin coating that can't be built much to offer lots of protection.

03-11-2006, 07:56 PM
Dave,why not just use poly and come back with the wax? Why use the shellac if it doesn't give the protection.

03-11-2006, 08:28 PM
Shellac can add color to the wood similar to a stain. It also can be used as a sealer between dis-similar finishes like an oil based stain and water based poly. One of the best reasons to use shellac is it is totally non-toxic and does give off any odors once dried (about 1/2 hour). In your case of the drawer bottoms and sides shellac is best used 'cause it doesn't smell like poly or other oil based finishes would. Waxing would help the action of the drawers if they are on runners.

03-11-2006, 08:55 PM
Thanks Dave, I understand.

Mike Wilkins
03-17-2006, 03:38 PM
Why not use cedar??? Not the 1/4" stuff you can buy in packs for your closet lining. I mean real cedar wood, cut to 1/2" with a 1/4" tongue to fit in the drawer side groove. Saw this in some Mission style furniture in the Restoration Hardware store in the Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh. Stuff looks good, and smells good too.
Good luck and watch those fingers.