the Router Workshop

Router Tips

The Drawer Lock Joint!

Anytime you have a chance to make drawers one of the most important considerations in the construction process is the way the drawer front is mounted. For this tip we are using an overlap drawer. This means the front is connected directly to the sides and has a 3/8 overlap all around the outside edge. This drawer type can have a wide variety of joinery to connect the front to the sides,in this case we are going to use the rabbet dovetail joint.

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Cutting The Overlap

Using a 3/8" rabbet bit cut the overlap around all four edges of the drawer front.

Setting The Bit Height

The rabbet dovetail joint uses a dovetail router bit to make a rabbet joint. See photo 410-21. To make this joint we first need to install a 1/2" 14 degree dovetail bit. Set the height of the bit to the overlap which was cut on the drawer front as seen in following photo 410-15.

Cutting The Drawer Fronts

The next step is to set the correct distance to the edge of the drawer front to match the bottom cutting edge of the dovetail router bit. This is done by clamping the outfeed side of the table fence in place then aligning the cutting edge of the dovetail bit perpendicular to the fence. Move the fence until the bottom cutting edge is in line with the inside edge of the existing rabbeted overlay of the front.

Make the side cuts on the fronts to match the correct position of the drawer sides only.

If you are making more than one drawer, cut the sides on all drawer fronts at this time.

Cutting The Drawer Sides

Keeping the height of the dovetail bit in the same position we now need to reposition the router fence to cut the sides to match. To make this set up we need to move the fence into a position where the dovetail is cutting into the side. Be sure this cut has the full profile of the dovetail bit.

To make this cut successfully it is important to keep the drawer side tight to both the router table and the fence. We use a safety block on the outside of the drawer side, which will help to keep it tight to the fence and your fingers clear of the cutter.

Make the cuts to all of the required sides. We now have a rabbet dovetail joint creating a lock joint that is stronger than a simple rabbet joint. When the finished drawer is assembled the sides should be tacked in place.