Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

Drawer Repair

Shortly after moving home at the end of last month/beginning of this one, I was asked to repair a drawer for someone. Sadly, it wasn’t of the traditional all-wooden construction. But, with a thin sheet of paper containing an image of the Queen being waved in my face, I said I’d have a look at this chipboard conundrum.

You shouldn’t need me to say that I’m no fan of mass-produced chipboard furniture, particularly when they cover it with printed paper and try to fool people in to believing the unit or piece is made from real wood! 🙄 So, I’m just going to get on and show you how I went about making things as good as I could (which is, quite possibly, better than when the drawer was new! 😉 ).

It’s a common situation where one of these drawers (designed to slide under a bed, for storage) has been overloaded and the front’s come away as the user has tried (and failed) to pull open the drawer, which is ether stuck where the base has fallen out or, it’s just to heavy. Either way, that front is the only part of the drawer that’s going to come out from under the bed!!

I imagine that the average person (ie. not a woodworker) would, in this situation, being inclined to throw the drawer away or, force it back in to the opening and remember never to attempt to try and use it again. Some may even have the audacity to try and screw it back together (through the fabric-covered front?!) but, as chipboard has the compound strength of dry Weetabix, that’s unlikely to fully resolve the situation, particularly where the dowels used in the construction process have ripped some of the surrounding chips out with them.

My solution then, was to remove the material between each pair of holes using my router and, to then fill this groove in with a slice of solid English oak (which is what the manufacturers were hoping the back and sides would resemble…).

By then re-drilling the two holes for a hammer-tight fit, I’d be able to reassemble the drawer construction with more confidence than before. That new splice of solid wood would give the dowels and the adhesive something reassuring to bite in to. To further reinforce the joint, I also decided to add a single no.10 biscuit, located centrally between each pair of dowels.

Without wanting to remove (and, potentially lose) all the other various bits, bobs and fixings which would prevent the fence of my biscuit jointer from resting firmly against either face of both sides, I used double-sided tape to fix a scrap of 9mm MDF in place, which would allow my Makita jointer to sit parallel and securely while I made each cut.

After reassembling with Titebond glue (only thirty-minutes in the cramps), the drawer has so far lived up to my expectations and made it through the initial few weeks of use. Without no signs of the joints separating so far, I’m fairly confident to say that it may even last through the summer, as well! 😉

It’s not pretty and, it may look like overkill but, it appears to have done the job and I’ve saved another piece of rubbish [literally!] from going to land-fill.

Now, if this ever happens to you (and, yes, it did happen to me a couple of years ago) then, hopefully, this has given you some ideas on how to get yourself through a similar situation.

Thanks for reading.

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2 responses to “Drawer Repair

  1. joeabbott 05/05/2011 at 15:47

    I like the bit of ingenuity, Olly. I’ve lived with my share of chipboard furniture, too, so I’ve become a connoisseur of fixing these things. But my results are seldom long-lived.

    In the picture showing the clamped glue-up, the oak insert appears to be proud of the drawer backing by a fair amount. Am I seeing an extra shim piece that you used just to distribute the clamping load, or is something else going on here?

    • Olly Parry-Jones 05/05/2011 at 22:27

      Well spotted, Joe!

      You’re looking at part of the same oak insert piece. Nothing special going on here; I was just being a bit lazy and had left myself with plenty of material to plane flush later. I forgot to mention this in the post but, I later used my router to flush it almost down to the surface, bringing it perfectly down to level with a block plane after that.

      Thanks for your comment,

      Olly.

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