Tool Drawer Organiser: Episode 4

Tool Drawer Episode 4 Keyframe

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Paul kicks off this episode by measuring up the drawer fronts. He demonstrates how to measure the front panels to ensure a snug fit into the carcass. After planing the ends of the drawer front, using his Knifewall technique, Paul cuts the wood down to size. After this he continues with the drawer construction and demonstrates the layout and the cutting for the half-lap dovetail joints.


  1. Michael van Zadelhoff on 20 March 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Great work as always.

    I have done a couple of blind dovetails but often it’s not perfect enough for what i like. And when you’re not satisfied you need to analyse what went wrong or what could be done better. My problem starts with the tails. If those are not perfect, the pins won’t be too. Next time, and that’s pretty soon, i know to take extra care when cutting the tails.

  2. Martesen on 20 March 2019 at 9:56 pm

    It’s often the throwaway comments that provide the golden nuggets of learning in Paul’s videos – blink and you’ve missed it – I just caught the mention of veneering the drawer front to get the book matched look!

  3. Anthony H on 21 March 2019 at 3:22 am

    What chisel is Paul using here to cut the dovetails? Definitely not the Aldi chisels.

    • Kurt Schultz on 21 March 2019 at 10:29 am

      They sure look like Aldi to me save for the top bands removed along with brandings from handle and steel.

    • Izzy Berger on 21 March 2019 at 11:39 am

      Hi Anthony,

      These are the Aldi chisels.

      Kind Regards,

  4. Bill Hall on 21 March 2019 at 8:40 am

    Enjoyed this episode very much! While I’m not building this project (yet!), Paul taught this very same process for the drawer making on the workbench. The drawer I made for my workbench, using this same process, came out about as perfect as I could have ever imagined.

  5. Antonio Santos on 22 March 2019 at 10:46 pm

    I didn’t understood how Paul made the exact book match of the door fronts? He used veneer? It was too fast, I didn’t understood.

    • Flemming Aaberg on 25 March 2019 at 9:48 am

      I also did not understand what this meant.

    • Ed on 25 March 2019 at 12:08 pm

      To do a book match, you resaw a piece of material and open it like a book to get a reflected pattern. One way is to start with material a bit more than twice as thick as you need, but that can require thick material and you won’t know what you’re going to get until you resaw. Look carefully at the video at around 1:12. You can see in the end grain that one of the pieces has a lamination that is about 1/8″ thick. I believe what he did was to resaw material off of one of his pieces, because he liked the grain pattern, and then he glued that veneer onto the other drawer front. This produces book matched drawer fronts (or slip matched, if you don’t flip it). Maybe he resawed 1/4 or 3/16 to leave room to plane down to get what looks like 1/8″ in the video? I’m guessing at dimensions. If he started with 5/4 material, he’d have enough thickness to do this and then equalize both pieces to his final drawer front thickness of 3/4″. Without this trick, he’d need to start with something like 8/8 and he’d not know what pattern he’d get until he resawed. Anyway, that’s what it looks like to me.

      • Antonio Santos on 25 March 2019 at 11:30 pm

        Thanks for the detailed explanation.

      • Flemming Aaberg on 26 March 2019 at 8:57 am

        Thanks Ed

      • ted clawton on 23 February 2020 at 5:27 am

        FYI in case you’re having trouble seeing it at 1:12 then slow the video down; also, you might see it a bit more clearly at around 6:53.

        Thanks Ed for the explanation, thanks Paul for the clarification and further explanation, and thanks Paul for these kinds of beautification ideas, I’d love to see more and more of them.

        • ted clawton on 24 February 2020 at 6:40 am

          Just noticed you can see quite well what Paul did with this at 32:33. Thanks for the neat technique, Paul!

    • Izzy Berger on 25 March 2019 at 12:25 pm

      Hi Antonio,

      Paul says:

      I simply glued the one drawer front to the face of the other drawer front and had allowed extra thickness on the first one so that when I cut through to create the drawer fronts, the book match was perfect. So, what we have is a full thickness drawer front on one and a veneer on the other.

      Kind Regards,

  6. noho on 25 March 2019 at 9:50 pm

    I’m a bit confused about the length of the sides. How do you measure them ?
    You cant simply slide them in place and mark them where they match the front face of the carcass, due to the half-lap joint.

    • Izzy Berger on 27 March 2019 at 3:38 pm


      Could you please clarify further to help us understand your question?

      Kind Regards,

      • noho on 27 March 2019 at 6:57 pm

        Hi Izzy,

        My question is about drawer making (not specific to this project) :
        I understand how to get accurate dimensions for the drawer’s front and back. However, for the drawer sides, what is the best way to cut them accurately to length (so that once the half-blind dovetails are cut and the sides are attached to the front, the front of the drawer is aligned with the carcass of the box/chest)

        (my first message was indeed pretty poor !! hope it’s clearer now 🙂 )

        • Izzy Berger on 29 March 2019 at 10:14 am


          Thank you for clarifying.

          Paul says:
          Although that could be possible, I doubt whether most people, including myself, could actually get the drawer dead to size so it perfectly aligns. Therefore we generally make it slightly oversized and plane down to suit.

          Kind Regards,

          • Ed on 29 March 2019 at 12:48 pm

            Izzy, I think he’s asking about something else. I think the answer to his question is that the drawer sides are cut somewhat short so that the assembled drawer is shorter than the interior depth of the carcase. A stop block will be installed to get the drawer face to match the front of the carcase. When the drawer is pushed in against the stop, the face is flush, but the back of the drawer will have some clearance with the back of the carcase, maybe half an inch to an inch. So, the drawer side length is the least important dimension of all. The placement of the stop block is what matters, not the length of the sides, and even then you probably set the block so as to leave the face a hair proud and then take a shaving or two from the drawer face to get things exactly right.

          • noho on 29 March 2019 at 10:30 pm

            thanks Izzy, answers completely my question. Been thinking over and over again how to do it, but indeed looks like the way to go is to oversize a bit and plane to adjust.
            Thanks !

          • Selva on 30 March 2019 at 2:52 pm

            Izzy, I’m puzzled by this answer and noho’s response. As ed described, the drawer sides will have to be undersized in length by a good amount and stops installed in the front as shown by Paul in a number of other videos.

            The carcass (carcase for some) has grain running in the vertical plane, so it could expand and contract by as much as 1/4″ with seasonal changes (16″ wide flat sawn pine). But the drawer sides will hardly shrink or expand along its length (i.e., along the depth of the carcass). Cutting oversized, and then planing down the drawer side length for an exact fit does not make sense to me.

  7. joeleonetti on 27 March 2019 at 3:31 am

    Thanks Paul. Recently I tried that step down method you showed here and some other videos. It’s amazing at how much that 1/16″ step down helps when transferring.

  8. gerald Anania on 5 April 2019 at 3:49 pm

    I have been watching Paul use his router for sometime. I was suddenly curious what blade he used to mark and then remove material, Pointed or square faced. While watching his use in routing the shallow rebate on the organizer I noticed he was using the pointed end. That was when he showed us the router just before actually marking the wood. Then when he actually marked the wood he used the corner of a square faced blade.
    I am just trying to see what his recommendation is when to use a pointed blade and when to use the square faced blade.

    • Izzy Berger on 8 April 2019 at 4:03 pm

      Hi Gerald,

      Paul says:
      I didn’t use a pointed router blade at all, and rarely ever do. You may have seen me using the corner.

      Kind Regards,

      • gerald Anania on 9 April 2019 at 9:13 pm

        At 13:26 Video show Paul showing a pointed blade in the router saying it is set for 1/16 inch . As he said and as I also said in my first comment he definitely used the corner of the flat blade to mark the rebate. hat was why I was confused. I have the answer I was looking for which is the square faced blade is almost all ways used.
        thank you for the organizer drawer project.
        I am using Butternut which I have had for years but initially using a table saw to size the work . I decided to stop using the butternut because even with a vacuum attachment the table saw put an unbelievable amount of very fine dust it into the air. Cleanup was unbelievable.. Not an issue with using Pauls hand tool work. Air quality just another advantage to not using machines.

        • Ed on 9 April 2019 at 10:08 pm

          Gerald, look at 13:38. Even though it really, truly looks like a pointed cutter at 13:26, you’re actually seeing the heel of the iron, not the cutting edge. This is clear at 13:38.

  9. whitewolf on 5 September 2019 at 10:12 am

    Could you explain me the reason to have the small rabbet on the side of the drawers sides?
    Sorry for my english, I am belgian…
    It would be great also to have subtitles in french, or if not in english, because it’s difficult for a foreigner to understand all the explanations of Paul

    • Izzy Berger on 9 September 2019 at 2:58 pm

      Hi Michel,

      Paul says:
      It’s my way of simplifying half lap dovetails because the small rebate gives perfect registration against the inside face of the drawer front, resulting in perfect management of the two components.

      Kind Regards,

  10. Jim Allen on 5 September 2019 at 7:54 pm

    Hi Michael,
    If I understand your question correctly It’s about the half blind dovetails? The rabbet is to help line up the front board with the side piece so your layout will be aligned perfectly. –Jim

    • whitewolf on 8 September 2019 at 1:07 pm

      Hello Jim, thanks for your answer.
      Yes you understand correctly. And I understand the reason…:)
      Is it the usual way to do for half blind dovetails ?

      • Paul Rowell on 8 September 2019 at 9:16 pm

        You can use the same technique for both types of dovetail.

      • Jim Allen on 11 September 2019 at 8:43 pm

        Michael, To answer your question on the shallow rabbet, I don’t know if it is the usual way or not. I have seen others use the same technique as Paul. I have tried two other methods of alignment that worked okay but Paul’s method is fool proof. The only drawback to the rabbet that I can see is you need a router plane or maybe you could use the “poor man’s router”. Perhaps in the future Paul will show a different method of aligning the two pieces for marking. –Jim

        • whitewolf on 15 September 2019 at 9:32 pm

          Thanks for the answer Jim,
          I have a record router plane. And I use it to do the rabbets on the drawers side.
          I just end my first two half blind dovetails, and they are not too bad for the firsts !

  11. eric cartman on 16 November 2020 at 3:31 pm

    I’ve never understood the rationale behind the circular motion use of the bench plane. As far as I can tell, Mr Sellers only does it on end grain, but I find that planing end grain in a straight line also gives tolerably good results, so I was wondering what added benefit is obtained by the circular motion?

  12. deanbecker on 16 November 2020 at 4:25 pm

    Eric. If i dont back up end grain and plane with straight strokes it is a lot easier to over shoot and spelch the end of the board. If using circular motions, when you miss you are coming off at an angle and damage is minimized.
    Of course the best thing is to control things so you dont overshoot but it does happen at times.

  13. YrHenSaer on 16 November 2020 at 6:13 pm

    The difference between circular, strokes of the plane blade on end-grain and straight, push strokes is that the former is a curving, slicing action – the latter, push stroke, compresses the grain. It’s a bit like slicing across your steak with a sharp knife and attempting to push the knife through. Both will cut the meat -slicing requires less force.

    You’ll notice that Paul goes nowhere near the far edge of the board – stopping short. As an alternative to this you may glue a sacrificial piece to prevent break-out which can be removed later. This way you can plane straight through without stopping. Both work.

  14. eric cartman on 16 November 2020 at 8:25 pm

    ahhh, thank you Dean. That makes sense !

  15. eric cartman on 16 November 2020 at 8:26 pm

    thank you @yrHenSaer

  16. Michael Fraser on 1 September 2021 at 5:11 am

    Hey everyone. Just wondering about the species of timber that is used for the drawer front – it appears to be a hardwood (to my non-trained eye).

    Is it okay to mix soft and hardwoods in this instance? I thought it was generally frowned upon as they expand/shrink at different rates.

  17. Sven-Olof Jansson on 4 September 2021 at 8:20 pm

    Hi Michael,

    The comment at 32:42, I think tells that the drawer fronts are made from cherry (guessing on European cherry [Prunus avium]).

    The photo of the attached link shows a “plinth with drawers” with white oak, birch, basswood (lime tree), and Scots pine combined. For whatever it’s worth: there have been no problems with wood movements over the four seasons.

    Veneered 17th and 18th century pieces that I’ve seen also seem unproblematic, despite the quite thick European walnut veneer being on top of pine or ashen.

    Assuming a wish for the drawer fronts to fit very snugly, choosing cherry above pine perhaps risks less of the drawer getting stuck?

  18. Michael Fraser on 14 September 2021 at 1:00 am

    Thanks for the reply Sven, very useful information 🙂

  19. Sven-Olof Jansson on 14 September 2021 at 8:43 pm

    My pleasure Michael.

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