Canadian Woodworking

Drawer lock joinery

Author: Michel Theriault
Published: February March 2005
Drawer Lock
Drawer Lock

In addition to using the router to help make traditional joints, you can use the router and a single bit to make unique joints that solve specific joinery issues.


With the Drawer Lock bit you can quickly assemble drawers with strong, yet easy to make joints due to the interlocking construction and larger glue surface it offers. Two sizes of Drawer Lock bits are generally available, one for stock from 1/4″ to 1/2″ and another for stock from 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick.

Rout the side

Rout the front/back

What you will need

To make this joint, you need a router table and a Drawer Lock bit, available from most woodworking suppliers. The smaller bit is shown, suitable for material up to 1/2″ thick.

How to make the joint

While the bit is very easy to use, set-up is essentially trial and error.

1. In your router table, set the bit 1/4″ high, with the fence positioned so the centre of the stock lines up with the middle of the 45° portion of the bit.

2. Mill extra stock, the same thickness as your project stock use as test pieces for fine tuning your set-up. First, rout a side piece, with the stock facing the router fence. Then, rout the mating front/back piece, with the stock flat on the router table. Test fit the pieces.

3. Assemble a front/back piece with a side piece; they need to be flush at the corner. If the front/back piece is too short, move the fence closer to the bit. If the front/back piece extends past the side piece, move the fence farther away from the bit. Repeat until the pieces are flush at the corner.

4. The 45° section should fit tightly, with small gaps at the ends. If this isn’t the case, raise the bit. If the gaps are too large, lower the bit. Repeat until the pieces fit well.

5. After you have finalized your set-up, rout another test piece to use for set-up the next time you use your bit with the same thickness stock. Label the pieces.

6. Rout all the drawer front and back pieces with the stock flat against the router table, and rout the side pieces with the stock against the fence.

7. Rout a groove for the drawer bottom.

8. Insert the drawer bottom, apply glue to the joints, and clamp together for a strong drawer.


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    1. I wouldn’t recommend using it on plywood. The tiny lip on the end of the side piece is likley to break off. Best to cut a dado in the side pieces and a matching rabbet on the front and back pieces.

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