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Drawer-Lock Bit

The one-bit solution to strong interlocking joints.

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Mill the Fronts

Mill the Fronts

The unique geometry of a drawer-lock bit creates a strong bond between perpendicular pieces. And the joint is not only functional, but attractive as well.

Unlike stub tenons made on a tablesaw, the wedge-shaped tenons created by a drawer-lock bit self-align both workpieces for a perfectly mating joint. Furthermore, once you've set the bit to the correct height, you need only adjust your router-table fence to make a variety of mating cuts.

One safety note before we get into using this bit: Remember that a drawer-lock bit should always be used in a router table, never a handheld router.

Start by setting up your router table and milling the fronts

1) If your router table doesn't have a split fence, you'll need to build out the fence almost the full diameter of the bit. That's because most of the bit must be captured inside the fence when milling drawer or box sides.

Close up the opening around the bit by making an auxiliary face for your router table fence. For our 2"-diameter bit, we cut a 5/8x2-1/4" dado in a scrap of 1/2" medium-density fiberboard (MDF), then clamped it to the router table fence with the dado centered over the bit, as shown below.

2) Mount the drawer-lock bit in your table-mounted router, and set the top of the cutter so that it's 15/32" above the tabletop.


3) Calculate the fence position by adding your drawer front's intended overlap (if any) and the thickness of your drawer side. Position your router table fence that distance back from the upper cutting edge of the bit.

For example, if your drawer front will overlap the sides by 3/8", and the sides are 1/2"-thick, put the fence 7/8" back from the lower part of the bit. For flush-mount drawers, or drawers to which you'll add a false front, place the fence only the thickness of the drawer side from the bit's lower cutting edge.

(You also could use this dimension for milling the drawer backs. But here in the WOODŽ magazine shop, we like to cut the backs with the same overlap as the fronts, then trim them to size. This ensures that the inside dimensions of the drawer remain constant.)

4) To prevent tearout while milling the fronts, attach a backer board to your miter gauge so that the backer board just touches the auxiliary fence face, as shown above.

5) With your drawer front already cut to finished size, place it faceup on the router table. Keep one end of the drawer front against the router table fence and mill the workpiece using the miter gauge as a guide. Turn the workpiece around, keeping it face-up, and mill the other end. If you're making more than one drawer, machine all of the drawer fronts (and backs, if you like) using this setup.

Continued on page 2:  Side Work


Comments (6)
dickpatt wrote:

The problem is with the above table dimension given in the article of 15/32" table to top of top cutter. I struggled and ground up scrap wood for nearly an hour and a half and finally decided to quit trying to use that dimension and creep up on the right size that made it fit. Changing that 15/32" to 19/32" made the Diablo bit work perfectly for me. Hope this saves some gray hair for someone!

11/27/2015 05:13:04 PM Report Abuse
sdwbuildgmail wrote:

jnjgardnergmai are you still having trouble setting up your drawer lock bit? I can talk you through a very simple setup routine. I'm sorry but this article is a bit (pun intended) off. Let me know.

9/27/2015 12:40:08 PM Report Abuse
jnjgardnergmai wrote:

using this method The tendon on the side piece is to large to fit into the front recess. I am using a 2" Freud bit no.99-240 which appears to be the same as that used in the demo. Can someone help.

6/15/2015 06:14:10 PM Report Abuse
Drachengeist wrote:

Adjusting the fence between the upper and lower edges of the bit on different pieces is what lets you make perfectly mating tongue and groove cuts for this joint. You could probably move your hand over to hold the piece as necessary. But with the left hand pressing in on the jig and the right hand pushing, the workpiece is trapped on 3 sides. It would have to shift forward against the bit to move out of place.

3/5/2015 12:07:46 PM Report Abuse
bobg63 wrote:

How is it that in one part of this article they are telling you to have the fence back so far from the top part of the bit and lower in the same article they are telling you to have the fence back so far from the lower part of the bit; which are different distances from the fence??

2/3/2011 11:33:04 PM Report Abuse
gtidings1 wrote:

I appreciate the paper copy of the magazine and the cascading online flow of tips and techniques. In the last photo of the drawer bit instructions under router techniques, there are two hands but neither is holding the work piece. This looks impractical, what am I missing? Thanks.

11/19/2009 08:56:58 AM Report Abuse

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