Attaching drawer fronts to your favorite cabinet is not an easy task. Drawer fronts need to align and adjust properly. One single mistake can ruin the alignment and you probably end up with frustration.
Don’t worry. I had the same frustration when I was working on attaching drawer fronts to my kitchen cabinet.
I wanted to attach drawer fronts without using any screws since I wanted to tell my fellow woodworkers that “I did the whole pieces with no screws or nails”. Funny right!
Here’s what I did with the help and advice of many professionals in the field. Let’s figure out, How to attach drawer fronts without screws?
To attach drawer fronts without screws, install dowels using wood glue. First drill two holes in the drawer front and place doweling centers. Then, align and press the drawer box face against the doweling centers. Drill the marked points on the drawer box. Insert dowels and attach the drawer front with the drawer box.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
In this article, we’ll explore how to attach drawer fronts without screws by reviewing each step separately, and we talk about the best way of attaching drawer fronts, how to glue them, tape them, and a lot more.
Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.
Let’s dive in!
What Is the Best Way To Attach the Drawer Front?
There’re several methods you can use to attach the drawer front. Some are super easy and some need special machines to make them easier.
Here’re the best ways to attach the drawer front,
- Attach drawer front using double-sided carpet tape and screws
- Attach drawer front using dowels
Attach drawer front using double-sided carpet tape with screws is the popular method that has lots of how-to guides all over the internet and magazines.
But what if you don’t like to use screws just like me.
Attaching drawer fronts using screws is easier than using dowels. But the metal heads of the screws are visible and the dowel joinery is stronger than the screw joinery.
Attaching drawer fronts using dowels is great in terms of durability and dowels have more holding power than screws. They don’t rust and are thicker and sturdier than the nails and screws.
Therefore, attaching drawer fronts using dowels is the overall best method.
Dowels help to maintain proper alignment between the drawer front and drawer box when attaching and prevent the drawer front from falling off.
Use wood glue to reinforce the wooden dowels even more. Wood glue enhances the dowel strength and adheres to drawer fronts and drawer box so well according to the correct alignment and position.
But please note that since we’re not using any screws or nails, you should always use new, quality wood glue to adhere the drawer front to the drawer box.
I have tested this method and it went so well.
If you’re not familiar with this method, don’t worry! I’ll go through every step in detail and discuss how it should be done precisely.
Tools And Materials To Attach Drawer Fronts Without Screws
- Heavy-duty wood glue
- Clean rags
- Isopropyl alcohol or any other wood cleaner
- A drill or dowel jig
- Drill bit
- Dowel centers
Selecting Correct Dowel Size to Attach Drawer fronts
Use wooden dowels with 1/3 of the thickness of the drawer front and drawer box front combined.
The diameter of the dowel should be no more than the ½ width of the board. For example, when joining ¾ inch boards use 5/16 or 3/8 dowels.
The dowel should go at least half of its length into the drawer front board and the front face of the drawer box.
The Dowel hole should drill 1/16 of an inch deeper than the ½ length of the dowel.
This means if you use a 1 ½ inch dowel, it will go 12/16 inches into each board and the depth of the hole should be 13/16 inch in length. (12/16 + 1/16)
Longer dowels drill too deep into the board and weaken the drawer fronts.
Shorter dowels are not strong enough to hold drawer fronts without falling off.
You can purchase the correct size of dowels from local stores or, you can make your own wooden dowels using the dowel-making jig or router bits.
Tips Before Attaching Drawer Fronts Without Screws
- You can use urethane wood glue such as Gorilla glue or Elmer’s carpenter’s glue which are able to strengthen the dowel joinery so well.
- You can use a dowel jig to drill wood and install dowels instead of using the power drill. Doweling is so much easier with a dowel jig since it can accommodate various diameter bits.
- Drilling with a dowel jig is easy since you can set the depth of the hole and you don’t have to use dowel centers if you already have a dowel jig which is recommended to use instead of a power drill when making dowel joinery.
- If you don’t have a dowel jig having dowel centers is a must align drawer fronts with drawer box faces
- Dowel jig makes precise and perfectly aligned joints
If you already have a dowel jig read the instructions on the jig and easily drill and install dowels. Align precisely to attach the drawer front with the drawer box face without using dowel centers.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a dowel jig with you. I’ll explain how to attach drawer fronts using drill and drill bits. Keep your dowel centers with you.
How To Attach Drawer Fronts Without Screws?
Attaching drawer fronts using dowels and wood glue is easy when you follow the correct method. Always use quality products.
Here’s the procedure for attaching drawer fronts without screws,
- Mark the drilling positions
- Drill two dowel holes on the opposite edges
- Place dowel centers in the holes
- Align the drawer front with the drawer box face and press against the dowel centers
- Drill dowel holes on the drawer box face
- Insert wood glue a little into each hole
- Install dowels into the holes of the drawer front
- Align and attach the drawer front to the drawer box by pulling dowels into the holes
- Test the drawer
- Install hardware pieces
So, let’s discuss each of the above steps in detail to get a clear idea about attaching drawer fronts correctly with the drawer box using no screws.
1. Mark The Drilling Positions
First, you need to align the drawer front with the front face of the drawer front and adjust the position.
Then mark the drilling points on the left and right sides of the drawer front.
Fist dowel should be placed 1 ½ inches from the drawer’s front outside edge and the second dowel should be placed 1 ½ inches from the opposite side edge.
Mark those two positions on the left and right sides of the drawer front using a pencil.
Make sure to keep the drawer front properly aligned with the drawer box face during this time since marks need to be placed in one straight line.
If you find it hard to mark points in a straight line properly when marking drilling positions, you can use a level tool.
Likewise, mark the drilling positions on both the drawer front and drawer box face.
If you feel the size of the drawer front is good to get attached to the drawer box face, it’s time to mark the drilling positions where wooden dowels get installed.
2. Drill Dowel Holes On Drawer Front
After marking the drilling positions take the power drill and install the drill bit to it.
Then drill ¾” to 1” into the drawer front. Drill the left and right side marked positions on the drawer front properly.
Continue until both holes are cut.
Make sure not to drill more than 1 inch deep since it can weaken the drawer front and you’ll probably end up with a loose dowel joint.
Plus, make sure not to drill less than ¾ inch deep since the dowel needs enough room to fit inside the hole, and half of its length should be inside to make a tight joint.
Otherwise, your drawer front may fall off due to poor strength.
3. Place Dowel Centers In The Holes
After making holes in the drawer front you should make the same type of holes on the face of the drawer box as well. That’s where dowels will be inserted.
In order to transfer dowel hole positions from the drawer front to the mating piece which is the face of the drawer box you need dowel centers.
Dowel centers mark the exact positions that should drill on the drawer box face to attach with the drawer face.
Position suitable size dowel centers in the dowel holes on the drawer front and step into the next step.
4. Align The Drawer Front With Drawer Box Face And Press It
Now align the drawer front with dowel centers with the holes of the drawer box face and press them together. Make sure to keep proper alignment mating two faces.
Press the drawer box face against the dowel centers on the drawer front. When pressing dowel centers will leave an indication precisely on the drawer box face to identify the drilling positions.
After that, separate the drawer box from the drawer front and check for marks that indicate where you should drill next to make dowel holes.
If you bought a pack of wooden dowels, the dowel centers mostly come with them. But if you don’t have one, you’ll probably have to purchase dowel centers from a local store.
Or you can take the measurements of the positions, but it is hard since the precision won’t be so good.
5. Drill Dowel Holes On The Drawer Box Face
Now take the power drill and insert the drill bit into it.
Then, drill ¾” to 1” into the drawer box face where the drawer front will attach. Drill the left and right side marked positions on the drawer front properly.
Continue until both holes are cut.
Make sure not to drill more than 1 inch deep since it can weaken the drawer box and you’ll end up with a loose dowel joint.
6. Insert Wood Glue a Little Into Each Hole
Now take the heavy-duty urethane wood glue and insert a little amount into the dowel holes before installing the dowels.
Wood glue strengthens the dowel joinery by reinforcing the dowels. By using wood glue I’m 100% sure the dowel joinery you’re going to make will be significantly stronger than the regular screw joinery method.
Make sure to add only a very little amount of wood glue into dowel holes since they get hardened pretty quickly and adding excess glue can pressure the dowel and surrounding wood area unnecessarily.
Excessive pressure can weaken the dowel joinery and split the surrounding wood fibers.
Plus adding too much glue can squeeze out and make it hard to install wooden dowels into the holes.
Therefore, add wood glue so little and don’t wait for long to apply dowels since wood glue gets hardened quickly.
7. Install Dowels Into The Holes Of the Drawer Front
Install dowels quickly after you add wood glue before it gets hardened. Push dowels inside the holes of the drawer front well to get in contact with wood glue and the wood underneath.
Follow the same procedure and install dowels to both the left and right sides holes of the drawer front.
Wood glue adheres with dowels so well and helps to make a strong bond between the wood and dowel.
8. Align And Attach the Drawer Front To The Drawer Box
After installing the dowels into the holes of the drawer front, align the drawer front properly with the drawer box face.
Make sure dowels are pointed toward the holes on the drawer box face. Then push the drawer front straight onto the drawer box and let the pop-out area of the dowels insert into the holes of the drawer box face.
Push and press the drawer face by hand to close and tighten the dowel joint well.
Dowels will adhere to the wood underneath with the help of wood glue inside the holes.
This is how you should make dowel joinery between drawer fronts and drawer box faces to make strong dowel joinery.
Now clamp the drawer front and drawer box face until the wood glue gets cured for 24 hours.
During these 24 hours, wood glue gets completely hardened and reinforces the dowel joinery between drawer faces.
9. Test The Drawer
After attaching the drawer front to the drawer box let it cure and then start to test it.
Open and close the drawer for few times to see how strong the dowel joinery you made is. Then fill the drawer box with something heavy and try to open it by pulling the drawer face.
The drawer face should come with a drawer box as one single part smoothly with zero noise.
Check several times whether the drawer front and drawer box face have aligned properly.
If you noticed drawer front and drawer box are not aligned properly, immediately separate them using a scraping tool or using a clamp and repeat the same procedure above to make holes again and work on dowel joinery again.
You’ll probably have to fill the dowel holes you made with wood filler and start to make a dowel hole again using the power drill.
10. Install Hardware Pieces
If you’re satisfied with the results, the job is done. But some people like to add stylish hardware like handles to attach to the drawer face.
No worrier. Mark the measurements on the drawer front and No worries!
Mark the measurements on the drawer front and apply a wooden handle or steel one using the same dowel joinery method using wood glue.
But most steel handles support screws, not dowels, therefore, that depends on your personal preference. If you need a handle better to dry the handle from the same wood.
Make dowel holes on each face and insert dowels on the wood handle and press it straight to the drawer front face maintaining proper alignments.
But make sure to install handles from the first attempt correctly since the dowel hole make on the drawer front is difficult to fix and might be visible outside.
That’s it, folks! That’s how to attach drawer fronts without screws and nails. Simple as that!
What if you already got a dowel jig? Awesome. The process is so simple. Don’t worry I got you.
Let’s discuss how to attach drawer fronts using a dowel jig with zero screws.
How To Attach Drawer Fronts Using Dowel Jig?
Attaching drawer fronts using a dowel jig without screws is super easy since it is specially designed to make a dowel joiner.
You can guide the drill bit to drill specific depths using a dowel jig and you can attach the drawer front even without using dowel centers.
Here’s the procedure you want to follow when attaching drawer fronts using a dowel jig,
- Install a drill bit the same size as a wooden dowel to the drill
- Place drawer front into the dowel jig and make two dowel holes on the left and right sides by drilling using
- Each drill hole should be placed 1 ½ inches from the drawer’s front outside edge.
- Then adjust the jig as per the holes made and make the same size and depth holes on the left and right sides of the drawer box face.
- Follow the instruction manual when using the dowel jig and adjusting it.
- Now insert a little amount of wood glue into the dowel holes
- Install dowels into the dowel holes of the drawer front and press them by hand
- Align the drawer front and drawer box face properly by letting dowels attach with the holes on the drawer box face
- Press the drawer front and box face to tighten the dowel joinery to make a strong bond.
- Let wood glue cure and adhere with dowel and wood underneath for 24 hours.
- Test the drawer
Simple as that! No dowel centers, no measurements and it’s super easy.
Therefore, I highly recommend using a dowel jig to attach drawer fronts to the drawer box especially if you are not willing to use screws or nails.
But if you don’t have a dowel jig, no worries, I have already discussed the method of attaching drawer fronts to drawer box faces using a power drill with no screws.
How Do You Glue Drawer Front?
You can glue the drawer front by gluing by spreading wood glue on the inside surface of the drawer front and pressing it with the drawer box face maintaining proper alignments.
Or you can glue the dowel holes inside of the drawer front and install dowels to those. Then, press the drawer front with the drawer box face and attach them by pushing and clamping.
You can use almost any wood glue to attach the drawer front. Urethane wood glue such as Gorilla glue or Elmer’s carpenter’s glue is great for the glue drawer front.
Use quality fresh products to get promising results when attaching drawer fronts.
How To Attach Drawer Fronts Using Tape?
You can attach drawer fronts using double-sided carpet tape.
Here’s how to do that,
- First, apply 4 tape pieces on the 4 corners of the drawer box face.
- Then false attach drawer fronts to the drawer box face using double tape
- Then align and adjust them properly
- Then screw the drawer box face from the inside for the appropriate screw size
- Next, finalize attaching drawer fronts to the drawer box face
That’s it, folks!
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
How Do You Fix Drawer Front from Falling Off?
You can fix the drawer front from falling off by separating the drawer front from the drawer box and assembling them again with new screws.
First, you need to separate the drawer front from the drawer box by removing the screws inside the drawer box inside. Then, fix the old screw holes by filling them with wood filler.
Then let the wood filler get harden and then, clean it so the drawer front aligns properly with the drawer box face using double-sided carpet tape.
After that drill a new screw hole and attach the drawer front with the drawer box face with new screws. This is the easiest method of fixing the drawer from falling off.
What Is The Best Joint For The Front Of A Drawer?
Half blind dovetail joint is the best joint for the front of the drawer. Dovetail joints are specialized to make drawer boxes and furniture making.
Dovetail joints can hold weight pretty well and they are strong wood joint types. Use a dovetail jig to join drawer parts together to keep falling them off for a long time.
How Do You Attach Fake Drawer Front?
You can attach the fake drawer front by applying double-sided carpet tape on the face of the drawer box and attach the drawer front to the drawer box face with proper alignments.
Double-sided carpet tape cannot hold the drawer front for too long and the false attach method is useful to align the drawer front and drawer box face properly until you pre-drill the drawer box face from the inside.
Fake attach is helpful to hold the drawer front well without falling it off when you’re getting measurements.
How To Attach Overlay Drawer Front?
You can attach the overlay drawer front using screws, and tape of dowels. Apply double-sided tape over the drawer box face and align the drawer front with it.
Then do the drilling and attach boards with your preferable method with screws or without screws.
How To Attach Shaker Drawer Front?
- Align wood piece with drawer box face and take measurements
- Then cut the wood and make a drawer front
- Insert trim to the base of the drawer box
- Install the trim pieces inside using wood glue
- Attach the drawer front to the drawer box using wood glue or screws
- Test the drawer
How Are Kitchen Drawer Fronts Attached?
You can attach kitchen drawer fronts by,
- Appling 4 double-sided carpet tape pieces on the 4 corners of the kitchen drawer box face.
- Then false attach kitchen drawer fronts to the drawer box face using double tape
- Then align and adjust them properly
- Then screw the kitchen drawer box face from the inside for the appropriate screw size
- Next, finalize attaching drawer fronts to the drawer box face
Or you can attach the kitchen drawer front same procedure as we discussed above using dowels and dowel jigs.
Simple as that!
Did I cover all you wanted to know about: How To Attach Drawer Fronts Without Screws?
In this article, we explored, how to attach drawer fronts without screws and nails and what materials and tools you should use, and how to make the project succeed with a power drill and also with dowel jig with tips.
You can attach drawer fronts without screws using a dowel jig. First, make dowel holes on the drawer front and use drawer centers to identify dowel hole positions on the drawer box face. Then drill the dowel holes in the drawer box. Next, insert dowels into the holes of the drawer front and push it straight forward to attach with the holes on the drawer box using wood glue.
Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions as well.
Hope you learned everything you wanted to know about, how to attach drawer fronts without screws.
Practice making dowel joinery between drawer fronts and drawer boxes perfectly and show how you are good at making a perfect drawer box without using any screws or nails. Be a champ!