Melamine is among the top choices of woodworkers to make drawer boxes. It has a long-lasting and low-maintenance solution to match your furniture, shelves, and flooring style effortlessly and cost-effectively.
So for your reference, we’ll show you how to make melamine drawer boxes along with a few pro tips and tricks.
Can Melamine Be Used for Making Drawers?
Of course! In fact, melamine is a solid alternative to making drawer boxes, aside from plywood. Melamine is easy to paint, stain, and clean. They’re economically friendly, plus the boards are inexpensive.
To make a melamine drawer box, you first need a ¾ inches melamine to define the box and another quarter-inch for its bottom. Install the undermount slides and specify the size of the drawer box. After that, cut the pieces.
The next thing you must do is make a dado cut on the quarter-inch melamine of each side. The last step is to install the box with slides and attach the melamine drawer fronts.
Furthermore, drawer boxes made of melamine have this aesthetic essence, giving your space a more luxurious look, especially if you find the perfect color, pattern, and texture. Before making your melamine drawer box, there are things you should avoid.
The first is not to skip pre-drilling. Before using any screws in the board, always pre-drill to prevent them from splitting.
Drilling into melamine projects can be tricky as they are prone to chipping. It would help if you drilled a tiny guide hole through the middle first.
Now, drill halfway through one side before switching to the other to avoid tearing out the bottom side. Another drilling technique is to clamp your melamine to a sacrificial board. Drill them straight from the top.
Next, do not use gun nails as they will not hold on to melamine. However, you may use them at the back of a cupboard. Use smaller screws instead.
Since melamine drawers have particleboard cores, they will not endure water exposure. As soon as the liquid passes through melamine, the board will swell. This can lose the melamine drawer’s structural integrity.
Despite its great look, melamine is susceptible to moisture and water damage. But you can avoid these with correct maintenance.
Utilizing Undermount Slides for Melamine Drawers
Lucky for you, two mounting options are available in melamine drawer installations. You may choose between side mount and undermount slides. These two are under the melamine drawer and only need a small clearing space. This leaves you with more space inside your drawer.
Most individuals use side-mount slides. However, this option only holds a little load or weight.
If you wish to put heavy objects in the drawer, the best choice would be the undermount slide. This mounting slide can carry more load and provide better assistance as they have superior dimensional stability.
Another factor you should consider about undermount slides is they have less chance of getting dirty. You can avoid dirt, dust, and accidental spills because they’re beneath your melamine board.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Melamine for Making Drawers
Overall, melamine can be an excellent choice for constructing drawer boxes. This is because you can fix our listed deficiencies with proper care and good products.
You may also solve the chipping concern by purchasing specialized blades. It may be costly, but we suggest investing in some quality blades if you work with melamine frequently.
In addition, always ensure to protect your hands. When doing your woodwork project, it is essential to wear gloves. This shields your precious hands from sharp-edged melamine.
You can clean up the chips using chip repair that comes in various colors. Choose the one that matches your melamine drawer’s finish.
Constructing Melamine Drawer Boxes: Supplies and Steps
Knowing the materials you will use for your next woodworking project is vital to avoid encountering issues. If you choose to make your drawer box using melamine, read the following section of this article to guide your new woodworking project.
Things You’ll Need
Step #1: Install undermount slides for the drawers.
Always ensure to install the undermount drawer slides with their correct alignments. You can identify the drawer box’s size and dimensions by knowing the undermount slides’ position.
First, you should at least have an idea regarding the width and height of the drawer. Get scrap wood, then cut a portion the same size as the drawer you try assembling.
Note that the scrap piece of wood must be 3.5 to 4 inches wide. Next, place the wood in the box and label the placement lines.
In addition, face the frame beneath the drawer slides to check if you made the alignments correctly. This helps install the undermount slides quickly without mistakes.
Next, put the wood in the drawer box, then draw a vertical line parallel to the box’s side. The bracket must align similarly to the crossbar frame for a balanced and proportional drawer.
Another step is to label the crossbars within the box’s face frame and mark ⅜ inches towards the left-hand side of the scrap wood’s vertical orientation.
Remember that the bracket on the slides must mount scrap wood pieces. Using screws, attach the backside of the box to the nail strips.
Repeat the procedure to mount the right side. This method is actually more straightforward compared to the side mount’s slide. The front area of the slide must attach to the side of the slide with screws.
Step #2: Determine the appropriate size and dimensions of the drawer box.
After installing the undermount slides appropriately, determining the drawer box’s dimensions is basic. Always remember that the slides’ length resembles the drawer box’s depth. Furthermore, the gap between the outer edges of your slides must be similar to the box’s width.
For instance, if your slides are 20 inches long, cut two pieces that are 20 inches long for the sides. Moreover, if the gap between your drawer’s outside edges is eighteen inches, you should cut the pieces eighteen inches for the back and front sides of the drawer box.
Step #3: Cut the necessary melamine pieces for the drawer box.
Before starting this step, ensure your box has back and front panels. Additionally, there should be a single bottom panel and two panels for the sides.
Now, cut the five melamine pieces and note the dimensions you are cutting on paper before cutting the board. Here are what you should always keep in mind:
In addition, the height must be one inch smaller than the face frame’s size. If not, you will face issues sliding your drawer into its cabinet box.
Aside from that, your bottom panels must be just a half longer and broader than the drawer box’s dimensions. This is essential because you will get a quarter-inch clearance from all four sides, helping with the bottom panel’s insertion.
Step #4: Create dados for the bottom panel.
You should first create the dado grooves for all four drawer panels. If you have a blade, make a half-inch depth around the drawer panels’ bottom — it’s an excellent depth where the drawer box can fit into.
On the other hand, if you do not have one, you can still make a few passes using a table saw ‘til you get a quarter inch wide. But ensure your first pass is half an inch from the table.
After that, proceed with the melamine pieces so you can make cuts. That allows you to make easier cuts. Note that it is acceptable not to adjust your panels separately. However, you should widen the fence for a quarter-inch dado groove.
Before anything else, test the result using scrap wood to check if the quarter-inch panel fits correctly into your groove. If yes, continue making dado grooves.
Step #5: Make pocket holes.
You may assemble the panels using pocket holes or wood glue & brads. Always use wood putty or wood filler as your hardening compound for using brads.
Take the back and front drawer panels and make double pocket holes on the ends using your Kreg pocket jig or your best pocket hole jig. Pocket holes are invisible on the outside since they are at the back of the drawer. Aside from that, they get covered by the drawer face in front.
To further cover them, you may use adhesive cover caps with various colors. It hides the heads and covers damages or defects when pre-drilling. Although these adhesive cover caps work sufficiently, they sometimes leave a protruding lid, which is not great.
Step #6: Cut a notch in the drawer box to fit the undermount slide.
Cutting the notch in the wood provides a space for the undermount slide. Cut the notch about half an inch above the bottom edge of the drawer.
You must also cut one and a half inches on every side of the drawer back to allow room for the slide. It helps the slides to stay on the melamine drawer’s bottom.
Step #7: Sand the drawer box for smoothness.
Although you can skip this step, sanding the melamine boards smoothens the drawer box to easily remove dirt on its surface. Our resident woodworkers recommend using a palm sander or orbital sander to sand the surface evenly. Another excellent option is using fine-grit sandpaper.
Sand lightly and gently. Do not put too much force to avoid scratching your melamine drawer box’s surface.
Step #8: Assemble the Melamine drawer box.
After sanding and cleaning the surface, you may assemble your melamine drawer box. To make melamine drawer boxes with complete parts, you should have four panels with a single bottom panel.
Get your best wood glue and position a line of adhesive along the edge of the side piece. Next, place and fit the melamine piece with the back panel attaching the pocket screws. Do this repeatedly for the other sides as well. Take the bottom panel and slide it.
After that, add a wood glue line on the edge of the drawer’s front panel. Place and fit the panel with the side panels securing the screws.
Step #9: Attach the undermount drawer slide latch.
Your undermount drawer slides should come with a latch to attach during assembling. The latches attached help in removing the melamine drawer by pressing them together.
Mount them on the bottom edges of the drawer slides using pocket screws facing the front panel. To install the melamine drawer, put it on top of the slide’s tracks and push until you hear the latches click. Look for a tab on the box to glide in the back direction.
Pull and push your melamine drawer several times to learn the exact tab position. Doing this method, pulling and pushing, leaves a tiny mark on the tab.
Once you get the tab mark, drill a quarter-inch hole and a half-inch deep on the sides of the melamine drawer. This makes the tab fit into the hole once you position it on the under-mount drawer box and lock it forward.
Step #10: Apply edge banding to exposed edges.
You are getting closer to finishing your melamine drawer box! The finished melamine product can look awesome, but its raw edges can be unpleasant. This tenth step is the last step you must do without mistakes before finalizing your woodwork project.
Remember that edge banding comes in numerous textures and colors from authentic wood. You will be fine in finding the one that fits your melamine board.
You purchase iron-on edge banding at any home center. After all, it is the easiest solution — applying peel-and-stick or self-adhesive edge banding.
The cool thing about these wood stickers is that they come in various lengths, widths, and colors. Now, try applying the edge banding of your choice along the melamine drawer box before attaching it to the drawer.
Sometimes, it uses iron heat. We want you to ensure your iron is set to its hottest temperature. Move your hot iron over the edge banding tape to dissolve the glue. On the other hand, if you are working with self-adhesive edge banding, you may skip this step.
You can peel off the paper support and attach the edge banding to the board edge. After doing those steps, put edge banding on the melamine hanging over the edge slightly on each side. Place your iron on top and run it along the stripe.
Keep doing it until the banding attaches to the board. As you can see, edge banding sticks well to the board if you keep taking the iron back and forth. Remove the iron and allow the surface to cool down.
Remember, you do not need a special iron to do this. Any standard house iron can work perfectly, but you can get a sealing iron if you feel fancy.
Edge banding conceals the assembling parts of the drawer, making it look professional. Cut the excess lengths on the edges using a knife to achieve the look.
Also, you can remove the lip by scraping it with a 120-grit sanding block or sandpaper. But do this gently — just enough to hide the marks and smoothen the surface. The last thing you want to accomplish is to damage your edge bonding if you sand it with too much force.
Step #11: Seal and finish the drawer box.
You are almost there! Now, it is time to seal and finish them using a tack cloth. Note that you need a lint-free tack cloth and polyurethane  to seal all the surfaces.
Polyurethane is the preferred wood sealing and finishing commodity by most woodworkers. It helps protect your furniture from various elements.
Aside from that, this product protects the melamine wood from weather impacts and water damage. It also prevents moisture, environmental humidity, UV light, and insect attacks.
Pour only the necessary amount into a container and soak clean cloth by dipping. Next, wipe the drawer surface evenly without mistakes in a single direction without missing any areas.
Our primary goal is to keep the wood fresh for as long as possible. However, if you are unfamiliar with polyurethane, our woodworkers recommend using Danish oil, teak oil, or linseed oil to seal your drawer.
To make the melamine drawer boxes durable and well-finished, dry them well for six hours minimum. This is crucial because poor drying time can make your melamine drawer look tacky.
Step #12: Mount the drawer front face onto the drawer box.
To mount your melamine drawer and front accurately to the box, clamp them together in appropriate alignments. After that, drill pilot holes in the box, but do this before applying the wood screws to avoid making the holes bigger. Then fit the drawer face onto the box.
That is all you need to follow to make drawer boxes using melamine and how you can mount and install them properly in your cupboard box!
What Is the Method for Joining Melamine Pieces Together?
Jointing melamine is different from joining regular woods, like plywood. For instance, melamine’s surface is slick and does not hold that long with ordinary wood glue. Instead, use a superior melamine glue for stronger adhesiveness.
Another jointing method for melamine is using cam fittings. With this, you can make tight butt joints and not have to cut one single groove. This process is also more budget and beginner-friendly.
Here are some of the tools you need for cam fittings:
On top of all those, you may join two melamine pieces together using other carpentry techniques. The rabbet and dado joint is the classic method of joining two melamine boards.
Firstly, specify the spot of your melamine joint. Your first panel has a groove cut, while the second one should fit into the groove at a correct angle.
Secondly, make a dado cut in your first panel’s location. Cut just a half-inch wide, the width of your melamine board. Note that the cut must fall within a third and a half thickness of the melamine board.
Thirdly, adjust the fence to make a rabbet cut on the edge of the second board. This should be a quarter-inch deep. Also, cut a half-inch wide rabbet tongue.
Lastly, dry fit the tongue to your dado cut. Apply glue along your dado cut if you are already satisfied with the fit.
Fit the rabbet tongue in the groove and wipe the excess glue using a wet cloth or rag. Then wrap masking tape around the pieces to keep the rabbet fitted while the wood glue dries.
There is also another easy method of attaching melamine pieces together. You only need panel nails, wood glue, and a hammer.
Apply the glue along the edge of your panel, including its sides and corners. Then connect them using panel nails using a hammer. If you do not have any panel nails hanging around your workspace, you may use pocket screws or tiny screws. It can also work perfectly!
Can Pocket Screws Provide Sufficient Strength for the Drawer Boxes?
Absolutely! Wood glue and pocket screws can hold your drawer boxes together. Using these screws is robust enough for melamine drawer boxes. In fact, our woodworkers use them to attach the drawers, and they work satisfactorily.
These pocket screws make drawers more sturdy and durable. They also only require a few clamps, which may reduce your overall woodworking cost.
In addition, you may use edge banding to conceal the pocket screw heads from showing outside to make your drawer boxes look more elegant and professional. One tip here is to buy one the same color as your melamine drawer box.
Can Melamine Board Resist Water and Moisture Effectively?
Yes, a melamine board is water-resistant, but only on the outside. If the water flows inside the board, it will warp fast. Thus, choosing a suitable sealer, like Danish oil, linseed oil, or polyurethane, is crucial to prevent the water from entering.
You can utilize melamine boards in your kitchen, bathroom, and anywhere with a moist environment, but only after waterproofing them.
Additionally, you can use them outdoors. But only after sealing it with a top-rated sealer to shield the melamine panels from UV light, moisture, and other outside elements.
The main advantage of using melamine for your drawer is its durable finish and reasonably low cost, which is perfect for beginner woodworkers. In just 12 simple steps, you can make melamine drawer boxes successfully.
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