Attaching Pulls to Shaker-Style Flat Drawer Fronts

A cabinetmaker gets advice on securely fastening drawer pulls to 1/4-inch plywood drawer front material. April 19, 2015

I'm making a kitchen and the client wants shaker flat panel. They want drawers in the bases with the same panels as used for the upper cabinets vs the solid front I usually build for this. I'm worried the 1/4" ply panels might pose an issue with durability on those big heavy base cabinet drawers if the pulls are mounted there. Am I just being paranoid?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor K:
Use a piece of 1/4 ply to fill the void between the back of the panel and the drawer.

From contributor X:
Use 3/8" MDF panel, then back cut it so it's flush with the back of the frame.

From contributor B:
1/2" MDF flushed up might be the best solution. Still gives you a 1/4" reveal for the front.

From contributor X:
I guess I assumed it is painted when I said use 3/8" MDF. If it is getting painted, I would go with the 3/8" MDF, it will look better, you will have 3/8 reveal on the front. If it's getting stained, I would use 1/2" MDF with veneer faces. As long as the panel is flush on the back, and your hardware screws go all the way through the drawer box, you will be fine either way.

From Contributor T:
I agree with Contributor K. That is assuming that your using a 1/4" panel that is centered in 3/4". Any pulling forces will be absorbed by the drawer box. Not the drawer front. I guess pushing force could add a little flex. Not even sure the panel filling up the void is necessary, but, I do it that way.

From Contributor J:
I have used these drawer fronts for a long time. I have found all the above to be true. The short coming to leaving the void is the customer. If the screws holding the pulls come loose, some customers will over tighten them. I have seen them go as far as drawing the pulls through the 1/4 MDF core panel even bowing it to the point it cracked. Some customers just have no common sense.

From contributor Z:
We only use reversed solid panels for our shakers - stronger and better looking.