Many types of joints are used in the construction of drawers. The joints range from the traditional dovetail to the nailed butt. The strongest joint is the one that is in-between the front and the sides. This is where the drawer takes the most abuse. The joint should look good and go with the design of the cabinet since this is the joint that everyone sees.
The half-blind dovetail joint has been used for over two hundred years and is still the best joint available for strength when properly completed. Originally the dovetail joint was cut by hand and was seen on all price ranges of furniture. Today, the half-blind dovetail joint is basically seen on high-end and custom-made drawers. This type of joint is not seen on the outside of the drawer. When looking to the inside the dovetail joint may be seen. A half-blind dovetail joint may be used on any of the drawer types (lipped, flush and overlay).
The straight dovetail joint that shows to the outside is not universally used in high end furniture. When used, a false front it put on the drawer to cover the dovetail unless the dovetail design is part of the desired look.
The sliding dovetail is used only on an overlay drawer. It is easy to make once the proper setup has been completed. This dovetail slot is visible from the top edge of the drawer front and can distract from the look of the cabinet once it is completed. That is why the overlay drawer front is used.
The box joint is made by using either a router or table saw. It does not have the interlocking capabilities of the dovetail. The box joint yields a strong hold due to the many gluing surfaces it provides.
A plain rabbet or dado joint connects the drawer together with an ease in construction. The joints do not interlock. There is no good gluing surface so the drawer will not last the test of time. The hybrid dado-and-rabbet joint does provide the locking of the pieces together. It is easy to make but it exposes the end-grain on the drawer front. This means a false front will need to be added unless it is part of the cabinet design.
Lock joints are strong and simple. They are especially used when dealing with routed drawer locks. A special router bit is used to produce both parts. This type of locked joint works well on all three drawer types (lipped, flush and overlay).
When deciding on what type of drawer construction to use it is best to consider the visual appearance after the project is complete. Each jointing procedure provides a different look to the completed drawer. The particular look could add character and dimension to any woodworking project.