How To Make Butterfly Drawers Workshop Projects

Some of the peskier items to keep track of in a workshop (or any hobby area) are small parts and fasteners. Especially if you need to have a wide assortment on hand at all times. This project is one of the fancier ways of dealing with that storage problem. In fact, it can be used as a jewelry box just as easily.

It features butterfly drawers that swing out 90 degrees to give you full access to the contents and while mine is made from nicer hardwoods, you can make this from any type of wood. Including softwood, like pine.

I’m using black walnut and maple for mine. The walnut will be used to make the case, while the maple is for the drawers. I also used some 1/4″ thick plywood for the back of the case and drawer bottoms. 1/8″ thick plywood is better, if you can get it, because it takes up less small and is just as strong in this application.

I wanted each drawer to have removable dividers – 3 in each – and precut the dadoes in the fronts and backs using a 1/8″ kerf blade on my table saw. The bottom of each part is rabbeted as well for the bottom panel.

I wanted to make everything from wood, as much as possible. The handles to open each drawer are just half moon cutouts on the end and I did that on my drill pressĀ  with a simple fixture setup.

The 3/4″ forstner bit cuts the finger holes on each end of two drawer fronts. The fence and stop blocks keep everything in line.

After a lot of cutting (I’m making 18 drawers), here are all of the hardwood parts ready for assembly.

I’m gluing one joint at a time without clamps and letting that dry before gluing the next joint. These parts are small and fit together well so no need to try to clamp them.

With the four sides glued I could glue in the bottom panel and let that dry.

Next I drilled the pivot hole in the front edge of each drawer. You can see a drawer set here, two identical but opposite. The corner also needs to be rounded over to allow the drawer to swing.

I cut out the parts for the case and did a test fit.

Checking the fit as I go is something I’ve come to rely on. It really helps to avoid costly mistakes and doesn’t take much time.

The joint between the top and side of the case is a bit tricky. It has a tongue and groove built into the standard rabbet to lock the parts in one direction. Not strictly needed, but it’s handy because you only need to clamp the box in one direction. The build video at the bottom of the page shows this in more detail.

I clamped two of the finished doors down on the top (or bottom) panel to guide the drill to make the pivot holes in the panels. In my opinion it’s the only way to get accurate results.

Another dry fit before assembling the case.

These relief grooves give a bit more finger clearance to open the drawers. I ended up doing them by hand because I forgot to do it before I glued the box together. It would have been much easier and more accurate to do it on my spindle sander with a jig to hold the stock at the right angle.

And here they are finished. I made three for more flexibility in mounting them, you can stack them vertically or side by side horizontally. And since it doesn’t take that much longer to make several at a time, you can make some to give away.

I added screws to hold the dowels in, but you can also glue the dowels if you want a cleaner appearance.

I made a detailed video showing the build from start to final finish.