This is sort of related to my question regarding dovetail chipout...
I'm in the planning stages of making lots of drawer boxes for a new kitchen, 2 bathroom vanities and a couple of dressers. Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree with birch (sorry for the lame pun!). I like it because it comes in 1/2" sheets, it's economical to buy and well veneered.
I'm trying to stay away from 3/4" thick stock, because it's more expensive and just seems a bit overkill. Is there a cost effective solid wood or other alternative that comes in 1/2" stock? What's the best material (thickness and type) for the drawer bottoms? I was thinking 1/4" melamine for a nice smooth bottom. I can get it with either mdf or partical board substrate.
We have a plywood supplier that sells prefinished Baltic/Finnish/Russion birch drawer sides in 1/2" x 3, 4, 5 & 7" depths. This stuff is great for making good looking cabinet drawers. I use a lock mitre joint but a dovetail joint is possible.
I can also buy 1/4" prefinished Baltic/Finnish/Russion plywood. Also makes for a great looking cabinet drawers.
Birch is fine but I wouldn't dovetail it because of the very problem you have encountered. I too would either use a lock joint, and in one of my last projects I used a Kreg jig and used pocket holes to put together the drawers, I was pleased with the result and will probably use it again, but probably not in something that would get heavy use like in a kitchen.
Any of the vener plys in 1/4" make very nice drawer bottoms. A question you may ask your wife first is if she plans to line all of the drawers, mine always does so 1/4 luhan does fine as it is never seen. I'd have to agree that finishing the drawer with a melamine bottom would have to be a major PIA to finish!
Depending upon what is available to you many woods come to mind for drawers. I am lucky that there are several hardwood mills locally that I can order pretty much what I want and have used 1/2" white oak, made very nice dovetail drawers, and popular also easy to work with and light for larger drawers.
Buy your material from a 'Hardwood" dealer, instead of the big box stores and "Regular" lumber yards. You WILL get better quality at lower prices. The hardwood dealer I have dealt with has the 1/2" Baltic Birch plywood, like the previous mentioned drawer widths.
They also have the same thing in solid Poplar. Poplar is an easy wood to dovetail and about the same price as White Pine. Of course, wood prices vary, depending your location.
Note: the first two pictures, top to bottom, show the sample woods I bought to match: mahogany, walnut, oak, the bottom is the side of the table. The remaining 3 pictures are of the wood in question...