drawer slide adjustment

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I'm installing drawers using Accuride 4034 slides, a type where part of the rail rides on top of, rather than nesting within, the rail that is secured to the case. I carefully laid out for the slides and installed them with the intent to get the drawers 1/4" recessed into the case. But each drawer came out a little different. They aren't recessed by the same amount, and one drawer front was twisted. (The top left is recessed a 1/8 and the bottom left recessed 1/4, or something like that.)
I figured it should be easy enough to make some small adjustments to get the drawers to line up a little better. So for the drawer whose front wasn't lined up I changed the angle of its slide mounting to the case. But it seems that when I make this sort of change, I get unpredictable results. This change cause the drawer to twist in its opening so that the drawer front wouldn't even fit. The left side was too far forward so I slid its side back...but this had no effect at all.
Does anybody have any tips on how to adjust drawer slides?
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On Wed, 25 Nov 2009 06:18:22 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@cam.cornell.edu"

...looks to me like you're into a bunch of PITA work, pal. If your cabinet *and* drawers are built square and true, then it's a simple matter of a jig or two and you are in business. If you're out of square, and it seems that indeed you are, you are in for a bunch of fussing and fudging. Strip everything down to the carcass and start there...
cg
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I don't understand your advice. What does it mean to "strip everything down to the carcass and start there?" I mean, there's only the drawers and the carcasse. How square do things need to be and what sort of fixes might I entertain if I determine that something isn't square enough?
(The only idea I had so far was to plane the drawer front corner down so that the drawer sits evenly in the case. This would make the drawer front thickness non-uniform.)
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snipped-for-privacy@cam.cornell.edu wrote:

Basic premise: Cabinet "components" (generally speaking the casework, the drawers and the doors) are all made up of individual "parts".
Perfectly square is the goal for all these components, and often "close enough" will work if you can shim "components" into square during final assembly of the cabinet. However, once you start shimming you're wasting time that could better be spent doing something else, and there is NEVER a guarantee of satisfactory results.
'Measuring diagonals' will tell you whether the four sides of a "component" (drawer, door, drawer front, or the casework) are square to each other; using an 'accurate square' of any kind will also tell you if the corners are square (keep in mind that without proper preparation, the stock between square corners could still be twisted, bent, warped, or vary in thickness, and still cause problems).
The first step in solving your problem is to answer the questions:
Did you pay particular attention to the elements of "square" when you built both your cabinet and drawers - IOW, ALL individual component "parts" are indeed the specified project thickness, width, and length?
Did you use properly milled, straight, stock, of the equal thickness, for each part?
Did you "batch cut" these parts before assembly? (more below)
Did you take steps during component assembly and glue-up to insure a square results? (measuring diagonals, proper clamping techniques to preclude warping by too much pressure, etc?)
The pursuit of "square" is the holy grail of cabinet making ... if you did none of the above, you may well need to start over again as you can spend hours attempting to shim the drawer slides and non-square components, in all planes, and still not have a satisfactory end result.
One simple method/practice which will take you a long way to insuring that your basic components (drawers, doors, casework) end up square is to "batch cut" ALL "parts" of like dimension for these components.
"Batch cutting" parts is the practice of using the EXACT SAME machine setup to cut ALL like project parts BEFORE changing machine settings (move the table saw fence, move the planer table, etc).
AAMOF, this practice can't be stressed enough and will take you a long way toward alleviating the problem you are currently experiencing.
Examples of this:
Cut ALL your "parts" (drawer sides, rails and stiles, casework sides, etc.) of like WIDTH in the ENTIRE project, BEFORE you move your table saw fence from that WIDTH setting.
Cut ALL your "parts" of like LENGTH in the ENTIRE project, BEFORE you move your table saw fence from that LENGTH setting
Thickness, to project specs, ALL stock with the SAME final setting on your planer, BEFORE you change that setting.
Etc, ad infinitum ...
This one simple practice (which does require some organization, planning and thought) will insure that ALL project components parts, that have identical dimensions, in thickness, width, and length, are indeed identical and have not been subjected to errors introduced when moving fences, machine tables/settings, etc..
(There are other things, like when using face frame cabinets, build your face frames first, taking the time and necessary steps to insure they are square, then assemble your cabinet sides on top of the already "known square" face frames).
Paying particular attention to "square" with steps like the above when building the three basic components of a "cabinet" (the casework, the drawers and the doors) will save countless hours of trying to fit non-square components during final assembly.
Multiply that by the number of cabinets in the average shop built kitchen and the importance of pursuing the holy grail of "square" becomes paramount.
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snipped-for-privacy@cam.cornell.edu wrote:

Basic premise: Cabinet "components" (generally speaking the casework, the drawers and the doors) are all made up of individual "parts".
Perfectly square is the goal for all these components, and often "close enough" will work if you can shim "components" into square during final assembly of the cabinet. However, once you start shimming you're wasting time that could better be spent doing something else, and there is NEVER a guarantee of satisfactory results.
'Measuring diagonals' will tell you whether the four sides of a "component" (drawer, door, drawer front, or the casework) are square to each other; using an 'accurate square' of any kind will also tell you if the corners are square (keep in mind that without proper preparation, the stock between square corners could still be twisted, bent, warped, or vary in thickness, and still cause problems).
The first step in solving your problem is to answer the questions:
Did you pay particular attention to the elements of "square" when you built both your cabinet and drawers - IOW, ALL individual component "parts" are indeed the specified project thickness, width, and length?
Did you use properly milled, straight, stock, of the equal thickness, for each part?
Did you "batch cut" these parts before assembly? (more below)
Did you take steps during component assembly and glue-up to insure a square results? (measuring diagonals, proper clamping techniques to preclude warping by too much pressure, etc?)
The pursuit of "square" is the holy grail of cabinet making ... if you did none of the above, you may well need to start over again as you can spend hours attempting to shim the drawer slides and non-square components, in all planes, and still not have a satisfactory end result.
One simple method/practice which will take you a long way to insuring that your basic components (drawers, doors, casework) end up square is to "batch cut" ALL "parts" of like dimension for these components.
"Batch cutting" parts is the practice of using the EXACT SAME machine setup to cut ALL like project parts BEFORE changing machine settings (move the table saw fence, move the planer table, etc).
AAMOF, this practice can't be stressed enough and will take you a long way toward alleviating the problem you are currently experiencing.
Examples of this:
Cut ALL your "parts" (drawer sides, rails and stiles, casework sides, etc.) of like WIDTH in the ENTIRE project, BEFORE you move your table saw fence from that WIDTH setting.
Cut ALL your "parts" of like LENGTH in the ENTIRE project, BEFORE you move your table saw fence from that LENGTH setting
Thickness, to project specs, ALL stock with the SAME final setting on your planer, BEFORE you change that setting.
Etc, ad infinitum ...
This one simple practice (which does require some organization, planning and thought) will insure that ALL project components parts, that have identical dimensions, in thickness, width, and length, are indeed identical and have not been subjected to errors introduced when moving fences, machine tables/settings, etc..
(There are other things, like when using face frame cabinets, build your face frames first, taking the time and necessary steps to insure they are square, then assemble your cabinet sides on top of the already "known square" face frames).
Paying particular attention to "square" with steps like the above when building the three basic components of a "cabinet" (the casework, the drawers and the doors) will save countless hours of trying to fit non-square components during final assembly.
Multiply that by the number of cabinets in the average shop built kitchen and the importance of pursuing the holy grail of "square" becomes paramount.
--
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Last update: 10/22/08
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snipped-for-privacy@cam.cornell.edu wrote:
> and the carcasse. How square do things need to be and what sort of > fixes might I entertain if I determine that something isn't square > enough?
Basic premise: Cabinet "components" (generally speaking the casework, the drawers and the doors) are all made up of individual "parts".
Perfectly square is the goal for all these components, and often "close enough" will work if you can shim "components" into square during final assembly of the cabinet. However, once you start shimming you're wasting time that could better be spent doing something else, and there is NEVER a guarantee of satisfactory results.
'Measuring diagonals' will tell you whether the four sides of a "component" (drawer, door, drawer front, or the casework) are square to each other; using an 'accurate square' of any kind will also tell you if the corners are square (keep in mind that without proper preparation, the stock between square corners could still be twisted, bent, warped, or vary in thickness, and still cause problems).
The first step in solving your problem is to answer the questions:
Did you pay particular attention to the elements of "square" when you built both your cabinet and drawers - IOW, ALL individual component "parts" are indeed the specified project thickness, width, and length?
Did you use properly milled, straight, stock, of the equal thickness, for each part?
Did you "batch cut" these parts before assembly? (more below)
Did you take steps during component assembly and glue-up to insure a square results? (measuring diagonals, proper clamping techniques to preclude warping by too much pressure, etc?)
The pursuit of "square" is the holy grail of cabinet making ... if you did none of the above, you may well need to start over again as you can spend hours attempting to shim the drawer slides and non-square components, in all planes, and still not have a satisfactory end result.
One simple method/practice which will take you a long way to insuring that your basic components (drawers, doors, casework) end up square is to "batch cut" ALL "parts" of like dimension for these components.
"Batch cutting" parts is the practice of using the EXACT SAME machine setup to cut ALL like project parts BEFORE changing machine settings (move the table saw fence, move the planer table, etc).
AAMOF, this practice can't be stressed enough and will take you a long way toward alleviating the problem you are currently experiencing.
Examples of this:
Cut ALL your "parts" (drawer sides, rails and stiles, casework sides, etc.) of like WIDTH in the ENTIRE project, BEFORE you move your table saw fence from that WIDTH setting.
Cut ALL your "parts" of like LENGTH in the ENTIRE project, BEFORE you move your table saw fence from that LENGTH setting
Thickness, to project specs, ALL stock with the SAME final setting on your planer, BEFORE you change that setting.
Etc, ad infinitum ...
This one simple practice (which does require some organization, planning and thought) will insure that ALL project components parts, that have identical dimensions, in thickness, width, and length, are indeed identical and have not been subjected to errors introduced when moving fences, machine tables/settings, etc..
(There are other things, like when using face frame cabinets, build your face frames first, taking the time and necessary steps to insure they are square, then assemble your cabinet sides on top of the already "known square" face frames).
Paying particular attention to "square" with steps like the above when building the three basic components of a "cabinet" (the casework, the drawers and the doors) will save countless hours of trying to fit non-square components during final assembly.
Multiply that by the number of cabinets in the average shop built kitchen and the importance of pursuing the holy grail of "square" becomes paramount.
--
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Last update: 10/22/08
  Click to see the full signature.
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There is no such thing. There is always a tolerance. It's not always clear to me what the tolerance ought to be.

Of course "close enough" will work. You going to tell me you cut accurate to the nanometer? And your corners are square to a millionth of a degree? I doubt it. There's *always* a tolerance, which is to say, there's some measure of "close enough".

Well, if the alternative is to start over it's hard to see how shimming is "wasting time". If I have to spend, I dunno, 500-1000 hours making the project again vs. 1 hour shimming? I suppose the second time it wouldn't take so long, since many of those hours were learning hours, but I'd learn less the second time around, and it wouldn't be interesting to make exactly the same project again.

Of course I can measure diagonals, though this won't find twist. I think the case is reasonably close. I don't recall how square the drawers are. It's been a couple years since I finished them. I'm planning to take a look tonight. But how close is close enough?

Of course I made my best effort to make all the parts square. But wood isn't plastic. Parts may not have stayed as straight and square as I made them. They may have warped a bit when being planed after jointing, or while waiting to be joined together.

Of course I made my best effort to do this.

Of course I tried to keep everything square during glue up, though some of the glue ups were a little panicked...
When I glued panels together I used a setup I read about in this very group involving cauls clamped over the panels to keep them flat. All the other joints in the piece are dovetails.

Well, starting over really isn't going to happen. I've been working on this project for about 8 years. (I did other things too...) It's got $750 of wood in it, or thereabouts. I'm going to get the best end result I can get with what I have and move on to a new project.

Note that I do not have a table saw. I did attempt to cut some parts together by stacking them (e.g. matching parts from a given drawer) so ensure that they would come out identical. (Though this doesn't guarantee square.)

I thicknessed parts at the same time for each drawer, and for the case. Though really, if the parts had different thicknesses, the piece would still be square, as long as the parts were straight. It would have made the joinery more of a pain. In fact, the top of the case is 1/4" thicker than the sides. (That was intentional.)
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always clear to me what the tolerance ought to be. <snip>
Your analitis is showing.
$750 for materials?
Must be a small project.
Lew
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I'm not arguing. I agree, making things square is important. All along I've made making things square a goal. For the most part, I did the things you listed. There was nothing on your list that made me think, "If only I'd done that my project would be better." But even if there was...that part of my project is done. It's history.
If an experienced cabinet maker would burn my project and start over....well, that really isn't useful information for me. If that's the case, then I will end up with a project that doesn't look like it was made by an experienced cabinet maker. That's OK, because I'm not an experienced cabinet maker. I consider this my first real furniture project. I want to know how to make the best of what I have. Being told "you're screwed" is not helpful. I want to look forward, not backward.
I tried to measure diagonals last night. Since nobody has yet told me what the tolerance is I don't know how well I ought to try to measure. I'll admit that I'm the type to analyze things a great deal. But this issue of tolerance is fundamental. How square does it need to be? If I don't know that, how do I know if the experienced cabinet maker would burn the project or not? I don't even know the right measurement instruments to use. Calipers? Tape measure? The experienced cabinet maker knows the appropriate tolerance and doesn't really think about it.
In any case, taking inside measurements on the cabinet back I estimated the difference in the diagonals at around 0.02" in 40". (I did this by using a bar gauge and inserting feelers at the end to measure the gap.) Seems to me I can hardly ask for better. However, an 8" square on the cabinet front drawer cavities shows deviations of about 0.015" from square. This might be because I cut the dividers a bit too long or the joint not quite deep enough. (The case is made from four panels, dovetailed together with dividers inserted by sliding dovetails.)
In the case of the drawers, I found the error in the diagonals to be nearly 1/8" in the worse case out of a diagonal length of 27". The other two drawers it was about 1/16" and the third was around 0.02". I estimated that a 1/8" error could twist the drawer front by about 1/16", so that would seem to explain part of my problem. I can think of two possible fixes: shim the drawer slides crooked or plane the drawer front crooked.
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snipped-for-privacy@cam.cornell.edu wrote: ...

I generally shoot for 1/64"; that'll normally w/ reasonable care get me at least 1/32" for cabinets, etc., of that size. OTOH, if you're making miniatures, that could be a terribly large error... :)
...

That's definitely far too much. I'd suggest simply rebuilding the two worst of the drawers as a far more satisfactory solution in the long run. To install them cockeyed will be a hack that you'll not be satisfied with for the long run imo...
--


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snipped-for-privacy@cam.cornell.edu wrote:

Which proves that your sudden interest in "square" has come after the fact, and after lack thereof has bitten you in the butt. :(
This is the way you learn ... and we've all done it.

As square as you can possibly get it!! :)
Forget "appropriate tolerance" and take whatever remedial action, _ during assembly_, that is necessary to make both diagonals READ THE SAME!
If your diagonals both read the same with a tape measure, or story stick, or a piece of string, and you've taken due care in using whatever device you used for measuring the diagonals, then it is most likely as square as it needs to be for a woodworking project.
And the ultimate test of that is whether the components fit together as intended.
If I don't know that, how do I know if the experienced

There is no "appropriate tolerance", because there in no finite reference.
1/16th may be fine for 48" cabinet as long as everything else is less, but if a component of that same cabient is out 1/16 in the opposite direction, then some remedial action may have to be taken to make the components fit together as intended.
See first above ...

That much error, because diagonals are obviously NOT the same when measured, would have been sufficient cause for me to take remedial action on the component during assembly.
(this can generally be corrected, DURING GLUEUP, by clamping the longer diagonal back into compliance with a clamp along that diagonal)
(... about the only place I would have accepted 1/8" would be in squaring the foundation for a house ... 1/4" and we would be considering some remedial carpentry.)
Once again, the goal is to make both diagonals READ THE SAME, forget about "appropriate tolerances".
Now, and as you've already found, after the fact remedial action can be difficult, if not impossible.
Without actually seeing your project, it is almost impossible to advise you on a course of action. If shimming does not work, try other methods like planning down the offending parts, within reason. If these types of remedial actions ruin the look, or function, or intended fit, of the project, than you obviously have to take more drastic measures, like redoing the offending parts causing the problem ... once again, consider it a learning experience.
Can you take the offending components apart? This can sometimes be accomplished depending upon the glue used, so that you re-glue back to square ... a heat gun or hair dryer on the joint often works, and, if you have to redo the component as a last resort, it is always worth a try.
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Treat squareness as an absolute. You will fail anyway but in trying for the absolute you will come as close as possible - by definition.
Treat the difference between the diagonals as an absolute. You will fail anyway but in trying for the absolute you will come as close as possible - by definition.
Remember the following:
Measuring Stuff Is Impossible
A recent thread on using tape measures in the shop got me to thinking about this.
I went on Starrett's website and found that the most that they will write up a Certificate of Accuracy for on a tape is +/- 1/32". They also say on that website that whatever tool you use to measure with should be capable of measuring to 1/10 of what your tolerance is. So, if their best tape is only capable of +/- 1/32", then my tolerances can't be any tighter than 5/16", which seems a tad generous to me for cabinet work.
I have some Starrett and Rabone-Chesterman metal rules that will measure to 1/64", which would allow me to have tolerances of a little heavier than 1/8". I guess I could use these rules for framing houses - but they still aren't accurate enough for building cabinets.
I have a Starrett dial caliper that will measure to 1/1000" - now that will let me have tolerances of about 1/100", which is heading in the right direction but when I think about it, a piece of newsprint is about 4/1000", or 1/250" and I know that my joints are tight enough, when they are cut properly, that I can't fit a piece of newspaper into them.
And yet, that can't be possible because the best measuring instrument that I have in my shop will only allow me to have tolerances of 1/100".
It makes you wonder why framing carpenters and masons even bother to own measuring devices at all and, it has been my suspicion for some time that many of them don't.
It is gratifying to me that I am capable of doing the impossible but it makes me a bit squeamish, if you follow me. A man needs to know where he stands in this world and how can you do that if you can't measure anything proper like?
When I had my first philosophy course in college we studied this old boy named Zeno the Eleatic and his paradoxes. Now, Zeno said that you can never get from one place to another because, first you have to cover half the distance from A to B, then you have to cover half of the remaining distance and then half of that remaining distance, and so on for ever and ever. So, there's no sense in trying to measure anything because it just ain't gonna work out.
Zeno may have been the first framing carpenter, although I am not entirely sure about that - nor anything else, it seems.
Regards,
Tom Watson http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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In dropped this bit of wisdom: <SNIP>

P D Q
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Tom Watson wrote:

    mahaloklos,     "soc"
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"Tom Watson" wrote:

Still remember from a surveying course that steel tape "stretch" had to be accounted for when measuring with one.
Long since forgot how to do it, just remember it could be a problem.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

Artillery rule for getting a round on target: "one mil of angle subtends an arc of one meter at one thousand meters".
A 105 howitzer shell has an effective kill radius of 50 meters from point of burst.
Making the difference between an "arc" and a "chord", in the above rule, a moot point. ;)
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Tom Watson wrote:

If you had a wall 25 feet long (length of tape measure) that had to be filled with cabinets, wouldn't 5/16" over 25 feet be tight enough?
--

-MIKE-

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-MIKE- wrote:

Different kettle of fish than "square" .. but in your example, that depends upon the width of the _available_ trim piece!! :)
IOW, your trim piece that hides the gap better be wider than 5/16" ...
<g>
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Swingman wrote:

I'm guessing one of the end walls will be out of plumb by double that, anyway. :-)
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-MIKE- wrote:

And you'd most likely be right!! :)
Now, try building cabinets for a kitchen, months before the house is even in existence!
There are more things that can complicate that endeavor than you can imagine, and it is something I have been doing on a routine basis.
Creative solutions also have a way of being another mother of invention.
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