I am planning to build new drawers for some stick-built kitchen cabinets. I
would like to use full extension, soft close, undermount slides, but havin
g no experience with drawer slides, I don't know if it's practical.
The following link shows the view through one of the drawer openings. As yo
u can see, there is currently a 1" wide runner that the edges of the existi
ng drawers simply ride on. The picture shows the right hand runner for the
drawer that was removed and the left hand runner for the next drawer over,
which is pulled out about 1/2 way. (The yellow vinyl tape on was an attempt
to make the runner a little more slippery.)
I should note that 2 of the 5 drawers have runners that are only ~3/4" - 11
/16" wide, not the full 1" shown in the picture.
The cabinets are ~24" deep, from the back of the face frame to the back wal
l. The back wall of the cabinets is actually the plaster wall of the house,
although there is a cleat that the runners are attached to.
I would like the drawers to be as deep as possible. I've seen some 22" slid
es, which means the drawer boxes have to be 22" long, right?
The drawers will be made from either 1/2" Baltic Birch plywood or 1/2" popl
ar. (opinions welcome, as I'm new at this)
Are there undermount drawer slides that will sit on the existing runners or
do the runners have to be removed or can they be left in place and the sli
des installed some other way?
If undermounts are impractical in this situation, what are my other choices
Thanks for your (gentle) guidance.
Undermounts are nice but can be quite pricey and there is not much
wiggle room as far as length is concerned. I never use them but
Swingman uses them quite often.
That said if you can tolerate seeing the slide I can recommend the
standard type side mount full extension soft close.
A brand that I have been using lately are G-Slide, I understand tthat
they are manufactured by KV. These "soft" close slides tend to be less
expensive that standard slides of the same style.
Like Leon, I have never used undermount slides so can offer no advice
about them. However, I have a couple of comments...
1. 24" slides are readily available. KV is a good brand.
2. If for any reason you can't use undermount slides, it looks as if it
would be simple to use side mounts. They need a place in the box to attach
them but it shouldn't be to hard to do so using the existing drawer
slides. They need 1/2" on each side +- 1/16 .
I always make my face frames so there is 1/2" (or more) space between the
FF edge and cabinet side; I pack out the side to that I have a surface
flush with the FF edge on which to mount the slide..
The outside width of the drawers must be 1" less than the face frame
opening but I sometimes make it 1/8" or so less to accomodate any
irregularities that might have crept in during my sometimes less than
precise construction :) I just shim out the slides on the drawer as
needed. If your case is less than square, you could do the same thing.
3. Between the Baltic birch ply and poplar, I would use the lumber. If
you prefer to use ply, plain birch ply would be cheaper than Baltic and
has the advantage of coming in standard 48" x 96" sheets.
Do you seriously make your drawers as much as 1/8" too narrow?
I shoot for dead on but some times the fit is too tight and I end up
shaving the side of the drawer 1/32" or so.
BUT if too loose is not as much of an issue as too tight I may start
shooting for 1/16" under. ;~)
When you and/or I make the cabinets, I use the recommended width.
But, I most often purposely err on the narrow side when retrofitting
existing cabinets, especially the built in variety with plywood face
frames that are notoriously different in width dimension from top to
bottom of the drawer opening.
If there is any variation in the same rough opening noted when measuring
the cabinets, and when using normal duty drawer slides (under the heavy
duty class) which require the drawer width to be 1" less than the
cabinet rough opening, I err on the narrow side by at least a 1/16".
IOW, in those instances I may make the drawer 1 1/16" to 1 1/8" narrower
than the opening, instead of 1".
Soooo much easier to shim a drawer side onsite, than to cut one down
that is too wide for the opening, especially in this
"plastic/polypropolyne shim" age. ;)
cabinet side of the slides and the drawer side part of the slide, and
then tweak the drawer fronts to just kiss the slides. It can be touchy
tight if the slides are not absolutely as wide in the back as the front.
I think I will shoot for 1-1/16" under next time. It seems the more
precise my fit the more touchy the fit becomes.
Except in really bad openings, I find 1/16" under works better than
1/8", because the manufacturer usually states a 1/16" tolerance in their
specs, so many times you don't even need to shim if you're only 1/16"
Still, and unless you or I made the cabinet boxes, I'm going to
purposely err on the narrower side for drawer width every time.
On Monday, December 29, 2014 4:21:19 PM UTC-5, dadiOH wrote:
These are stick built cabinets with no "cabinet side", except at the very e
nds. For example, picture 4 doors that open into one large space with a cab
inet side only at the 2 ends. There is nothing to mount slides to, unless I
install something, which of course I could do.
I guess I'll have to go look at some actual slides at the borg just to get
an idea of what would be required. I probably won't but then there, but it'
ll give me an idea of my options.
Yeah. If I am going to use slides; if not, 1/32 - 1/16.
It is a PITA to fix a too tight drawer, easy to fix a too loose one.
Especially if one has a drum sander to make shims of any and precise
thicknesses as long as they are not wafer thin, ergo the 1/8 :)
I couldn't tell from the photo but was thinking that the existing wood
slides might serve. If not, there is plenty of room to add something for
attachment of the cabinet member of the slides.
For side mount slides, you need an area within the cabinet to which the
drawer member of the slide can be attached.
The face of the attachment needs to be flush with the FF edge. It can be
the cabinet side or it can be something separate from the side. If
separate, it needs to be thick enough to accomodate the little screws used
to attach the slide; 1/2" or greater would work. It also needs to be high
enough for the screws...3/4" or more generally.
It can be attached in any manner you choose...horizontally or vertically.
I sometimes make side by side pullouts in a space that has no center
partition; to attach the inboard slides, I just screw a piece of wood to
the cabinet bottom between the pullouts.
That's for "home built" cabinets/drawers. Commercially, they often use a
system of fore & aft steel or plastic clips that hold something to which
the slide is attached. I don't use them so don't know much about them but
here is one type. Youtube would be informative too, about everything.
On Tuesday, December 30, 2014 12:17:07 PM UTC-5, Larry Blanchard wrote:
Thanks for the suggestion, but after 35 years of wood-on-wood drawers, with no soft close and no full extension, SWMBO and I are ready for an upgrade. Some of the runners are so badly worn and grooved that they are beyond sanding.
Since replacing all of the runners would be required, I'd just as soon add a piece of stock on top of what is already there and attach my slides to that.
From the linked photo, I see no reason why you can't use a full
extension, undermount drawer slide.
I've used both Hettich and KV MUV's extensively, and either should work
from what can be seen in your photo.
Although I like them very much, I have found Hettich to be more fussy in
dimensioning the drawer, as well as in installation; so have basically
switched over to the KV MUV softclose undermounts for large projects.
You will want to download, and study carefully, the installation guides
from the retailer or manufacturer, with regard to width and drawer
height, as well as the required space between the bottom edge of the
drawer side, and the bottom side of the drawer bottom.
Obviously, you will lose some drawer height versus side mount drawers.
First and foremost is to understand clearly that drawers must be built
to fairly exacting specs for this type of drawer slide, so if you are
planning on using them, do NOT to fail to purchase your drawer slides
FIRST, BEFORE you fabricate the drawers.
Having built literally hundreds of drawers for undermount slides, I have
devised a spreadsheet for dimensioning drawer parts based on the
installation requirements for the KV MUV's that allows me to input
cabinet rough opening (width and height) material thickness, and slide
length, and it will spit out the appropriate dimensions for drawer
sides, backs, fronts, and bottoms.
I usually use half blind dovetail drawer fronts, so the calculator takes
that into account, but that can be easily changed.
Can easily email a copy to anyone who would find it useful.
NOTE: Don't let the lack of cabinet "sides" in the drawer opening hold
you back, I can show you a simple way around that which also insures a
square installation in non-square, existing cabinets.
On Tuesday, December 30, 2014 12:28:45 PM UTC-5, Swingman wrote:
slides installed some other way?
As I think about what we have in the drawers now, I don't know that I want
to lose any height. The idea of undermount slides was more for appearance,
but in the end if I'm going to lose height and have to be extremely exactin
g in the construction, I may forgo the use of undermounts. The rest of the
kitchen is, in general, not really worthy of the use of undermounts. Should
I some day decide to gut the entire room, that's when I can think about ge
I'd love to hear your suggestions on converting my existing runners into wh
atever it takes to use slides, and most probably side mounts.
Here's the link to the picture once again. I can provide any other pictures
that you might find helpful. Thanks!
Yep, although it can be done to good effect, installing "Tier 1"
drawers, in "Tier 3" or "Tier 4" cabinets, is generally not worth the
time and expense.
~ If you're going with modern, side mounted, ball bearing drawer slides,
simply purchase the "back mounting brackets" made for the particular slide.
If the back of the built-in cabinet is the actual wall of the room, and
covered with drywall or other soft wall covering, you will want to
simply attach a wood/plywood strip along the back (screwed to stud) to
screw the bacl brackets to.
With many drawer slides you can also purchase face frame brackets.
If the existing FF is plywood, you may want to consider the use of a
these FF brackets.
While most modern drawer slides have a single hole positioned to screw
the front of the slide to the face frame, you may find that with older
plywood face frames, the installation will be more secure using the two
screw holes available on the FF brackets.
~ An alternate method that, while it takes a tiny bit of shop time in
making these, the time spent is made up tenfold when installing new
drawers in old face frame cabinets, particularly in built-in cabinets
and when the counter top is still on:
No need to get fancy, use scraps and finish nails/staple - just make
sure the three sided contraption is square by using 45 degree angle
brackets made with 1/4" plywood.
The sides can be made a bit shorter than the cabinet depth and shimmed
to the back wall if necessary, or made short enough to attach to a
plywood board nailed to the studs on a drywall wall.
Key is the back board dimension.
If you make it the EXACT width of your _cabinet drawer opening_ , and
make sure both sides are perpendicular by using the simple corner
brackets, it is pretty much guaranteed to give you a perfect
installation without a lot of hassle.
Basically, if the drawer works smoothly during a test mount in the shop,
they will work smoothly after installation onsite.
On Tuesday, December 30, 2014 3:12:00 PM UTC-5, Swingman wrote:
ce, but in the end if I'm going to lose height and have to be extremely exa
cting in the construction, I may forgo the use of undermounts. The rest of
the kitchen is, in general, not really worthy of the use of undermounts. Sh
ould I some day decide to gut the entire room, that's when I can think abou
t getting fancy.
The back wall is the room wall, but it's 3/8" plaster over 3/8" rock lath.
It basically looks like this and is a pain to anchor stuff to.
There is already a cleat across the back wall but I'll have to see if it is
positioned correctly for use with rear brackets, although I really like th
e 3 sided mounting system you've suggested.
Existing FF is pine, I believe. In any case, it's not plywood. The house wa
s built in 1956.
This I like! Easy enough to build in the shop and will probably sit nicely
atop the existing structure inside the cabinets. It sounds especially nice
for the smaller drawers where space is extremely limited. The single piece
installation has some serious merit.
Bench testing the drawer and slides on their actual mounts...who would have
Be on the lookout for my hinge questions. :-)
Actually, I transport the drawers and mounts as one unit
Will do. I deal with so many types of hinges for different spec'ed
cabinets that I keep a mocked up cabinet side around to make sure they
live up to their billing and so I can drill the cup holes where they
work the best:
On Tuesday, December 30, 2014 5:21:42 PM UTC-5, Swingman wrote:
I'm not sure what you mean by that. I was merely mentioning that I never wo
uld have thought of building a frame with slides and making sure everything
fit before installing them in the cabinet.
BTW...I threw together a sample frame and drawer last night using an old ch
eap drawer slide that I had lying around. I used the Kreg Pocket Hole jig t
hat the kids bought me for Christmas to build the slide frame. The pocket h
ole construction made the frame square so there was no need for the corner
braces. I only have 4 frames to build, so I may just pocket hole them all i
nstead of cutting braces, tacking them on, etc. I'll ensure they are perfec
tly square when I attach them to the existing cabinet framework.
I discovered that the cabinet on the far left of the counter butts up again
st a tall cabinet and has a side wall that is flush with the face frame. Th
e right side is "open" like the rest of the cabinets, but the left side has
a wall, so I can't use the three sided frame for that cabinet. Obviously t
he left hand slide will have to be mounted to that side panel and I'll need
to make a support to hold the right hand slide. No biggy, just won't be a
bench-built frame like the other 4. Of course, it happens to be one of the
narrower cabinets, so the one that will required the most in-cabinet work i
s also the most cramped.
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