I will be making a making a cutting table for my wife, a quilter. It will
have a 37"x56" top, 35" off the floor. It will be on wheels and have drawers
below for storage. In shop terms, it's a special-purpose mobile workbench.
It will live most of it's life in the middle of the room (walking space on
Here's my question:
Since 37" (less some overhang) is pretty deep, I plan on having drawers on
both sides. I am considering what I call, for lack of a better term,
pushmi-pullyu (after the Dr Doolittle creature,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pushmi-pullyu#Pushmi-pullyu ) drawers. That is,
through drawers with handles and faces on both ends.
The upside is that it is very space-efficient and allows you to have
essentially 150% extension of the drawer. The downside is that the drawer
would be heavier, and it would not have a positive stop to make it look
"right" when closed, unless done so with an extra degree of care.
Has anybody implemented a similar design, and how did the downsides work out
For me, full-extension drawer sides are not an option. Unless it's a kitchen
I prefer wood on wood drawer guides.
Perhaps I should sacrifice the capacity and go for regular drawers on each
Please offer me perspective and help me decide.
IF (big word with no picture to work from) I'm visualizing this correctly, it
seems like you could mount a roller or bullet-catch like thingy in the middle of
the cabinet (as in front-to back, near side of drawer), that lightly detents
when lined up with a hole or dado in the middle of the drawer side..
Push drawer back in from either side until you feel the roller engage..
Steve, you've obviously thought this through, and you've definitely
identified the issues.
I built such a thing for my store room - it's a combination worktable and
storage cabinet, 42" x 84" and 36" high, with a drawer stack at each end and
a desk-like knee well on one side for my wife to sit at on a stool when
she's working on a crafts project or something like that. It lives more or
less in the middle of the store room and it's on lockable casters so that I
can move it around if necessary. My inspiration for using pull-through
drawers on this project, by the way, was a kitchen worktable that I saw in
the Gamble house in Pasadena, a marvelous Greene and Greene edifice.
The drawers are full-length and pull-through from each side. Each drawer
stack is 24" wide and has three drawers, about 15", 10", and 5" high.
They're made of 1/2" plywood, with 3/4" plywood faces on each end, notched
for the runners. Because of their size, we used 1/2" plywood for the bottoms
too. The runners are attached to the inside faces of the carcass, and are
3/4" thick and about 1 1/2" high. On each side of the drawer is a strip of
purpleheart about the same cross-section that rides on the runner, with a
strip of UHMW on the bottom and the side, giving low friction for the
sliding weight of the drawer as well as side-to-side friction. The drawers
are a little heavy, it's true, especially when they're loaded, but they
slide reasonably well on the UHMW and don't cause us any trouble. I couldn't
think of any way to give them a positive stop when the faces are flush so,
yeah, they take a little care when you close them. My wife is kind of
devil-may-care about details like that, so I'm a little embarrassed to say
that when I have some reason to be in the store room I find myself going
around and carefully closing them flush, one after another. Another poster
suggests rare earth magnets, but the drawers are so heavy that a
sufficiently-strong magnet would pin you to the cabinet by your belt buckle.
One thing to consider is that when the drawer is pulled well out so that the
center of gravity is outside the cabinet it will tip down unless there's a
stop on the side of the drawer underneath the runner. At each end I have
about a six-inch long piece that catches the back of the drawer to keep it
from tipping down when this happens.
The top, by the way, is a separate piece, 3/4" MDF with laminate on top,
edged with about 3/4" by 1" wood trim. It just sits on top of the cabinet
assembly with small cleats, hidden by the lower edge of the trim, to keep it
centered on the cabinet. No need for fasteners because of its weight.
So do it. It's an interesting design challenge and I believe you'll be happy
with it if you go for it. Email me off-line and I can share a picture or
Although I don't know if they come in the length you require, take a
look at the Accuride "Two Way Travel" drawer slides such as the model
I have built a couple "endless drawer" project and seen a couple more.
I never did come up with an adequate solution to the drawers lining up well.
But the people who used them did learn to adapt and soon were carefully
closing the drawers even with the cabinet sides.
I built one project with wooden rollers. The rollers were simply large
hardwood dowels with some metal rods inserted into the ends. I waxed
everything up and it worked well for a long time. Until the wood started to
wear around the metal rods. Then it got kind of sticky.
If I was going to do anything like this again I would either go to some kind
of slick plastic under the drawer runners of put some kind of roller or
caster under the drawer bottom.
I have seen a small sphere caster that is used to move sheet goods. It
installs with four screws. I can't recall where I have seen it but a place
that sells lotss of options for a table saw extension tables should have
something like this.
Quilters use lots of long plastic cutting guides. These may or may not fit
into the long drawers. I would keep a few inches free under the bench top
to store these long items.
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