Drawer slides are a simple, yet effective way to increase drawer storage capacity while providing added support. They can be mounted to the sides of a drawer box (side-mount), underneath a cabinet (undermount) or in a center-mounted location on a cabinet wall.
When making a drawer on slides, there are some important considerations that need to be taken into account. First, you must choose the type of slide that best fits your project needs. Next, you must build your drawer to accommodate the specific clearances needed for the type of slide that you are using.
The most common type of drawer slide is the side-mount slide. They are used on everything from utility cabinets to toolboxes to kitchen drawers and offer the convenience of easy installation and smooth ball-bearing operation.
They are also available in epoxy-coated versions that offer a self-close feature and opening detent to keep the drawer open when you need it, but shut when you don’t. These options make side-mount drawer slides a popular choice for DIYers looking to increase their storage capacity while also adding functionality.
Undermount Drawer Slides
Unlike side-mount drawer slides, undermount drawer slides are completely concealed beneath the drawer. The advantage of this design is that it requires much less space on the sides for drawer clearance, which allows more room for storage inside. It also holds more weight, which makes it more stable and more durable.
You can also use undermount slides in inset drawers, as long as the front is positioned so that there is equal clearance on each side of the drawer. It’s important to note that most inset drawers require more clearance than standard, side-mounted drawers, so be sure to measure your drawers carefully before purchasing slides for this application.
When mounting the drawer slide to the frame, you need to make sure that it’s level, so use a jig or scrap board to support the slide while you attach it. If not, the slide will stick and the drawer won’t work smoothly.
Full-Extension Drawer Guides
The best way to make a drawer that extends all the way through a cabinet is to use wood guides that provide bottom and top support, along with side guidance to keep the drawer tracking straight. These guides can be fabricated from hardwoods that are known to wear well, such as hard maple or hickory. Once the guide is mounted to the drawer side, rub on paste wax or paraffin to create a smooth surface.
Another way to get a drawer that extends the full length of the cabinet is to mount the bottom and top guides 1/16″ proud of the face-frame rail. This provides a clean, uncluttered drawer side, and gives the front of the drawer a visual cue when it’s pulled out as far as you want it to go.
The only disadvantage to this method is that you’ll need to move the back of the drawer forward 2-4″ before the top and bottom are supported by the front guides, which can be a bit annoying. If you don’t want to move the back of the drawer, there are other methods for getting this same effect that don’t involve moving the drawer, such as a full-extension metal slide.