|Home Articles Taking the Pain Out of Drawer Installation|
Taking the Pain Out of Drawer Installation
On the most basic level, the best way to get drawer slides to function correctly is to work toward perfect drawer travel geometry right from the start. In other words, take care to build cabinets and drawer boxes as square as possible, and in the correct proportions with one another. While you’re at it, get to know the slides you are planning to use, and do everything in your power to build cabinets that make installing them as easy as possible. That way, when it comes time to install the drawers, all you’ll have to do is get the slides installed straight, and in the right vertical location.
Even with the most careful planning and building, getting the slides in the right spot and level can be a challenge. The precise, mechanical nature of the average drawer slide doesn’t allow much margin for error, and while most drawer slides are adjustable in some measure, it’s not often by very much, and not necessarily in every direction. That’s where a slide jig can really help out. In fact, if the raw materials – the drawers and cabinets – are as straight and square, a simple, affordable jig can mean the difference between several awkward adjustment cycles and getting the slide in the exactly correct position on the first try.
The Blum Slide Jig Gun, made for use with the extremely popular Blum Epoxy Coated Low Profile Slide, is an excellent example. The slide gun holds the cabinet-half of the slide in a perfectly level position, and makes it easy to keep it there while you either screw it in place or drill a pilot hole. The Rockler Drawer Slide Jig-It works on a similar principle, and makes level installation of a wide range of popular Accuride ball bearing slides - as well as Blum’s low profile series – a simple task. Each of the Jig-It slide jigs is laid out and drilled with mounting hole locations for an entire series of slides. Used in combination with a self-centering drill bit, the Jig-It makes drilling perfectly aligned mounting holes fast and simple – especially when it comes to difficult-to-reach screws toward the back of the cabinet.
For face frame cabinets, another common slide-mounting challenge is bringing the slide out flush with the face frame opening. The most typical solution is to bring the cabinet wall out flush with the drawer opening. This is a common practice among pros and hobbyists alike, and is usually accomplished by simply ripping down material to match the distance between the edge of the face frame and the inside wall of the cabinet, and then attaching it in strips at the drawer slide locations.
Another option for the rear end of the slide is to use a slide socket. Blum Mounting Sockets, for example, hold the back end of 230m series slides securely in position on the cabinet back, and allow for minor adjustments to the position of the slide once it’s installed. A slide socket is also one of the simplest solutions for situations where there isn’t a cabinet wall to rely on, such as a cabinet with two drawer stacks and no partition in between. Remember, though, that the cabinet back has to be able to take a screw, and if you’re planning to use 1/4” material for the back, you’ll have to add a block of thicker material wherever your have a socket.
Of course, once you have the slides installed, there may be a thing or two left to tackle. So, while we’re on the subject, here are a few of words of advice on couple of related challenges: getting drawer fronts attached – if you’ve built separate drawer boxes and fronts – and on getting the pulls on straight and in a hurry.
|Washer Head Screws are a great choice for attaching false drawer fronts. The large head allows the use of an oversized screw hole, leaving a little "wiggle room" for getting the front aligned just right.|
Washer head screws can so greatly simplify the process of attaching drawer fronts that you may, in fact, have the energy left over to move right on the drawer pulls – in which case, you’ll be looking for an equally expedient method for this final stage. Once again, a simple jig can make all the difference. The Rockler Deluxe Drawer Pull Jig-It will help you mark off hole locations in about half the time it takes with a tape measure. The jig’s measuring scale makes it easy to find the center of the drawer, and a side stop block makes repeating the process on same-sized drawers instantaneous.
The jig’s front surface is drilled with pre-set spacing for the most common drawer pull bore dimensions, so you won’t have to grapple with the usual arithmetic exercise of subtracting the bore width from the drawer front width and dividing by two, etc. In fact, the Drawer Pull Jig-It makes messing up, or taking a long time to install knobs and pulls hard to do. Used together with a few other simple drawer installation helping hands, it may even lead to thoughts like, “You know, this isn’t so bad after all."