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Repairing/Replacing Drawer Boxes or Drawer Slides

When replacing cabinet drawer slides/glides, the first thing you need to be aware of is what type of slide/glide you are using. They will determine the size of your drawer box relative to the drawer opening. In other words, the drawer box will need different clearances depending on the type of drawer slides you plan to use. You can't install a new type of drawer slide on an old cabinet drawer box. You will most likely need a new drawer box to match the new drawer slides.

Another important consideration when replacing drawer slides is your accessibility for installation. The original cabinet builder installed the slides during the construction of the cabinets before they were attached to the wall and without the counter top on. When replacing the drawer you will only have access through the drawer box opening, limiting your work space. You will need to use an installation system that will allow you to do this. (See Below)

There are many different types of slides in use today ranging from simple wood slides to hi tech gas shock absorbing types. Each is not without it's pros and cons. Below are a few of the most commonly found drawer slides.

Fig 1 Wood on Wood

1. Wood on Wood (Fig 1) – This type of slide is probably the oldest in existence. Although they are quite functional, they are often very hard to replace. Wood on Wood slides can become sticky due to wear, moisture, and the occasional paint drip. This type of slide is also known for not having a “stop”; as a result the drawer box can be pulled out too far and its contents spilled on the floor or quite possibly, one's foot! Unless you are restoring antique cabinetry or a fine piece of furniture it's best to steer clear of this type of slide.
Fig 2 Wheel “Under mount” Slides

2. Wheel “Under mount” Slides (Fig 2) – The Wheel “Under mount” slide was a design with good intentions, however, several drawbacks have prevented this from being the case. Unfortunately they are not very durable. The durability is even less if the drawer has a lot of weight stored in it, as the center wheel may develop a flat spot, making your rolling action harder. The side wheels can also develop flat spots on them. This design doesn't fully support the drawer box at the bottom and has an excessive sway action when opening and closing the drawer.
Fig 3 European Style Slides

3. European Style under mount slide (Fig 3) –This slide has a self-closing feature which is an added bonus. When operating, the drawer box is held firmly with little swaying motion, by a channel around right side wheel. These are one of the easiest slides to install due to its design of the open left side wheel allowing a wide tolerance of adjustments. This type of slide first appeared in the late 1980's originally was fastened to the back of the cabinet by means of a plastic boot (Fig 4) which tended to break after extended use. This was remedied by most good cabinet makers by using a continuous wooden support (Fig 5)

Fig 4 Plastic Boot

Fig 5 Wooden Support

Fig 6 Side Mount Full Extension Slides

4. Side Mount Full Extension Slides (Fig 6) – the side-mount full Extension slide enables the user to open the drawer box beyond the face of the cabinet box. Carrying an excessive amount of weight in the drawers could cause sagging, resulting in early replacement. Also it does not support the bottom of the drawer box. The slides may support the weight in the drawer but the drawer box itself may fail. This type of slide is generally an all metal construction with a roller-bearing slide action. It can be a very difficult to install because it's design has a very tight tolerance especially when trying to install through the drawer opening only.
5. Gas Piston Slide – While this is a very cool idea, it is most definitely an overkill. Very expensive and very difficult to install.
Our best recommendation is to use the European Style under mount slides. They are the easiest to install. If you buy the slide rated at 100 lbs. and mount them on a continuous wooden support, they should last a life time.

Fig 7 Drawer Box Kit - Wood

Fig 8 Drawer Box Kit - Melamine

Over the years, by making custom size cabinet doors and pre-cut cabinet refacing materials for our customers, we have discovered the need for a complete drawer box kit (Fig 7 or Fig 8). Our kit includes a custom size drawer box for your drawer size opening with pre-mounted slides on wooden supports, and a unique hanging system that allows you to install them through the drawer opening. See our Assembly Instructions. Kits come in your choice of (Fig 8) melamine ($35.00 ea.) or (Fig 7) pre-finished wood ($50.00 ea.). They are easy to assemble and install. We have sold thousands of these kits since we started offering them two years ago. The value of a kit is you don’t have to be an expert cabinet maker or need special tools to install them, anyone can do it.

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