Furniture Making Tutorials #2: Solid Wood Drawer slide process

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Blog entry by BigRedKnothead posted 239 days ago 1884 reads 4 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Solid Bookmatched Panels - A how to. Part 2 of Furniture Making Tutorials series Part 3: Mortise and Tenons- Mortising machine and Dado blade Method. »

Alrighty folks, I try to ‘splain my wood drawer slide process.

First, find a hardwood in your rack that would be good for the slides. I used some 5/4 red oak in this case. Then, make a jig that will fit that stock snugly. Make the jig so the groove is centered on the drawer side, so it will work on both sides of the drawer. For the jig I use scrap plywood, brads, and a tablesaw for the jig. Takes a couple minutes:

After you have your grooves in you drawer sides, find some stock to make your tracks (below). I use a dado blade. You want these to fit your oak slides snugly as well.

Now for the install. With the drawer in place, you’ll need to do some figuring to see how wide your oak slides need to be. The space on the left of the drawer might not be the same as the space on the right. Figure the best you can. Error on the big side. You can always plane the oak slide down.

Then, it’s tricky, but you need to get the drawer in place with both tracks and slides in place on each side. Now level out the drawer as best you can with a square, or whatever reference point you have. Take a pencil and mark where the track is towards the back of the case. Always start with the back. Just needs to be close.

Screw in the back track according to you marks. Put in all back in and shim your drawer so the reveal is good around the front. Mark the front edge. Screw in the front part of the track and check. If it’s not good the first shot, no biggie. Your pencil line is a reference. Remove the screw and adjust accordingly….til you get it.

Now the stops. The oak slides are sill loose. Let the drawer push them back to the right spot (flush face). Mark if you can. I usually just stick a ruler down, hold it in place while I remove the drawer. You should only have to do this once. Use your square as a gauge for the others. Yes, I really have that many freckles;)

That’s pretty much it. To get the drawer running smoothly. I’ll usually remove the oak runner one at a time and plane them to precision. The least amount play…the better. Too much slop makes them slide worse.

And if your doing stacked drawers, like on a dresser or tv stands below…do the bottom first. Then try to makes some scrap to use as spacers building upward. Don’t forget to rub some paraffin wax on dem slides.

Anyway. Hope it helps. If I save ya’ll some of the time and frustration it took me to learn this…it’s worth it. I can make/install wood slides faster than most metal slides now.
All that said, if anyone has ways to improve, I’m all ears.

-- Red -- "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one." C.S. Lewis

7 comments so far

View CFrye's profile


2472 posts in 436 days

#1 posted 239 days ago

Red, great tutorial. These are fairly large drawers. At what size (smaller) do the slides become unnecessary? Or is that a personal preference? Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View AnthonyReed's profile


4356 posts in 1036 days

#2 posted 239 days ago

Thank ya BRK.

-- ~Tony

View BigRedKnothead's profile (online now)


4382 posts in 578 days

#3 posted 239 days ago

Candy, I don’t know if there’s a size requirement. I just know that when the drawer side is too small, like on a machinist tool chest, slides just don’t make sense.

-- Red -- "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one." C.S. Lewis

View b2rtch's profile


4286 posts in 1644 days

#4 posted 238 days ago

I just wonder how they wear,especially with heavy loads in the drawers.

-- Bert

View BigRedKnothead's profile (online now)


4382 posts in 578 days

#5 posted 237 days ago

Bert- As long as you use hardwoods, they should last the life of the furniture. I know they’re stronger than a sliding dovetail under the drawer.

-- Red -- "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one." C.S. Lewis

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

4983 posts in 2309 days

#6 posted 208 days ago

To make wooden drawer slides run smoother I have used the white soapstone welder’s chalk to libricate the slide. It seems, to me, less sticky and less of a dust collector than the paraffin. It also is very tidy to appply. Has anyone else used this chalk like this?

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View TechRedneck's profile


735 posts in 1453 days

#7 posted 207 days ago

Hey Red, thanks for the tips. I have a bunch of drawers to do for a large project and just hate the metal slides for good furniture.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

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