Should I give up on wood drawer glides and switch to metal?

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Forum topic by ppg677 posted 04-01-2016 05:15 AM 1173 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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179 posts in 856 days

04-01-2016 05:15 AM

I’m attempting my first chest of drawers. The drawer openings are ~30” wide and 7” high. Now I created a stretcher/runner frames as shown in the pic. But I think I screwed up on the Dados. First, for some dumb reason I only did 1/8” deep dados. I glued the front stretcher part of the dado and left the rest unglued to account for movement.

Second, unlike a couple examples I’ve found, I did not use a sliding dovetail to reinforce the stretcher on the front and the back. Just dados. That’s it.

And finally because of my lack of precision, a few edges of my stretcher/runner frames were only being held up by a tiny bit of the dado. In the picture shown, one of the 4 corners of the frame is held up by just a tiny bit of the Dado. I ended up attempting reinforcement on these few corners by using a pocket screw (and I attempted to create a “slot” in the pocket screw hole so that case movement is not restricted).

At this point I’m wondering whether these wood stretchers held up by 1/8” dados are going to be sturdy enough to handle these big drawers filled with clothing.

And that maybe I should just abort on the wood glides (keep them in placed since they’re glued in and I can’t remove) and install metal runners.

10 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile


2926 posts in 1481 days

#1 posted 04-01-2016 11:42 AM

Yeah, those dados definitely should have been deeper.

Part of craftsmanship is learning how to get yourself out of a fix by doing a fix. On a piece like this, I am kind of averse to metal drawer slides.

You have to make spacers on the sides to build out flush with the face frame anyway, so use them to effectively make a deeper dado. The only difference is you would match grain direction with side and glue them on.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View KYSean's profile


119 posts in 3597 days

#2 posted 04-01-2016 12:56 PM

Wood drawer glides have been used for many many years with fine results.


View ppg677's profile


179 posts in 856 days

#3 posted 04-01-2016 12:57 PM

It’s not clear how I can make a fix? What spacers? Can you clarify?

View JoeinGa's profile


7736 posts in 2007 days

#4 posted 04-01-2016 01:33 PM

If that’s all you have going on for support, you DEFINITELY need something with more meat under there.

With the dresser have a face frame? If so, maybe something as simple as a support block (like 3/4” square) glued to the dresser wall under each of those frames.
Or since the drawers will hide them, perhaps a couple of these on each side or every frame.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View ppg677's profile


179 posts in 856 days

#5 posted 04-01-2016 01:50 PM

No, I wasn’t planning on a face frame. Was going for flush fit drawers. The thing is, if I press down really hard it seems pretty sturdy. And the opposite side of that runner has the full support. So it is just the one corner that isn’t held up by much and I do have a pocket screw for more support.

At this point I’m leaning towards metal runners for piece of mind.

View JoeinGa's profile


7736 posts in 2007 days

#6 posted 04-01-2016 02:08 PM

Since there will be no face frame, the metal angle pieces I pictured above would be hidden by the drawers. Put them UNDER each runner, I’d do 2 on each side of each drawer runner, one towards the front and one towards the rear.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View jdh122's profile


1013 posts in 2818 days

#7 posted 04-01-2016 02:24 PM

While you probably should have made them a bit deeper, I think that the dados are in fact deep enough to hold the drawer and contents. The bigger problem is the tightness of the fit. In the 3rd picture down I’d be a bit worried about it, while the fourth one will hold. If you have a tight fit in the front you can simply glue a little block of wood at the very back of the carcass (glue it to the side of the carcass but not the drawer-slide frame you made so the wood can move). This is similar to Joe’s suggestion, but if you then make your drawers a little shallower it will all fit fine. Improving things in the front is going to be more complicated, though.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1288 posts in 1730 days

#8 posted 04-01-2016 02:34 PM

Whatever the gap is, divide it by 2 and cut some shims the length of the dado, and glue it to the short pieces. Clean it up, and put it back into the dado. The piece will have a tad bit more support. If that’s not good, disassemble what you’ve got, and re-cut the dados. Then, remake the pieces that are going to be short. Reassemble and be happy with your piece of furniture. ............ Good luck….... Jerry(in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View MrRon's profile


4771 posts in 3244 days

#9 posted 04-01-2016 05:03 PM

It shouldn’t be a problem to knock out the stretchers and recut the dados. It looks like there is enough clearance to use a hand held router inside the carcass. You should have a stopped dado so there is no dado shown on the front. I would cut a new dado, 1/4” deep and add a small filler piece at the front of the dado, matching the edge grain. Make the stretchers, joining the corners with a mortise and tenon joint I really don’t see where expansion/contraction would enter into the construction. Are you going to use a center runner, or just the side runners? The center runner, actually a guide keeps the drawer centered so it doesn’t bind with the sides of the carcass. Using both is a sign of quality workmanship. Get some UHMW PSA and apply it to the side runners.. It has a slippery surface that will allow the drawers to glide effortlessly. You can add a slight relief where the front of the runner mates the carcass side. The width if the relief would be the same as the clearance between drawer front and carcass side and only about a 1/16” deep.

View ppg677's profile


179 posts in 856 days

#10 posted 04-01-2016 05:43 PM

I think I like the jdh122 approach of just using some blocks in the back and making the drawers slightly shallower! The fits in the front are pretty tight, and the front is already glued and I can reinforce with a pocket screw. So if tight-fitting 1/8” dados generally work, perhaps I’ll try that. Otherwise I’d rather use metal runners than redo the stretchers.

As far as my dumb mistake— I saw “shallowed stopped dado” in this document, so that’s what I did :-(

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