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Drawer won't close properly, what am I doing wrong?

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Forum topic by HandyHousewife posted 05-26-2016 08:12 PM 679 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HandyHousewife

6 posts in 192 days


05-26-2016 08:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question pine drawers

We built a desk, and it has 5 drawers that seem to work perfectly, and 1 that won’t close unless you pick up slightly on the left side of the drawer above it. I tried to show a picture of the drawers all closed, and one where you can see how the middle one catches on the top one on the left side.

Hopefully helpful details:
The drawers use euro style slides (which I’m not sure I’d ever do that again!)
When I put the level across the two slides the side that doesn’t hang up is the side that needs to go down???
A torpedo level front-back tells me that both slides are level.
This is only our second attempt at drawers, and the first semi-successful attempt.

-- Striving for function *and* form, but settling quite happily for function. ;-)


14 replies so far

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1831 days


#1 posted 05-26-2016 09:03 PM

kind of hard to evaluate from the pictures, but a few things to check :

- Are all of the drawers completely flat on the bottom (put it on a known flat surface, like a countertop, and see if its truly flat)? Are the fronts and sides square, measured corner to corner?
- Is the slide hardware on the drawer box mounted exactly the same distance from the bottom of the box on both sides, and level front-to-back? It isn’t something silly, like the roller is mounted upside down or something, is it?
- Is the drawer hardware on the inside of the desk mounted level on both sides, and level front to back? I like to measure my drawer slide heights from the bottom of the case, and use a plywood spacer block to position them on the sides while I install them, to ensure consistent spacing.
- Are those false fronts? Are they all square? If you get the drawers installed square to the desk, putting the drawer fronts on afterwards should be a snap with some spacers.

I think if you go back and recheck all of those things, you’ll find something out of place. Square, flat drawers, installed into a square case, with the hardware all level and equidistant from the bottom of the case and bottom of the drawer box, should produce well-fitting drawers.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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WhyMe

612 posts in 1023 days


#2 posted 05-26-2016 09:52 PM

Is this a built in desk or free standing? Not clear on how you are using a level for fitting drawers?

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cabmaker

1506 posts in 2271 days


#3 posted 05-26-2016 10:27 PM

what euro slides did you use? If you used the roller on rail type…...you may be binding at the rise moment the roller experiences before seating in the slide.

View MNgary's profile

MNgary

295 posts in 1879 days


#4 posted 05-26-2016 10:59 PM

Might be the camera angle, but it looks like the gap between the drawers varies from zero on the left (where it is hanging up) to a normal gap on the right. I suggest it is time to forget the absolute level and focus, instead, on what will look right in the mind’s eye.

Is the design/assembly such that you can plane the drawer front(s) a bit to resolve your problem? Or is it not the drawer fronts that are binding to prevent closing?

Another thought I have is raise top drawer left-facing slide and/or lower center drawer left-facing slide.

Of course, my thoughts are that it is a drawer front problem. Is it?

-- I dream of the world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

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jbay

812 posts in 361 days


#5 posted 05-26-2016 11:18 PM

If you can push down on the left side of that center drawer and it moves, you have an alignment problem between the two guides. 2 possible fixes for that. Raise the back of the right hand guide that is on the cabinet. This will lower the left side of the front. Or lower the back of the left hand guide on the cabinet. This will let that side settle down into the guide. Measure the guides from the floor up and it should tell you which guide is out of whack.
Also check that the spacing is 1” clearance in the front and in the back, it’s possible that if the clearance is out in the back the roller could be trying to come off the track.

-- My “MO” involves Judging others, playing God, acting as LJs law enforcement, and never admitting any of my ideas could possibly be wrong or anyone else's idea could possibly be correct -- (A1Jim)

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

1113 posts in 2406 days


#6 posted 05-27-2016 04:36 AM

Sounds like the one, which won’t close, might be climbing in the back. Alternately, the one above it is dropping. See item two of the post above.

If you move the one above it and peak, I’ll bet you’ll find the gap on the back left and right, to the guides above, are off at least the amount you have to lift the one above.

I made gauges that make it impossible to miss the height of shelves, slides and so forth. You can make them using telescoping tubes from a presentation display, use a folding ruler and so on. I like the former because you can lock them in place.

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TheFridge

5765 posts in 948 days


#7 posted 05-27-2016 05:01 AM

Don’t use a level use a square.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View HandyHousewife's profile

HandyHousewife

6 posts in 192 days


#8 posted 05-31-2016 06:12 PM

Thanks for the replies, everyone! I’m going through each one carefully to see which one might work best for what I have to work with. I think the big lesson learned here is to test fit the drawers and their slides before doing the finish work. Live and learn!

-- Striving for function *and* form, but settling quite happily for function. ;-)

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HandyHousewife

6 posts in 192 days


#9 posted 05-31-2016 07:06 PM

After following BinghamptonEd and jbay’s advice, I think I’ve found my problem. There isn’t a lot of clearance, so even the 1/16” of an inch that is off made a difference. The bottom of the drawer on top runs juuuuust a bit wider on the side that hangs up. I also moved the rails just a touch using jbay’s advice which got them to close, even though they scraped. I think once I figure out how to get that face board leveled out I’ll be good to go.

So now my question is: what do I use to shave off 1/16”? Especially when it only needs to be done on half-ish of the face board? I have an electric planer, but I haven’t used it at all, we’ve currently got a table saw that belongs to a contractor friend, and 3 types of sander (belt, random orbit, mouse). Would the plane work best, or should I stick with something I know, i.e. belt sander? I feel like the table saw might be too aggressive, but I’d never used one at all before a couple of weeks ago, and my experience with it is limited.

-- Striving for function *and* form, but settling quite happily for function. ;-)

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jbay

812 posts in 361 days


#10 posted 05-31-2016 07:20 PM

I’d say with your experience, I would put a piece of tape on it and draw a line, then use the belt sander to take it to your line.

Another tip I use is, after I figure the height of my guide I cut a pc of scrap wood to set it on and use it for both sides. This keeps them level and the same. I start with the top 1st, then cut it down for the next ones.

-- My “MO” involves Judging others, playing God, acting as LJs law enforcement, and never admitting any of my ideas could possibly be wrong or anyone else's idea could possibly be correct -- (A1Jim)

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1831 days


#11 posted 05-31-2016 07:24 PM

I’ve used the tablesaw to tweak false fronts before, it’s pretty easy and not too aggressive. I used a simple crosscut sled, basically a piece of plywood with a runner under it that fits in the miter slot, and a fence on the back, and marked the amount to get removed on the workpiece, and stuck a shim between the piece and the fence to get it angled on the sled (I used a dime).

Alternatively, if you don’t have a crosscut sled, you could just use the miter gauge that came with the saw, it just might take some trial and error on scrap to get the angle you want. It doesn’t need to be aggressive, make a pass that doesn’t cut anything, and keep nudging the workpiece closer towards the blade and making consecutive passes. Trying to get it right on the first pass, without a sled, is probably asking for a mistake.

The electric planer could work, I’ve never used one, but a normal hand plane would be great for this situation. My only hesitation is whether you have enough of an edge to set the planer on, or if it is too short, same goes for the belt sander.

Whatever way you end up going, I’d recommend taking a straightedge and a knife, and scribing the final line you’d like to trim to, so you don’t overshoot it.

Edit : It just occurred to me that I’m not sure if you’re looking to take a bit off the end, or along the length. If along the length, I’d opt for the sander or planer. You might try the planer on scrap first, to see how it performs.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View HandyHousewife's profile

HandyHousewife

6 posts in 192 days


#12 posted 05-31-2016 07:59 PM


I d say with your experience, I would put a piece of tape on it and draw a line, then use the belt sander to take it to your line.

Another tip I use is, after I figure the height of my guide I cut a pc of scrap wood to set it on and use it for both sides. This keeps them level and the same. I start with the top 1st, then cut it down for the next ones.

- jbay

Oddly enough, we watched a youtube video explaining this, but it was after we had already started (at the bottom, of course) and were having difficulty. Maybe next time we’ll give that a try!

I think you are probably right about the tape for a sanding guide. That seems like the best way to me as well.


I ve used the tablesaw to tweak false fronts before, it s pretty easy and not too aggressive. I used a simple crosscut sled, basically a piece of plywood with a runner under it that fits in the miter slot, and a fence on the back, and marked the amount to get removed on the workpiece, and stuck a shim between the piece and the fence to get it angled on the sled (I used a dime).

Alternatively, if you don t have a crosscut sled, you could just use the miter gauge that came with the saw, it just might take some trial and error on scrap to get the angle you want. It doesn t need to be aggressive, make a pass that doesn t cut anything, and keep nudging the workpiece closer towards the blade and making consecutive passes. Trying to get it right on the first pass, without a sled, is probably asking for a mistake.

The electric planer could work, I ve never used one, but a normal hand plane would be great for this situation. My only hesitation is whether you have enough of an edge to set the planer on, or if it is too short, same goes for the belt sander.

Whatever way you end up going, I d recommend taking a straightedge and a knife, and scribing the final line you d like to trim to, so you don t overshoot it.

Edit : It just occurred to me that I m not sure if you re looking to take a bit off the end, or along the length. If along the length, I d opt for the sander or planer. You might try the planer on scrap first, to see how it performs.

- BinghamtonEd

The saw we borrowed belongs to a siding contractor, it doesn’t have a miter gauge, just a fence. It runs smooth as silk, but I’m pretty sure it’s been a long time since Rockwell made a model 10! It’s for the length, so I’ll take your advice and go with the sander. Less chance for major screw-ups that way, even if it might make for a slightly wobbly line.

-- Striving for function *and* form, but settling quite happily for function. ;-)

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BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1831 days


#13 posted 05-31-2016 08:05 PM

If you’re worried about your line being wobbly with a powered sander, get close to it (1/32”), then finish by hand sanding with a sanding block (either one you buy, or just a flat piece of scrap wood with the sandpaper on it). Taking full-length passes with a sanding block should result in a pretty straight edge.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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HandyHousewife

6 posts in 192 days


#14 posted 06-11-2016 01:10 PM

Just wanted to say thank you for all the advice! We got it (finally :-)

-- Striving for function *and* form, but settling quite happily for function. ;-)

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