Side mount drawer slides

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Forum topic by ChrisForthofer posted 08-06-2010 04:14 PM 5996 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ChrisForthofer's profile


150 posts in 3272 days

08-06-2010 04:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I have very limited experience installing these things and am looking for some tips/guidelines to avoid having to rework a bunch of drawers in a shop cart I am building. All manufacturers give you a thickness of the slide (the standard seems to be 1/2 inch for standard duty slides) so I have been taking my cabinet opening subtracing an inch (for 2 slides) and building my drawer boxes to this dimension. Well I did this on a coffee table I built recently and wound up having to plane the sides of the drawer boxes to get the slides to function well. I measured twice and cut several times and had the boxes 1” less than my opening originally in the coffee table, after planing the boxes were a 1/16th of an inch to a hair more smaller and this made them function perfectly.

My question is this, am I better off making my drawer boxes a 1/16th (or more?) smaller from the get go to avoid having to adjust the width on each one? Planing the sides of the drawers will be more difficult/ugly on the shop cart as the drawers are ply and not solid like the ones in the table. Is there some “standard” size smaller that I should be making the drawers that I could have missed in the directions? Your thoughts and experiences would be greatly appreciated!


-- -Director of slipshod craftsmanship and attention deficit woodworking

7 replies so far

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 3210 days

#1 posted 08-06-2010 04:42 PM

You don’t mention the brand or quality of the slides you are using. Most of the Euro type drawer slides that are side mounted have one side that is “captured” in that the cabinet member has a little lip that keeps the rollers from moving to the side. You want to make sure that that side of the slide is perpendicular to the face and that the box is square.
I have put hundreds (if not thousands) of drawers in kitchen cabinets and can tell you that a little too loose is better than a little too tight.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3405 days

#2 posted 08-06-2010 05:10 PM

Here is a video that the Wood Whisperer posted regarding installation, hope it helps.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View Builder_Bob's profile


161 posts in 3264 days

#3 posted 08-06-2010 05:22 PM

A problem I had with tight slides turned out to be interference of the mounting screw heads as they passed each other. If you feel a few tight spots as the slide moves, try replaing the screws on either the box or the drawer with flathead screws.

-- "The unexpected, when it happens, generally happens when you least expect it."

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3491 days

#4 posted 08-06-2010 06:19 PM

I typically make my drawers 1 1/16” less than the opening. If they happen to be too loose, you can always shim with a business card or something similar. That is much easier than sanding down the side of a drawer that’s too tight.


View ChrisForthofer's profile


150 posts in 3272 days

#5 posted 08-06-2010 07:27 PM

The slides I used on the Coffee table were Rockler store brand “Topslide” I think is what they were called. For the work cart/bench I think I am going to use some heavy duty units that are as reasonably cheap as I can find. Sounds like smaller and around a 1/16th is the way to go. I did check the screw heads on the coffee table slides, no interference that I could find, just to tight a fit. Thanks for the input so far, any more suggestions are welcome.


-- -Director of slipshod craftsmanship and attention deficit woodworking

View Ger21's profile


1075 posts in 3336 days

#6 posted 08-07-2010 03:51 AM

I program CNC machines to cut hundreds of drawers a year, and always cut them 1/32” smaller.

Most slide manufacturers specify 1” +0 -1/16” as the tolerance, so anywhere between 1” and 1-1/16” should work. Shoot for 1-1/32”, and you have a little margin both ways.

-- Gerry,

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3273 days

#7 posted 08-07-2010 05:11 AM

I always make drawers 1-1/16” less than the opening. The mounting tabs will flex inward a little to accomodate a slightly smaller box, but there ain’t no “give” in the other direction.

You should also measure both the front and back of the opening. If the carcass sides are a little out of parallel, a good fit in front might “pinch” the box at the back.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

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