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Installing Drawer Slides

Installing metal drawer slides can seem a bit intimidating, but I’ve found a simple method that eliminates complicated measuring for each drawer slide. For this, I like to use the drawers themselves to mark the position. The idea is to use an MDF spacer to install the slide accurately, and keep both sides level. The photos show this procedure on a frameless cabinet, but it works for face frame cabinets as well.

Getting Started. The first step is to install the slides on the drawers. For convenience, I usually place them on the lower edge of the drawer. Here, I use the slotted horizontal holes to attach the slide. Using these holes allows me to make small adjustments as needed. Then, I assemble the slide so both pieces are attached to the drawer. Now, with the cabinet turned on its back, I put each of the drawers in position, as shown in the photo above. The drawers simply rest on the back of the cabinet.

Mark the Location. Once the drawers are in the proper place, I mark the bottom of each of the slides on the side of the cabinet, using a square. Once that’s complete, I remove the drawers and cut a spacer to the length of the mark for the top drawer.

Using Spacers. After clamping the spacer in position for the top drawer, you can use it to support the slide while you attach it to the cabinet side, as shown in the left photo below. For this, I use the slotted vertical holes.

Now, using the same spacer, you can attach the slide to the opposite side. Once both slides are in place, insert the drawer and test it for a smooth-rolling fit. You can then make small adjustments both horizontally (on the drawer piece) and vertically (on the cabinet piece) to fine-tune the position. Once you’re sure of the placement, you can add a couple of screws in the round holes to fix the position.

Cut the Spacer. The next step is to transfer the mark for the next drawer to your spacer (middle photo). Using that mark, you can cut it to the correct size and repeat the installation process for the rest of the drawer slides.

Good woodworking,

Phil Huber
Editor, ShopNotes

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