Cabinet Backs and Slide Installation

What other shops are using for back material and it works with back-mounted drawer slides. February 8, 2005

I build face frame cabinets and am currently using 1/4" backs on all cabs (uppers, base, entertainment centers, you name it). What do you use? On base cabinets, how are you mounting slides? Are you building up the reveal with scrap plywood stock, as I currently am, or are you using 1/2" backs with those slide sockets that get screwed to the back? Are those sockets any good or totally generic? I use Accuride metal slides and Grass basic European slides.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I use 3/4" CG plywood on base modules and 1/2" CG plywood on the upper modules. I use the Kreg pocket hole system, which eliminates having to rabbet the sides. I use the bottom mount rails with the sockets, as well. If you are going to mount them to the sides of the modules, I would use hardwood that matches the interior finish. If you rabbet your stiles, you will have to ensure that when you apply the facing, the interior inset of the stile will be the same thickness as the drawer rail mount being used. This will allow you to achieve a flush finish when the drawer is extended; as opposed to seeing the edge of your mount. The problem you will have is that this method is unforgiving (as far as having the drawer front close perfectly against the module). If you are 1/16" off square, your drawer will either have a gap on the left or right side. If you are a perfectionist, this will simply not do. Use the glides with the adjustable sockets. There are other, more expensive glide systems, but when I tell a client that the better glides are $17.00, they often choose the $6.00 glides found at local home improvement stores. In closing, 1/4" backings are the standard, but it is the things you do differently that will give you success... as well as satisfaction in your product.

From contributor R:
I use only Accuride or Fulterer ball bearing slides on my stuff. I skip right over the euro slides because I think they're shoddy. A little wave in the wall that tweaks the cab slightly and the euro slides will jump off the track. Makes customers unhappy when it happens, so I don't use them.

I use edgebanded ply behind the slides to shim them out when needed. I keep a ready supply of prebanded strips in the shop and make more in slow periods if I run low. Ply is more stable than the solid stock and won't split when I run a screw into it to hold the slide.

I also try to build so that FF's are flush with the interior in drawer boxes to eliminate needing to shim the slides. Sometimes this isn't possible (like when the customer doesn't want end panels), so the ply shims are needed.

From contributor G:

On cheaper cabinets I use Rucca slides with the plastic sockets. I build with 1/4" backs and then recess the nailer 3/4" and mount it low enough to screw the sockets through the back into the nailer. On drawer packs, I add more nailers just for the sockets. The sockets seem faster than shimming the inside of the partitions to mount the slides to. You need a lot of different thickness shims, which is just a pain. The sockets are adjustable and faster.

From contributor B:
We make U hangers and use a 7" nailer across the back of the cabinet. The sides of the hanger are 22 1/4 inches and the back is the same width as the drawer opening. We attach the slides to the hanger, leaving about 5/8 hanging over the front edge. Then attach the front two screws through the slides into the face frame. Slide the drawer in and align with one hand and set the back of the hanger with the other.

From contributor E:
I don't see how you could use the sockets with 1/4" backs. You could switch to a thicker back or switch to the method of flushing the box to the inside edge of the stiles, which makes slide installation too easy. It also makes it possible to line bore the sides if you have that capability. The other major benefit is that then you can use the regular hinge plates instead of the face frame types. It also allows you to use, if you use Blum, the Tandems and TandemBox slides without jury-rigging shims and spacers, which don't look very professional, in my opinion.