Drawer-Slide Installation Tips

Cabinetmakers suggest lower-fuss ways to install drawer slides. April 27, 2006

Iím working on solving bottlenecks in building cabinets/vanities, and assembly. One of my biggest bottlenecks is installing drawer slides in face frame cabinets. This is particularly true when it comes to installing the slides on center stiles of a face frame on a multi-drawer cabinet. I am building a 70" wide, three-section cabinet for one kitchen wall. The cabinet will have 9 drawers in the lower cabinet, and is face frame constructed, at the customerís request.

The main problem is attaching them to the back panel and keeping them square and level. I have a face frame drawer jig, but it is still a pain. I have tried attaching straight to the back, and also using the plastic brackets, but keeping them square and level seems to continually be a problem. I typically use KV full extension slides and the older style roller slides. Most of my customers won't go the extra money for the Blum bottom mount. I will be trying some of the new Amerock full extension slides shortly. Frameless isn't an issue. I pre-finish the panels, and install before I assemble the cabinets. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I have heard and read of different ways but the way I have always done it has worked for us for 13 years. First, we take the finished drawer with drawer front, and install the drawer member. Then we attach the cabinet members to the face-frame, leaving them loose at the back, with the plastic mounting sockets on, and it helps if they are tight. Then I slide the drawer in, making sure to catch the non-captive member and the rear socket, because sometimes it will push away. With the drawer in the opening and both slides engaged, I use my left hand to hold the drawer front against the face-frame, then mark the position of the rear sockets. Remove the drawer and staple (my help likes to just install the screws at this point, but I staple first - his way probably does work best) the socket to the back. Re-insert drawer and check the fit and travel, make any adjustments laterally or vertically and install screws. There may be easier ways but none I have heard or tried has beaten this. Like I said before, this works even better if the mounting sockets are tight because they help hold the slides in position. If you're lucky, you can sometimes remove the drawer and the slides will stay put long enough to install the screws without having to re-align to the marks. Hope this helps you, and if someone posts a better way I will try it. As papaw always said this method may not be "by the book" but it works.

From contributor B:
We use a socket nailer - just set it behind the face frame, mark it, attach sockets and staple thru the back. Tony's way will probably work even better and perfect every time.

From contributor C:
Cut a piece of 3/4 or 1/2 scrap ply 3" wide and the width of your face frame opening. Mount your sockets to this scrap piece. This will keep the back of the slides the same distance apart as the front of the slides attached to the face frame. Attach the front of the slides to the face frame - slide in your drawer box and get it even with your face frame. This is really easy if you have two people. Screw through your backs into the 3/4 ply and youíre done. KV makes a slide especially for this type of installation. The back of the slide bends at 90 degrees to screw into the scrap piece. It's the easiest way I've ever installed slides.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the input. I think I'll try all three and see which works best for me. Iím glad to see Iím not the only one that loses his patience installing drawers. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

From contributor D:
Build your frameless boxes, moving your hardware holes forward 3/4 of an inch, then mount the individual boxes behind the common face frame. If necessary, use spacers between the boxes. Makes for a heavy cabinet, but itís quick.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor E:
I am a cabinet contractor and I have been using the 1/2 nailer option that was previously mentioned for a few years now. The newer version of the sockets for the B230Ms are thicker and have just been modified so that the right rear drawer member scrapes along the bottom of the socket which makes the entire drawer stop before it is fully retracted. When attaching the right socket, I would recommend screwing or stapling the top right corner of the socket first and then twist the bottom of the socket away from the nailer slightly before attaching the other fastener. This will insure that the drawer will not scrape on the bottom.