Drawer Guide Socket Breakage

What's making those plastic hardware pieces crack? Cabinetmakers talk it over. August 29, 2005

We have had an ongoing problem with drawer sockets breaking after the cabinets have been installed. This is happening in homes where the cabinets were installed 12 to 15 months ago. At first we thought that we just got a bad batch of sockets from our supplier, but now we are having failures on jobs where we have already replaced the original sockets. Has anyone had this problem before?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor T:
What's a drawer socket?

From contributor J:
Are you talking about the Mates to the Drawer Slides?

From the original questioner:
A drawer socket is the plastic piece that the drawer guide inserts into and is attached to the nail rail or back of the cabinet. The socket is normally screwed to the nail rail or to a spreader that is then attached to the nailer.

From contributor J:
It sounds like these sockets were stored in excessive heat prior to your mounting them.

From contributor K:
Some sockets are just made of junk plastic. Years ago we had a lot of trouble with Hettich. We had to replace many, many sockets. Switched to Grass and have never had trouble since. Blum is also a good choice, as I'm sure there are several other good ones. I’ve got several hundred slides and sockets just taking up space waiting for me to throw the in the scrap heap.

From contributor R:
Yes I have had the same problem, and like you figured they we bad sockets. I now screw the slide to box, and still have a bunch of R and L sockets.

From the original questioner:
We have since changed to a plug in socket. We bore holes in the back on our routers when we cut the job out and the sockets just pop in to the holes. This system works very well, but we are still having warranty calls on the old sockets.

The old sockets came from Hardware Resources but we are still not sure if the sockets were defective or if the distributor mixed in another manufacturer's guides with these sockets and the guides were too thick to work properly. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Contributor K, did Hettich give you any credits to help offset the costs of replacing the sockets.

From contributor F:
Because most ball bearing drawer slides are fairly durable, it seems to me that the weak link to providing a long lasting trouble free product would be the plastic mounting sockets. I have never used them and I have never had a callback. You must weigh what is more important to your business - the speed of using the sockets, or never having your customers find something wrong with your product.

I make all my partitions flush to the stile edges so I can screw the slide directly to the partition. On an interior stile, if one side is a sink, I naturally flush the partition to the side of the stile that gets a drawer instead of a false front. If both sides of the partition get drawers, I flush the partition to the side that gets a bank or stack of drawers instead of the side that has just a single drawer over a door or doors.

On the sides of partitions that are not flush to the stile edges but have a drawer or drawers, I install a build-out shim that is flush with the stile to screw the slide to.

This is more work than using the sockets, but until they make them out of metal so they have the same life expectancy as the slides they are made for, I choose to not risk having my clients find problems with my cabinetry.

From contributor K:
To the original questioner: I didn’t receive any credits from Hettich. I too use a plug-in slide, made by Grass.

From contributor H:
It is interesting to me how many of the posts involve how to solve a face frame cabinet problem. Maybe I just notice these more because I build frameless and think to myself. I am glad that I don’t have that problem because frameless is so much easier.

From contributor B:
Easiest is not always best. I have started using Blum tandems for higher quality and still use the rear sockets (of course they are metal for the tandems) but I also use the 230M from Blum and have always used the rear sockets. You just have to make sure that you use the heavy duty ones - Blum part #602320.

From contributor L:
I had the same problem a while back. It seems I was building the drawers too long. They were hitting on the sockets when they were closed, and on that job I removed the sockets and screwed the guides to the side panel. For the next job I built my drawers shorter and used the sockets again.