Full Extension Drawer Glides – On the House

Full Extension Drawer Glides

By on November 21, 2015

Through the years we have discovered that many folks choose cabinets for their kitchen or bath based on appearance only – you know – wood specie, stain color and door style. Well, appearance is certainly an important factor, but there are several other aspects of cabinet construction which are equally important.

Regardless of the type of wood, stain color or door style there is another factor that can greatly affect cabinet cost – specifically door drawer configuration. There are three basic combinations: 1) door(s) only, 2) door and drawer, and 3) drawers only. Where a door can be made from a single piece of wood, even the least expensive drawer must be constructed from at least five pieces of wood – a front, a back, sides and a bottom. In addition, the hardware used to mount a drawer is more expensive than the hinges used to mount a door. Therefore, a door only cabinet is less expensive to create than one with a door and a drawer, and a cabinet with a bank of drawers is more expensive than both.

How good a cabinet looks doesn’t necessarily indicate its durability or lasting quality — especially when it comes to drawers. Did you ever open a drawer that rubbed, squeaked, wiggled or just plain wouldn’t open or close easily? Our guess is that if you have ever had such an experience you absolutely did not care how pretty the cabinet was – and that you simply wanted the drawer to slide smoothly and not fall out of the cabinet when it is opened all the way.

By the way, not all drawers open completely. That is, some types of drawer hardware prevent the back of the drawer from being pulled out all the way to the face of the cabinet. In the past you may have thought that the failure of a drawer to open completely was just a fact of life – not really! When “full extension” drawer glide hardware is used the drawer can be fully opened. That is the back of the drawer is completely visible when the drawer is fully opened. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, there is some bad news, full extension drawer glides are more expensive than the regular kind. Oh, but what a difference! Smooth, roller bearing operation, easy to remove drawers that don’t stick or rub and strong enough for the grandkids to hang on to. It is important to keep the hardware in mind when shopping for new cabinets.

If you already have cabinets and want to upgrade to full extension hardware, don’t be shy. If there isn’t a handy person in your castle then call in a cabinet maker or a handy man. The task is definitely time consuming, but it is definitely is not brain surgery.

Not every drawer can be easily upgraded. In some cabinet configurations upgrading could require complete drawer replacement. In any event, we will assume that your cabinet has the half inch of space required between the outside of the drawer and the side of the drawer opening. This means that the drawer opening must be a minimum of one inch wider than the drawer.

Also, mounting boards will have to be installed inside the cabinet on either side of each drawer. A one by three or one by four piece of pine normally is used, and runs from the drawer opening to the back of the cabinet. Pine is reasonably easy to work with, reasonably priced and readily available. Plywood can work, but is not recommended. Also, to insure adequate strength, we recommend against using particle board.

Each full extension drawer glide comes in two pieces. One piece attaches to the drawer and the other attaches to the mounting board — one on each mounting board and one on each side of the drawer. There is almost no room for error when it comes to the space between the drawer and the mounting boards. Also, the mounting boards must be parallel to each other and perpendicular to the face of the cabinet – a framing square can help here.
It is important to mount the drawer as low as possible – without causing the bottom of the drawer to rub against the bottom of the opening. This maximizes what can be stored between the inside of the drawer and the top of the opening.

Although the procedure we have described is possible to perform with countertops in place, mounting board installation and alignment is considerably more easy to accomplish when the countertop has been removed. The additional access can actually turn a two-week job into a two day project. In a cabinet shop, the track mounting boards are the last of the internal items to be installed. A trick cabinet makers use is to install the mounting boards into the cabinet case while they are attached to the drawer via the hardware. While holding the drawer in the closed position the mounting boards are attached to the casework.

For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.

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