How to build a drawer

How to build a drawer

Lukas, Constructeur bois passionné, Marne

Guide written by:

Lukas, Constructeur bois passionné, Marne

36 guides

Storage drawers are essential in kitchens, offices, dressing rooms, and so many other rooms. They can be custom, standard and even internal! Equipped with either runners or balls, or rods for pot and pan drawers, they are often require assembly as they are delivered in a kit.

Important features

  • Roller or ball bearing slide
  • Weight and length
  • Fixation
  • Drawer rod
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What are the components of a drawer?

Drawer slide: definition and type

Refers to the mechanism that allows the drawer to move. A slide is made up of two elements, which can be separable or not, fixed respectively on the cabinet and the drawer - the removeable element is called the slide. Depending on their technology, either runners or balls, slides may or may not be able to be detached. The slides operate in pairs - each side of the drawer has a slide - and their degree of lateral stability, guidance and ease of sliding are relative to their quality and technology - ball-bearing slides offer a better comfort of use. Some slides also have a shock-absorbing system to stop the drawer from slamming.


Runner slide

In nylon or steel, the rollers operate on a square fixed to the piece of furniture. Runners are generally fixed on the outer corners of the drawer bottom and are composed of two separable elements. This mechanism allows the drawer to be easily removed - while other slides have an anti-separation system. Runner slides are inexpensive and fit most basic furniture however, some pairs of slides can withstand loads up to 50 kg.

Ball bearing

Made of steel and rarely made of plastic, ball-bearing slides are made up of two non-separable parts, one of which, the slide, is telescopic to allow the drawer's operation.Requiring a groove, of different lenthgs, ball-bearing slides are mounted on the sides of the drawer, offering precise guidance and high lateral stability. Their load weight is variable and is one of the determining characteristics for each pair of ball bearings - from 25 to over 45 kg.

Characteristics of the ball and roller slides

The length of the slide corresponds more or less to the depth of your drawer. The smallest ones are 200 mm, the majority 350 mm and the longest intended for professional uses can go up to 1 meter. This slide's width determines the capacity in mm of the drawer's aperture - or opening. With this in mind, there are three possible scenarios:

  • A width less than the length of the slide, which allows for partial removal of the drawer - convenient for small spaces;
  • A width corresponding to the length of the slide, allowing for total removal and full access - perfect for a kitchen!
  • A large width- the rarely-used telescopic system.

Regarding the maximum slide load: do not hesitate to oversize the bearing capacity of your system to avoid the catastrophe, especially if your furniture is destined to store tools.

For a drawer containing a heavy load, go for the partial removal slides to avoid any risk of tilting of the furniture. It is also recommended to purchase a model with an anti-stall system.


Drawer mounting

To assemble your new drawers and establish the connection between the facade and the side walls or to connect drawer rods, you will need different fixings:

  • Side mount, mainly metal and sometimes plastic, they screw on the facade and receives the lateral rodes through clips;
  • Front fasteners, which are inserted into the previously mentionned side mount. Don't hesitate to choose quality products!
  • Rod fasteners, to be screwed in or inserted into a hole, in order then to be able to clip the drawer rod thereupon;
  • A set of connections, who's role is to bind the drawer's two elements and conceal the connection mechanism. Rearwall connections are also available for the front rod - specifically for English style drawers, that is to say, integrated inside the cabinet and contained in another drawer of larger dimensions.


Drawer rod

The drawer rods links the drawer's front facade to it's base, or back. The rods are also used as reinforcement when the facade is larger than the bottom, as they maintain the squareness of the drawer and prevent the tearing of the facade due to its high height.Particularly used in kitchen drawers, the rods are handy for keeping utensils in the drawer.


Drawer basket

Drawer baskets are generally found in kitchens, where they are essential to ensuring the best use of space! Intended to optimize the storage of cutlery, their measurements are based on the drawer's interior dimensions. Separations serve to compartmentalize the drawers - only their length is still to be determined.


Drawer kit

Coming with a pair of runner slides, two side walls, a front, a bottom and, if need be, rods, this kit allows for the quick installation of a drawer without worrying about compatibility with the selected piece of furniture. It still needs to be selected with the right dimensions though!

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5 questions / answers on drawers

How to install a sliding drawer?


The first step is to assemble the different parts of the drawer: bottom, side walls, back and front. Drawer assembly generally uses wooden dowels to be glued - trunnions - and fixings for the surface. Since the holes are pre-drilled, it is difficult to get it wrong!The most complicated step is to fix the slides in the right place and in the right direction ... although, since the walls and the structures have already been drilled, it is normally simple enough to follow the holes!

How to Set a Kitchen Drawer?

Depending on the mechanism and the manufacturer, setting a kitchen drawer can be more or less easy. They are mostly made with screws and most often you will need a phillips screwdriver.

The front is attached to the drawer's side walls and its position can be modified vertically - sometimes even horizontally for advanced models - in order to align it with the other pieces of furniture. It is also possible to adjust the drawer's slides and set its resistance to opening.

Which drawer slide length to choose?

This ultimately depends on the drawer, the available space, what it is meant to contain, its load weight and the stability of the cabinet:

  • For small spaces, a shorter reach than the drawer length, and it will extend to 75% of its length;
  • For frequent use, a reach equal to the slide length is preferred, you have easy access to the entire drawer;
  • For a specific use, you can opt for a longer length: thus, the drawer will come completely out of the furniture.

Why does a drawer jam or stick?

First of all, it can obviously be an excess of weight, which will then weigh down on the groove, twisting the slides and runners: in this case, either lighten the drawer or find a sturdier one! If it is a wooden drawer with grooves, you can apply wax or paraffin inside the groove and on the slide to make it smoother. If the drawer is still stuck, the wood may have swelled, locate where the wood deformation is and reduce it to get your slide working again.

What to install for a drawer to close gently?

You can install a shock absorber system on your drawers: that way they will close gently. Often referred to as silent systems by manufacturers, the shock absorbers are equipped with high quality drawer slides.

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More information

For anyone who is in the middle of a renovation or simply looking to add some more storage, follow the links below for accessories, advice from our editors and more helpful guides:

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Guide written by:

Lukas, Constructeur bois passionné, Marne, 36 guides

Lukas, Constructeur bois passionné, Marne

Après avoir quelques temps roulé ma bosse dans le bâtiment, notamment dans tout ce qui touche à la rénovation – peinture, carrelage, menuiserie, pose de cuisine et de salle de bain  – j’ai décidé de passer un diplôme de « Monteur constructeur bois » et j’ai bien fait car rien n’est plus plaisant que de travailler sur une charpente ou de concevoir une maison en bois ! Tout ce qui touche au travail du bois me passionne, et construire ma propre maison dans ce matériau est un de mes buts ! Je suis également un adepte de l’outillage du bâtiment : j’adore m’informer sur les innovations, les méthodes d’utilisation, les astuces ou les performances de chaque nouvel outil du marché, que ce soit en rapport avec le travail du bois ou non ! Je me ferai un plaisir de vous conseiller et de vous aider dans vos choix ! Bon bricolage ! 

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