Installing Drawer Fronts

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Blog entry by EarlS posted 03-31-2017 12:14 AM 1634 reads 2 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been building closet shelf organizers lately. I pre-built and finished all of the components before I started installation. This approach lends itself to an easier installation and a lot less heavy lifting.

Once the basic cabinet is installed, insert the drawer boxes and start installing the fronts.

All of my drawer boxes are 3/4” maple with through dovetails. I use 75# full extension ball bearing slides. The drawer box is 3/4” shorter than the opening between the drawer spacers in the cabinet. I also pre-drill 6-8 pilot holes around the perimeter of the front face of the box to use when I attach the front to the drawer box.

After sliding all of the drawers onto the slides and checking their fit and the smoothness of the slides, start with the bottom drawer. Cut a spacer that is the same height as the kick plate (in this case 2”). Check to make sure it is just snug when slid under the bottom edge of the drawer box.

The bottom drawer is pulled out far enough to get a clamp on the front.

Also clamp a couple of strips to the sides of the cabinet to use as guides for the drawer front.

Slide the drawer front between the guide strips on the sides and make sure it rests on the spacer that is placed on the floor just in front of the drawer box. Clamp the front to the drawer box using 2 clamps.

Check level and check the sides and bottom for fit, then use cabinet screws to attach the drawer front to the box using the pilot holes that were drilled previously. I usually use 1 1/4” cabinet screws so that the screw is 1/2” into the front.

Remove the clamps, guide strips and spacer that is under the drawer front. Close the drawer and check to make sure the drawer front lines up with the sides.

This is a good time to explain how to size and cut the drawer fronts. They should be the same width as the cabinet. These drawer fronts were 25-3/4” since the cabinet was 24” wide on the inside. When I drew up the initial design, all of the drawer heights were in rounded to the nearest inch, 4 at 8” and 1 at 10”. When I cut them, I took off 1/8” for the space between the drawers.

I also cut a 1/8 spacer strip to use as spacer between the drawer fronts.

A word of caution:I was off by 5/32” on the first set of drawers since I didn’t cut my spacer for the floor 5/32 taller to account for the thinner size of the 1/2” plywood I used as partitions between the drawers. Don’t neglect small differences, when they start stacking up they do affect things

While I’m at it, here are some details for the drawer boxes and slides.

The drawer slides provide a diagram and instructions for the required spacing for the sides (1/2”) and clearance on the bottom. I used a 1/4” piece plywood as a spacer and guide when installing the outside slide pieces on the cabinet sides. When it came time to install the slides on the sides of the drawer, I made a test piece to replicate a drawer side, installed the slide on it and checked the slide operation out before making a template for installing the slides on the sides of the drawer boxes.

Back to installation: Re-clamp the guide strips for the next drawer. Lay a spacer strip on top of the drawer front that was just completed. The lower drawer needs to be pulled out far enough that the drawer being worked on is open far enough to get clamps in it.

Set the drawer front on top of the spacer and clamp it to the drawer box. Check the side guides and the spacer to ensure that everything fits without being too tight, especially the spacer. The drawer fronts have a tendency to pinch the spacer. Loosen the clamp and adjust so the drawer front is resting on the spacer but the spacer can be slid out and back in.

Using cabinet screws, attach the drawer front to the drawer box. Remove the spacers, guides, and check the clearance between the top of the lower drawer and the bottom of the drawer. It should be. 1/8”.

Repeat the process for the rest of the drawers.

I also pre-drilled pilot holes in the drawer fronts for the handles. I drilled them through the drawer box, installed the handles for a finished set of drawers.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

1 comment so far

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19 posts in 1734 days

#1 posted 03-31-2017 04:49 PM

I just built my first drawer and had a devil of a time measuring the width to properly attach to the drawer slides. Looking at yours, I appreciate what you built. Kudos. Those are beautiful. And improving home resale value!

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