Drawer stretchers/Drawer spreaders

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Forum topic by jsvenson11 posted 06-17-2018 06:40 AM 2283 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 1262 days

06-17-2018 06:40 AM

Topic tags/keywords: stretcher drawers cabinet design spreader drawer slides

I’ve built a few banks of cabinets and read a couple Bob Lang books. But I can’t figure out when drawer stretchers (aka spreaders) are necessary. In my next cabinet build, I’m using tandem blumotion slides. The cabinets are a hybrid face frame-frameless. The face frame you see in the picture will actually be flush with the inside of the cabinet. As I understand it, you can mount the blum slides to the side of the cabinet box so you don’t need a drawer stretcher or face frame at the front for mounting.

So, with respect to drawer stretchers, a few questions:

1) Is there any reason stretchers would be required in different types of cabinet construction methods but not others (face frame vs. frameless)?

2) Is the issue of whether stretchers are needed a matter of the cabinet width? I could see where they would add to the structural integrity and squareness of a 36” cabinet but might not be needed in a 24”

3) Why do you almost always see stretchers used in cabinets with a single drawer on top of doors?

I’d appreciate folks’ opinions for and against stretchers. It seems like you gain strength but loose a little drawer volume.

2 replies so far

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1786 posts in 2884 days

#1 posted 06-17-2018 02:12 PM

I build all my cabinets with face frames. It helps to eliminate the accuracy required if using inset doors and drawers. The “stretchers” you ask about are necessary to keep the uprights in place when building your cabinets and also provide stops for the doors or drawers without having the need to put stop devices on the doors or drawers. In other words, I hate inset or frameless cabinets. Surface mount doors and drawers are the way to go if you are in the business of building cabinets or furniture, but sometimes you have to build inset stuff. (I hate it!!)

What’s next is my own personal opinion and not an attack on your cabinet build. Your assembly looks to be uniform with all the gaps you need to have everything work and open properly.

I would have the bottom rail (stretcher) butt into the right side stile instead of it (stile) sitting on the bottom rail (stretcher). The middle stile should be sitting on the bottom rail instead of how you did it. I also would have put a top rail (stretcher) on it matching the bottom rail (stretcher). The smaller drawers look pretty good, but the one next to the bottom looks smaller than the others. The larger drawers would look better with the largest drawer on the bottom. Other than that, the cabinet you posted looks pretty good and should serve you well for many years. ................. Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

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16 posts in 1262 days

#2 posted 06-17-2018 07:02 PM


Much appreciated. I take it then that the stretchers are not critically but may make the assembly and alignment a little easier for inset cabinets. I’ve also read that stretchers can add a little structural integrity if you have a heavy countertop and keep the cabinet sides from bowing.

Regarding the drawers, I think you’re right. I’ll fix that as I keep going through the design and post some more pictures once everything is in its place.

We went back and forth between doing full overlay shaker on a face frame vs. doing inset “slab” style doors. Ultimately, we decided on inset slabs because we like the style. I agree that they are more difficult (and annoying) to build. We’ll be using MDF core plywood for the doors due to large seasonal humidity variations in Alaska. That should keep them flat and avoid expansion issues somewhat.

I completely agree with your comments on the stiles and rails. That was an oversight on my part. The middle stile should be sitting on top of the bottom stretcher/rail and the bottom stretcher/rail should be butting into the right stile. That’s the arrangement I had elsewhere.

PS the cholla vase on your site is great!

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