Drill press cabinet

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Forum topic by WoodNube posted 08-04-2019 10:52 PM 516 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18 posts in 328 days

08-04-2019 10:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question cabinet drawers

Short version : Building my first cabinet, I want drawers in it. Is it better (from a “learning to do woodwork” point of view) to learn to make drawers with wooden slides, or drawers with store-bought ball bearing slides.

Long version :

I recently got a bargain deal on a small benchtop drill press. $25, new in the box. It’s a harbor freight special that someone never unboxed, but it’s better than the “no drill press” that I had before.

I want to build a cabinet for it to sit on, with caster wheels so it can easily move, and drawers. Storage is always an issue for me, and a row of fairly shallow drawers would be helpful.

This should also be a good learning project. I’m new to woodworking, I’ve never built a cabinet before, and I’ve never built drawers before. I’ve built several boxes or one kind or another, and drawers are mostly just a box. And so is a cabinet, I guess.

I’ve looked at several videos, but these two both seem to show something very similar to what I want, with very different methods of handling the drawers.

Steve Ramsey builds a cabinet here that looks very similar to what I want. His uses wood drawer slides.

And this one uses ball bearing slides.

Eventually, I probably need to make some cabinets each way, just for the experience. What I’m trying to figure out is which I should learn first.

11 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5571 posts in 2915 days

#1 posted 08-04-2019 11:12 PM

I think it is easier to make wooden slides for a beginner. One word of advice is to build the cabinet first then make each drawer to fit.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View bilyo's profile


910 posts in 1667 days

#2 posted 08-05-2019 01:09 AM

I think it is easier to make wooden slides for a beginner. One word of advice is to build the cabinet first then make each drawer to fit.

- bondogaposis

With respect, I don’t think it really matters. Whether you make wood slides or use roller or ballbearing slides, your casework and drawers will need to be accurately sized and square in order for them to work properly. In the end, I would decide based on the end use. If the drawers will be light duty, then wood slides will work just fine (that’s not to say they can’t carry heavy loads). If you will keep lots of rather heavy stuff in them, then you might prefer roller or ballbearing ones. As bondogaposis said, either way, make the case first.

View Lazyman's profile


4203 posts in 1951 days

#3 posted 08-05-2019 11:52 AM

For shop furniture, I found it easier to use mechanical slides than to make wooden ones. For me, they work better in a shop environment too. If you plan to make a chest of drawers or some other furniture in the future (i.e.; not for the shop), then use the opportunity to work through making those. Otherwise, I would go with metal ones. For a drill press cabinet, you probably don’t have to use the nice ones either. The plain old cheap ones that are often used for kitchen drawers work just fine on my DP cabinet. I actually deconstructed a desk for some of the materials and used the drawer slides that were on the desk for the drawers in the cabinet as well.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View therealSteveN's profile


4330 posts in 1138 days

#4 posted 08-05-2019 12:56 PM

Let me start by saying trying cabinets, drawers, and other parts of a drill press cabinet is just a great way to get your experience. So often we see people talking about springing right into a Queen Anne Hutch, or similar.

I think you want to imagine what your intended use will be. Your stating for a drill press cabinet, which I can only imagine would be filled with an accumulation of often heavy loads of drill bits, chuck keys, and maybe C clamps, and other heavier items.

With an increasingly heavy load, my choice wouldn’t be wooden slides, as these will no doubt prove unsatisfactory pulling open while heavily laden. A good quality ball bearing slide with a 100# load capacity would serve you much better.

Now if you make a smallish chest to put very small, lighter, lay out tools into, you could use wooden slides there to get experience making both types of slides, while still staying on shop furniture, where if they aren’t all pretty, it’s no big thing.

-- Think safe, be safe

View controlfreak's profile


345 posts in 165 days

#5 posted 08-05-2019 01:17 PM

This reminds me that I have my drill press and band saw on a folding work table and My shop is suffering from a lack of storage. Perhaps I will join you in this endeavor.

View zoro39's profile


21 posts in 204 days

#6 posted 08-05-2019 02:05 PM

The remarks by Lazyman and SteveN are right on!
As a beginner, you might want to think in terms of 2 choices: kitchen cabinetry or fine furniture. I have both in my workshop. When choosing cabinetry, I use HW plywood with iron on banding for the edges, baltic birch plywood for drawer sides and bottoms with metal slides. You would do well in building your dp cabinet like Lazymans.
Then there is fine woodworking. I recently completed a 15 draw set of drawers for the bottom of my 20 year project workbench. It is all solid wood Beech with Euro Pear Draw fronts with some holly inlay. Draw bottoms are quarter sawn white pine and the drawers slide on Ash runners.
The “kitchen cabinet” route is a learning exercise that will also give you a chance to try out finishing. Look at Mario Rodrigez article “make shellac your go to finish” and Chris Becksvorts Danish oil finish.


View MrRon's profile


5784 posts in 3808 days

#7 posted 08-05-2019 07:58 PM

Assuming you want to keep the cabinet, I would go with mechanical slides as they work much smoother on drawers. In fact, I wouldn’t use wood slides on anything, so I wouldn’t bother with them at all. There are lots of other things you can learn.

View LittleShaver's profile


600 posts in 1184 days

#8 posted 08-05-2019 08:28 PM

In direct contrast to MrRon, I’ve never used mechanical slides on anything. Woodworking is a hobby for me, not an occupation. Also, my wife claims I suffer from ‘male pattern cheapness’ so I’ve never wanted to spend the money for mechanical slides when wood works just as well for my needs. Wax or soap works well to keep wood slides moving easily. I have one drawer in my shop full of hammers and it has wood slides. Been working fine for 9 years so far. The drawer is made out of 1/2” CDX plywood from Lowes, but it is all dovetailed (I wanted to practice hand cut dovetails and what could be less forgiving than cheap plywood).

This is not a question with a “right” answer, do what you want to do and see how it works for you. Don’t fret too much, making shop furniture is where we learn.

-- Sawdust Maker

View WoodNube's profile


18 posts in 328 days

#9 posted 08-06-2019 10:48 PM

I guess it’s a coin flip. I’m sure I need to try both eventually, and answers here are pretty evenly mixed.

I’m still undecided on which way to go, but I certainly do appreciate the responses.

The only thing I’m sure of is that woodworking doesn’t come naturally to me, and I need to stay pretty basic, so I won’t be using dovetails for the drawers. I hope to work up to them sometime but I’m not ready just yet.

Thanks for your help.

View bilyo's profile


910 posts in 1667 days

#10 posted 08-06-2019 11:06 PM

IMO, probably the most forgiving is the cheap roller guides (not the ball bearing type) that just have a pair of wheels at each end. My suggestion would be to start with those; low cost and somewhat less construction accuracy needed.

View MrRon's profile


5784 posts in 3808 days

#11 posted 08-07-2019 07:42 PM

I have some heavy drawers in my workbench that have wood slides. I used them when I first built the bench 20 years ago. When the humidity is high, the drawers stick and are a bear to open/close. I use mechanical slides on all new projects. There are times when I can’t open a drawer at all. I left a generous 1/8” clearance on the slides, but they still stick. After hurricane Katrina, I was able to salvage some knock down kitchen cabinets along with ball bearing slides. I have about 20 sets of slides, so I’m not wanting.

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