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Drawer guides, runners, or just a piston fit?

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Forum topic by 1tacoshort posted 02-25-2021 08:21 AM 552 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1tacoshort

69 posts in 1929 days


02-25-2021 08:21 AM

I’m designing an arts and crafts chest of drawers (my first chest of drawers of any kind) and I’m wondering about how to articulate the drawers in and out of the chest. Stickley seems to prefer a groove in the side of the drawer that runs on drawer guides. Rob Cosman just carefully fits the drawer to its hole. Others prefer drawers resting on guides running down the center of the drawer. I can’t seem to find a discussion that compares and contrasts the methods. I’m assuming that Stickley went with something that could be built in a production environment while Rob Cosman is trying for a more custom-built craftsmanship approach.

Thoughts? Guidance? Thanks!

-- Wade


13 replies so far

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Robert

4519 posts in 2531 days


#1 posted 02-25-2021 12:00 PM

Either way, but for larger drawers I usually go with traditional runners and kickers.

From what I know groove and dado guides are used in machinist toolboxes like Kennedy’s. I have done them and they work well.

I would avoid center guides.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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CWWoodworking

1657 posts in 1229 days


#2 posted 02-25-2021 01:02 PM

Out of those, I would choose center guide with tilt rail. I think they work more smoothly than the others.

If you want real function, Blum undermounts soft close. All of the wood options suck compared to these.

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

17233 posts in 2189 days


#3 posted 02-25-2021 01:07 PM

It depends very much on the size of the drawers. I typically use UHMW rails in the case and dados on the drawer to run on them. If the drawers are pretty small, you can get away with no guides if you want (I always prefer guides personally). On larger drawers, I’d go with manufactured hardware.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

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SMP

3772 posts in 956 days


#4 posted 02-25-2021 03:11 PM

Depends on how much frustration you(or the wife/girlfriend) can tolerate when trying to get socks/underwear out in the morning before coffee.

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Wood_Scraps

106 posts in 69 days


#5 posted 02-25-2021 04:52 PM

Plenty of viable options. Not sure there’s an definitive “best” solution. More so driven by a combination of application, preference, budget, and time/effort.

Full disclosure, I’m a neophyte when it comes to building furniture. Just about done wrapping up a dresser for my 4 year old’s room. Didn’t want to spend a fortune on manufactured hardware. Wanted to keep the look and feel natural. But didn’t have much experience making my own.

Thought about it for a while. Looked around online. Ultimately got a little creative and am actually very happy (so far), with how they turned out.

Opted to kind of blaze my own trail. But with the general rails on the case and runners on the drawer approach (frankly not even sure if the nomenclature is correct). To do this, My rails were single pieces of 1.5” wood (pine) with a shallow v-groove cut down the center on my table saw. For the runners, I used some pre-made half round (also pine), brad nailed to the drawers (I’ll likely affix them more permanently at the end of the project, once I’m satisfied).

I also added a strip of UHMW tape to the bottom portion of the v-notch on each rail. They already slid quite smoothly without the UHMW. But with it added, they’re buttery smooth.

As somewhat of an unplanned afterthought, I added a very small segment of the half round to the back of each drawer. Positioned slightly below the rail. So that it doesn’t really make contact with the rail until the drawer is fully extended. I’ve found it serves almost as a bit of a subtle stop. But my intent was for it to further reduce the “droop” you find with these type of guides. Which, frankly, was already very small.

Again, I am FAR from an esteemed woodworker. The larger point being that you have plenty of options. With pros and cons to each. I’ve attached a few pics to help visualize the path I took. Go easy on me, pros. Lol.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

6925 posts in 2438 days


#6 posted 02-25-2021 05:11 PM

John Heisz released a video recently about making full extension drawer glides from wood. Appears to work pretty well, fairly simple to make and much cheaper than buying them. Sort of a combination between old and new and may be a good idea if you have more time than money.

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

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Madmark2

2487 posts in 1639 days


#7 posted 02-25-2021 05:33 PM

I like to make “no metal” furniture. Hence no slides, just guides.

However one of my pet peeves is pulling on a drawer and having it pop out, dumping the contents on the floor.

To prevent this I mount the rear of the drawer box up 1/2”. This both allows me to slide the drawer bottom in after the drawer box is assembled and to keep the drawer from falling out. The raised back acts as a stop when the drawer is fully opened keeping it in the carcass.

The drawer front has to be rotated up for the drawer back to unhook and come out.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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Aj2

3753 posts in 2848 days


#8 posted 02-25-2021 06:01 PM

When a drawer is wider then it is deep. Use a center guide it functions better.
I don’t like tight fitting drawers I’ve made drawers too tight and when there’s days and days of rain they are nearly impossible to open.
Good Luck

-- Aj

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Wood_Scraps

106 posts in 69 days


#9 posted 02-25-2021 07:15 PM



When a drawer is wider then it is deep. Use a center guide it functions better. I don’t like tight fitting drawers I’ve made drawers too tight and when there’s days and days of rain they are nearly impossible to open.
Good Luck

- Aj2

#Truth

Nothing worse than a drawer that feels like it’s welded itself to the frame. Got some older furniture from my Grandma’s home that’s like that.

My aversion to sticky drawers is part of the reason I got creative with my half-round and v-groove solution. They’ve got enough room to expand/contract a little and still function without frustration. As the drawers basically just glide across the bottom portion of the v-groove.

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Madmark2

2487 posts in 1639 days


#10 posted 02-26-2021 01:22 AM

Picture goes with previous post …


Drawer fully opened and not falling out without hardware.


Closed, all jatoba with Tito’s green marble insert.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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1tacoshort

69 posts in 1929 days


#11 posted 02-28-2021 04:51 AM

Thanks, everyone! It looks like a piston-fit drawer with classic runners and kickers is the winner by a narrow margin (but one more vote for center rails and it’s a tie).

-- Wade

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therealSteveN

7463 posts in 1625 days


#12 posted 02-28-2021 05:07 AM



It depends very much on the size of the drawers.
- HokieKen

I would add to that also what you plan to keep in them.

A huge difference in all aspects of construction, and travel system between a sock drawer, and the one you want to keep all your Gold Krugerrands in. Well, at least if you have a couple of thousand of them anyhow.

IOW, weight of the load is a consideration.

-- Think safe, be safe

View 1tacoshort's profile

1tacoshort

69 posts in 1929 days


#13 posted 02-28-2021 05:10 AM

So, what are the trade-offs of the various drawer mechanisms for size and load?

-- Wade

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