Build and Install Drawers in Your Kitchen Cabinet
Putting on a New Face: More Work, but More Freedom
Replacing the cabinet face gives you more control over size or shape, at the cost of more work. If you're interested in this option, build the drawers as described here, and get further instruction on how to build the cabinet face.
Kitchen cabinets are constructed in two ways. In “face frame,” as shown here, a frame surrounds the cabinet doors and drawers. In “full-flush,” only the edge of plywood or particle board is visible. A face frame decorates the cabinet front, but narrows the opening. Full-flush construction offers more space inside the cabinets, but the drawer fronts and doors must be cut and mounted even more accurately, because there's only 3⁄4" of room on the front of the frame. Cabinet construction determines many details about drawer installation.
Step 2: Make the “Sleds”
Drawers have a reputation as uncompromising critters, and no question accuracy is necessary, especially in aligning the drawers with the drawer slides—the hardware that lets the drawers move in and out.
This design uses a time-saving trick for perfect alignment. Instead of screwing the slides inside the cabinet—a dodgy, error-prone step—each drawer mounts to what I call a “sled.” Attach the drawer slides to the sled, and then screw the sled to the cabinet. The sled does reduce the width of the drawers, but it also lets you install drawers in places that now lack wood to support the slides.
Make the sleds as wide as possible. In full-flush cabinets, they should touch the cabinet sides. In face-frame cabinets, the inside of the sled side goes flush to the drawer opening. If the face frame is too narrow for that, place the sled against the cabinet side.
Make the sleds about 3" shallower than the cabinet, to avoid hitting obstructions at the back, and to save a bit of wood.
Because this project was built to last, with heavy, strong drawers, I used full-extension drawer slides. These slides are not cheap, but they can carry 75 pounds or more. Although your cabinets are probably 24" deep, an 18" slide allows access to the entire drawer.
To make the sleds, cut the sled parts. With the sled upside down, fasten the bottom to the sides, and glue with yellow carpenter's glue.
Turn the sled over and clamp a spacer while the glue dries.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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