How to Install Drawer Slides?

Drawer Slides Installation Guide

Installation of drawer slides will vary slightly depending on the style and options of your selected draw slides. Some drawer slides that you purchase may come with a installation guide, like this one, but if not, there are some simple steps you can follow to install any drawer slides. Luckily, the installation of the two most common types of drawer slides, Roller Slides and Ball-Bearing Slides, are quite similar and you can use this guide to install either of them.

Installing The Cabinet Member

This guide is going to assume that you have selected drawer slides that will fit into your design, if you’re unsure about what to consider or are confused by what I am talking about check out this Drawer Slide 101 blog to learn more.

Step 0: Separate Cabinet and Drawer Members

This is called step 0 because it is not required or possible depending on the type and style of your drawer slides. All drawer slides will consist of at least two components, the cabinet member and the drawer member. As their names suggest, cabinet members mount to a stable or grounded component, i.e. the cabinet, and the drawer member attaches to the moving component, i.e. the drawer. For roller slides, the two members will most likely be separate when you purchase them. If not, you simply slide the drawer member forward until fully extended and pop the drawer roller over the roller of the cabinet member. For ball-bearing slides, they will have a third intermediate (slide) member that will stay connect to the cabinet member. If there is a release lever, like shown below, between intermediate member and the drawer member, they can be separated by pushing the lever and pulling forward. If the release lever is the on the right-hand side of the cabinet, you will need to push downwards to release, if on the left-hand side, you will need to push upwards to release. Not all ball-bearing slides will have release levers and if not, they cannot be separated.

Components of a Drawer Slide

It is important to separate the cabinet member and the drawer member, if possible, as it will make the rest of the install easier.

Step 1: Install Cabinet Member

Regardless of the type and style of your drawer slide, you will want to install the cabinet member first. Depending on your mounting configuration, place and align the cabinet member inside your cabinet or stable component. You’ll need to ensure that your set of drawer slides are level and parallel by ensuring that the distance from the edge of the cabinet to the edge of the slide is the same for both drawer slides and by using a level.

If you are planning to have overlay drawer fronts, which are drawers with fronts that overlap the sides of the cabinet, you should align the front of the cabinet member with the front edge of the cabinet. If you want to insert drawer fronts, which are drawers that have their front insert inside of the cabinet, you should setback the front of the cabinet member by the thickness of the drawer front.

Aligning Cabinet Member for Overlay Fronts

Once you have the cabinet member aligned with your cabinet, fasten it to the cabinet by using your fasteners of choice into the recommend holes of the cabinet member. Typically, you want to fasten your cabinet member using at least three holes/slots. If your cabinet member has at least two slotted holes for mounting, like below, there are used to allow for adjustment at the end of the install. For the cabinet, you will usually use the horizonal slots for depth adjustments. If you want to make use of these slots for adjustments later, only fasten the cabinet member using two fasteners at this point.

 Slotted Mount Holes 

If you plan to use bolts to fastener your drawer slide, you will need to pre-drill your bolt holes. You can do this by aligning the cabinet member inside the cabinet, mark the where the mounting slots are, then drilling the holes using the proper size drill bit.

NOTE: If you are using either releasing or non-releasing ball-bearing slides, you will need to slide the intermediate member back and forward to expose the sections of cabinet member for mounting. Once mounted, the intermediate member should slide smoothly over the attached cabinet member. 

Step 2: Install Drawer Member

To install the drawer member for a releasing ball-bearing slide and a roller slide, you simply align the front of the drawer member to the front of the drawer. Again, you will want to ensure that both drawer members are level and parallel, but also that they are properly aligned with your cabinet members to allow for the drawer to fit with your cabinet. Once aligned, fasten it to the cabinet using your fasteners of choice into the recommend slots. Just like the cabinet member, slotted holes are used to allow for adjustments at the end of the process. For the drawer member, you usually will use the vertical slots to allow for a height adjustment.

Aligning Drawer Member to Drawer

For non-releasing ball-bearing slides, it will be recommended to have a second pair of hands or a support in place to hold the drawer in place while you mount it to the drawer slides. As you cannot remove the drawer member, you’ll have to have the slide fully extended to mount the drawer to each slide. Once done, you can simply push your drawer closed.

Step 3: Insert Drawer & Adjustments

Once all members are attached, you can insert the drawer into the cabinet. For roller slides, you’ll need to roll the drawer roller over the cabinet roller to position the drawer in place. For releasing ball-bearing slides, simply insert the drawer member into the intermediate member and push close. The release lever will lock as the drawer closes.

Completed drawer slide Installation

If you used slotted mounting holes to begin with, you can now make adjustments to the position of the drawer slide if needed. Typically, the cabinet member will have horizontal slots to adjust the depth of the drawer, while the drawer member will have vertical slots to adjust the height of the draw slide.

Once all adjustments are made, you will now want to fasten each member using third mounting hole, if not done all ready. You may also want to replace some of your screws and nuts to locking ones to improve stability. It is recommended that when supporting heavy loads, at least two locking screws are used per member.

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