When you start any project where you plan to use drawer slides, one of the first questions you’ll ask yourself is “What size of drawer slides do I need?”. Or maybe you’ll ask yourself “Do these drawer slides provide me with the extension I need?”. Well, this blog post will help you answer those questions and help you find the right drawer slides you need for your next project. This blog will assume you know the basics of drawer slides, but if you don’t why not check out our Drawer Slides 101 post to learn more.
Guide Rail Length
The guide rail length, also called stroke length, is how far the drawer slide will extend from fully retracted to fully extended. Guide rail length is the specification you will used to determine whether or not your drawer slides provide you with the extension you need for your project. This specification will also determine the total extended length and fully retracted length of your drawer slide. Generally speaking, guide rail length will be equal to your fully retracted length, give or take half an inch, and be equal to half of your total length, again give or take half an inch. This is important to note as the components of the drawer slides will need enough space in your design to safely be mounted and may limit the extension you can use. For example, you would not be able to use a drawer slide with a guide rail length of 30” inside a cabinet that is only 20” deep as you won’t have enough space to safely mount the cabinet member of the drawer slide to the cabinet as it will be roughly 30” long. Typically available guide rail lengths vary based on the type of drawer slide, but if you looking for extensions greater than 20”, you’ll want to go with ball-bearing drawer slides which come with additional benefits too.
Determining Extension Needed
Now that you know what to look for, how do you know what you need? Well this can be pretty straight forward for most applications, it is just simply how far you need to extend. Although if you are reading this, you’re probably looking for an answer to “How far of an extension do I need?” and that will depend based on your design and application. For most cabinet drawer like applications, you will want to easily be able access the entire drawer when opened, which will mean you’ll want to be able to extend the entire depth of the drawer. To accomplish this, you’ll want a guide rail length to be as long as your drawer, although in practice it will probably be slightly smaller. For more unique applications of drawer slides, the guide rail length you require will depend on your application and needs but will probably boil down to how far do you require your design to extend or retract. As mention above, the guide rail length will also determine the other physical dimensions of the drawer slide and will limit the size of a suitable drawer slide. This is probably less important for typical cabinet drawers but may have larger impact on more custom applications.