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Cabinet Drawer Slide Guide

We’ve all likely experienced the frustration of a cabinet drawer being jammed, difficult to open, or even derailing off its tracks. This experience is exactly why choosing the right drawer slide is imperative for a successful furniture or cabinet project. And when it comes to choosing between drawer slides, you’re faced with tons of options. This makes choosing the right slide for your project a challenge in and of itself! Not to worry though; as all of us at Woodworkers Hardware prepared this guide to help you figure out what features and types of drawer slides are best-suited for your needs. Once you’re ready to order, be sure to check out our entire cabinet drawer slide selection for a variety of extensions, load ratings and more. 

Note: Load ratings (load baring capacity) is the maximum load per slide pair. This is determined by strict, independent testing conducted by each manufacturer. 

Types of Drawer Slides

While you still may find “old school” wooden drawer runners or plastic drawer guides available, almost all modern drawer slides operate on nylon rollers or steel ball bearings and have a host of options such as self-closing, soft-closing and even electric-assist drawer opening. Below are some of the most common types of drawer slides.

Nylon Roller – These are typically used in conjunction with epoxy-coated steel drawer slide members. They provide a very smooth, quiet movement and are usually less expensive than ball bearing drawer slides. They usually have a weight rating of 75 lbs. or more. 

Steel Ball Bearing – Often called precision ball bearing slides, these slides offer a superior fit and feel compared to standard nylon rollers slides. The outward and inward movement of the slide either telescopic or progressive and will handle much heavier loads than nylon roller slides; even up to 200 lbs. Certain steel ball bearings slides, such as ones used in industrial applications can hold up to 500 lbs. in heavy file drawers. 

Soft-Close – Soft-Close is easily the most popular type of drawer slide in the industry. Soft-closing drawer slides do an excellent job of protecting the drawer from damage commonly caused by closing it too fast. Using hydraulic dampeners, these types of slides not only increase the life of cabinets and furniture, but they also help reduce noise. These slides’ shock absorbing functionality make them the ideal choice for rooms like kitchens and offices. For more detailed information, check out this year’s best-selling soft close drawer slide: the Blum Tandem Full Ext. B563H Series.

Drawer Slide Mounting Options

Side Mount - These slides are attached to the sides of your cabinet and also the sides of your drawer boxes. Side mount slides are currently the most common mounting option and are found in many types of cabinets and furniture. 

Undermount – The drawer members of undermount slides are installed underneath the drawers, making them invisible when extended. These types of slides are quickly becoming the standard for more high-end kitchen cabinets as they don’t interfere with the beauty of finely crafted, dove-tailed wooden drawers. 

Slide Extension Options

3/4 Extension - These slides extend approximately 3/4 of the overall length of the slide and are common of most nylon roller slides. They are typically used in entry-level cabinets and furniture.

Full Extension – Occasionally referred to as “full access”, these slides extend the entire length from the cabinet, giving accessibility to the entire contents of the drawer. Full extension slides are becoming very popular in kitchen cabinets and are standard on most office furniture and institutional cabinets. 

Overtravel – These slides extend 1” or 1-1/2” beyond a full extension slide and are designed to be used in situations where the extended lip of a countertop or desk interferes with the access to the back of the drawer. Overtravels are most popular for use in file drawers. 

Optional Features

Soft-Close – As discussed in the “Types of Drawer Slides” section, these slides use a hydraulic cylinder or other mechanism to engage the drawer as it closes, dampening the closing motion and pulling the drawer fully closed. 

Self-Closing – Drawers with self-closing slides fully close on their own, no effort required! The nylon rollers slides form a ramp into the cabinet and its drawer members so that gravity closes the drawer rather than a push. Self-closing precision ball bearing slides use spring mechanisms incorporated into the slide, which will pull the drawer fully closed. 

Lock-Out – Locks a drawer or work surface in the out position. These are popular for keyboard desks and kitchen work surfaces that pull out of a cabinet. 

Stay-Close – These slides have extra holding power in the closed position. They work especially well with rolling carts, such as in healthcare facilities or cabinets in RV’s. 

Servo-Drive – This is an electronic drawer opening device that will open drawers with just a light push on the front of the drawer. Servo-Drives are perfect for contemporary, flat panel cabinets designed without knobs or pulls. 

Need additional guidance? Feel free to email or call our hardware experts for more information.