Let’s be honest, the inner workings of the drawers in your furniture probably never crossed your mind. But that’s not to say it isn’t important.
Today, we’re here to talk about drawer slides – the wood or metal rails that allow your drawers to open and close. Although built to be discreet guides for your furniture, they play an integral role in overall function and can determine the durability and lifespan of your furniture.
Here’s what you need to know:
Drawer slides can be constructed from either wood or metal:
You’re more likely to find wood drawer slides on finely crafted antique furniture. Wood slides are an indicator of skilled wood joinery and an intimate understanding of lumbar. Metal drawer slides have taken the forefront as the primary material for drawers, due to their durability.
Although wood slides show craftsmanship, they are prone to wear and swelling over time. Changes in weather humidity tend to affect the shape of the wood, causing eventual deterioration. Metal slides are immune to seasonal changes and are easier to install than their wooden counterparts.
There are two types of slides you’ll notice on your drawers:
First, you’ll notice the mount. This is the slide that supports the weight of the drawer (as well as the drawer’s contents). Mounts are located underneath the drawer and can be found as either side-mounts, center mounts or undermounts.
Side-mounts are attached to each side of the drawer. A center-mount is a single slide located in the center of the bottom of the drawer. Undermounts come in pairs and are placed on each side of the bottom of the drawer. The mount present on your drawer was determined based on the amount of space needed between the drawer and its cabinet.
Second, you’ll find extensions. These are the slides that determine how far the drawer will open. The drawers in your furniture may have either ¾ extension, full extension or over-travel extension slides.
¾ extension slides keep a portion of the drawer within its cabinet or chest, allowing it to only extend ¾ of the way. Full-extension slides allow the drawer to open completely and as far as the extension will go, creating full access. Over-travel extension slides will open beyond the length of the extension for complete access to the drawer and inner cabinet. The extension chosen for your drawer was determined based on the weight the drawer is intended to hold.
Drawer slides will move using roller or ball bearing guides:
Both can be found in any drawer slide, and their presence depends on the intended function of the drawer plus the amount of weight they are meant to hold. Roller bearings consist of small cylindrical rollers that use reduced friction to glide back and forth. A ball bearing uses a ball that sits between a wheel and axle, separating the two and resulting in a gliding motion.
There you have it - a quick, informational guide to drawer slides! Hopefully, as you shop for furniture, your increased knowledge will help you make informed buying decisions.