August 28. 2004
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Hardwood Drawer Slides

This page details how to make my hardwood drawer slides. If you plan on using these slides in your own projects then there are a few design points you need to keep in mind when you make your drawers and case. Your drawer fronts will need to be either overlay or rabbeted style. Another option would be to make drawers like I made for my entertainment center: the drawer front fits flush in the opening but the drawer sides are set in 7/16". Regardless of which style of drawer you use your drawers will need to be 7/8" narrower than your openings in your case. You should also have the inside of your case flush with your faceframe or just use frameless construction. My entertainment center did not have flush insides so I had to make shims out of scrap plywood which I mounted inside the case. The only tools you will need to make these slides is a tablesaw with a good clean, sharp carbide blade and a table mounted router with a straight bit and a router fence. has a jig I built for some of the milling steps on these slides. The use of which greatly improves the safety of some of the cuts since you will need to remove any blade guard and splitter from your saw for some cuts. For slide stock you could use any hardwood. My favorites are black walnut, poplar, and maple. I have not tried to use red oak due to it's tendency to chip out and the rather open grain nature, but it might work.

Either plane some stock to 7/16" thickness or resaw 8/4 stock with your saw. I resaw. You will need two pieces for each side of each drawer or four per drawer. The width of each lower slide is not critical as long as it is wide enough to suport the drawer. Small light drawers require less width in slides than big heavy drawers. The ones I made for my entertainment center are 1 7/8" finished width; the drawers themselves are 19" long, 17" wide and 7" tall. Loaded they weigh about 20 pounds each.


After milling your slides set aside the uppers, which by the way do not need to be as wide as the lowers but you can make them any width that suits your desires. Mine are only 1" wide regardless of which project I've used these slides on. Chuck up a straight cutting bit in your table mounted router, set depth of cut to 5/16" and expose 7/32" of the bit out of the fence. Mill the lowers buy running them along the fence on edge so that they look like the pictures below. After you have milled the rabbets in the lower slides you might want to mill the stopped rabbets in the uppers. Directions are towards the end of this page. These two pictures can be enlarged by a left mouse click.

Notice that in the right picture you have pairs of lower slides. Right and left are mirror images of each other. With this in mind you need to set up your table saw to cut a notch into each slide 1" from one end and 1 1/4" from the other end 9/16" deep. You should attach a guage block to your rip fence as in the picture to the left, just be sure that it is in front of the blade, so that once the wood contacts the blade it does not touch the rip fence which could create a serious kickback. Then lower your saw blade to 5/16" and notch each slide 3/4" from one end. This picture, left, was retaken for clarity; you can cut all of yours at once by stacking them like shown in the picture above right but you might need to remove the splitter and guard.

Once you have cut the notches you will need to cut from notch to notch(the 9/16" deep ones) by attaching them in your jig referenced above and carefuly lowering the jig, with a slide mounted, onto the spinning blade on your tablesaw. To set up for this cut raise your blade until it is above the slide mounted in the jig by about one tooth gullet. Slide your fence over against the blade and transfer pencil lines onto your fence where the blade projects above your jig without a slide in place. Make two marks, one at the front of the blade and one at the rear. Start your saw, carefully line up the kerf with the back pencil line, carefully push straight down and cut until the other kerf hits the front pencil line. Turn off your saw while holding the jig in place. Once the blade stops spinning it will be safe to remove the jig, to do so while it is moving is to risk a kickback. See the next four pictures:

fence lines starting cut
slidemounted in jig finish of cut

after removed from jigThe picture at left shows what they will look like after you have cut between the kerfs. You will need to finish the cuts with a hand saw or jig saw. Clean up any saw marks carefully with a sharp chisel.



nibble away remove tab

Next lower your sawblade to 5/16" and nibble away to remove the wood to the kerf you made above so as to leave just a 3/4" tab on one end of each slide. Then lay the slide flat on your saw and remove the whole tab on the other end of each slide.

finished as milled.You now need to make stopped rabbets in your uppers 5/16" x 5/16" leaving at least 2 1/2" uncut at one end. Keep in mind that you will need rights and lefts as shown in the picture at left. Then you will need to make some peg stock 3/16" thick 1 1/4" to 2" wide with the edges rounded over. You will be cutting these to be 7/16" + half the thickness of your drawer sides (for example if youare using 1/2" baltic birch plywood for your drawer sides, your pegs will need to be 1 1/2" long by 11/16" wide by 3/16" thick.) Click on the picture at left to enlarge.

To the right is a measured picture of what one lower slide looks like. measured picture

big drawerHere is a picture of the peg as inletted into the drawer side.



Final steps: lightly sand all slides to remove all of the sharp corners. Set the lower slides into the case, shimming up with the thickness of two playing cards. Mount the uppers with wood screws in pre drilled holes capturing the lower slide (rabbet to the inside.) Fully extend slides and set drawer into case so that the back is flush with the front of the case and carefully mark the locations for the pegs. Remove the drawers to your workbench and mortise for the pegs and glue into the drawersides as shown in the above side view leaving a hair less than 7/16" proud of the drawer side. Hardwood hand screws will work to hold these pegs in place until your glue dries.