Reworking Our Cabinet Drawers

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One of the current projects going down in our house is repainting our kitchen cabinets. This project has been in the works for months and months. So far we have stripped the old paint from the cabinets, added window trim and painted a subway tile backsplash. Some days I wonder if we will ever finish… don’t worry we will!!!

The next thing on the list I needed to complete before painting the cabinets was redoing our old wooden drawer slides. Our drawers in the kitchen are solid wood and they are HEAVY… Over time they have worn the old wooden sliders down, making them hard to shut/open and in some cases making the drawer not close completely.

replace wooden slides with metal slides

In the picture above the wood has been worn down and in the picture below it was rubbing on the bottom of the drawer creating a groove.


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These wooden slides have held up really well and we debated on just added new wood but we decided that these cabinets are not getting replaced, so we should update to metal sliders. A couple of problems: our drawers are heavy and we did not want to lose a lot of storage space to have the new slides. After some research we found the Undermount Blumotion Drawer Slides, that even fit our 3/4″ drawer sides. These bad boys are supposed to be one of the best undermount slides that can hold a lot of weight. The downside is that they are pricey, we found them at for a cheaper price. So we ordered 7 sliders (we bought two sizes 18″ & 21″) plus we purchased the “R” and “L” locking devices.

Now the fun part rebuilding the drawers… it really was not fun but not to bad. First thing first was breaking down the drawers. Lucky us, whoever made the drawers really did not want them coming apart. But with a hammer and pliers, we made it work.

fixing old wooden cabinet drawers

First I labeled the drawer pieces as drawer 1, 2, 3, etc… I did not worry about what piece was a side, back, or front because it was easy to tell. Then I checked to see where the nails were holding the drawer together. I used the hammer to start pushing the wood away from each other, being careful not to break the wood. The front panel was easier to remove than the back pieces. Look at the helper I had… he loves using a hammer.

adding metal slides to wooden drawers


Sometimes the hammer could not remove the nail, this is where the pliers come into play. I used the pliers to pull the nail through the wood.



Like I said before the back of the drawer was harder to breakdown because the nails were going into the wood two different ways. I wiggled the boards to make them loose and sometimes it would wiggle a nail out. But in the end I did have to rip some of the nails out of the wood. Now we are ready to cut the boards down to the right size to fit into the cabinet with Blumotion drawer slides. But before cutting, I measured all the drawer openings in the cabinet and wrote them down on a piece of paper.

So to grandma’s house we go to use grandpa’s table saw. That’s right you will need a table saw. After getting to their house and finding the space in the garage to work. It’s a joke in our family because their garage has piles of tools/stuff everywhere that their cars do not fit into the garage.


After studying the diagram on how the drawer will fit into the cabinet, the space needed around the sides, we were ready to cut. Here is the diagram from Blumotion:


But before I wanted to share how I cut our drawer front in a diagram because I hope this will help someone else by making it a little easier.

add-blumotion-drawer-slidesFor my drawer fronts, I have an overhang of 3/8″ on all sides because my cabinet doors are 3/8″ inset.

add blumotion drawer slides

Something I found easier was cutting the drawer front first. So lets start with the front of the drawer first. To give the groove (called a dado) we needed to adjust the blade to the right height. TIP: You could also use a router to create the dado but a table saw works too. To find the right height, I placed the old dado onto the blade and adjusted the height until the wood was flush with the table of the saw. You could as measure the blade until it was the right height but I found this method to be just as easy.

add dato to wood

Next I adjusted the rip fence to give me the one side of the dado. A dado is 1/4″, the width of the saw blade is 1/8″, so two blade cuts right by each other will give you a dado. For my drawer fronts, I adjusted the rip fence 1.5″ away from the blade. Then I cut the groove into all my drawer fronts, making sure to cut the right side of the wood (the side that already had the dado). TIP: You could use a scrap board to test your cut first, this way you know your cut is correct.

After cutting all the drawer fronts, I adjusted the rip fence 1/8″, so for my drawer it was 1-5/8″ away from the blade. And again I cut all my drawer fronts. Then I cut off the needed amount to make my drawer front sides fit the diagram provided. I left the height of the blade the same to do this step. Here is my drawer front after cutting, the thin strip of wood can break off or can be cut off with a razor blade.


After all the drawer fronts were made, I moved the blade height so it could cut straight through the wood. Taking the drawer front, I measured the distance from the top inside groove to the new dado (the diagram shows this measurement). This will give me the height of the other drawer pieces (sides and back) and remember every drawer could be different. To find what to cut from the wood, I measured one of the side pieces from the top of the board to the dado. Then I subtracted this amount from the amount of the drawer front, this is the amount to cut from the tops of the other drawer pieces. TIP: This will let you not cut a new dado on all the other pieces and it does not matter if the dado is not 1/2″ away from the bottom but it cannot be more than 1/2″.


After adjusting the height on all the drawer pieces. I then cut the back piece and side pieces to the size they needed to be. I forgot to cut the side pieces to the right length and this gave me issues later on, so save yourself the trouble and cut them before you have the drawer assembled… but I will be showing how to fix this problem in another post about installing the sliders to the drawer. Next I cut the bottom of the drawer to the new width and length. Make sure you check to make sure each drawer fits back together and is the size you need.

Once everything was cut, I was ready to sand everything with 220 grit sandpaper to give it a smooth finish.

Anyone else reworking their kitchen to make it more functional? Or do you want to?

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