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Adding Roll Out Drawers To Existing Cabinetry

December 10th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Throughout the years, adding roll-out drawers to existing kitchen cabinets, vanity, or laundry rooms, has been a rather lucrative venture. Every cabinet design presents a different method of fabrication and installation to make these drawers work properly. This is a wonderful feature to add to kitchens for elderly people to use. They are ideal for people with back problems as well. The reason being, they eliminate a lot of bending over and reaching into the back of a cabinet to find something.

It’s important to understand that when these are added to a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room, you may lose up to about 4 ½ inches in width for storage space. This is because there are spacer blocks that must be installed so the drawers miss the doors, when they are being pulled out. So, if you have a double door cabinet that has twenty six inches of clearance inside, left to right, when you add the pull out drawers, your inside clearance for the finished drawer will be twenty one and one half inches.

Tip:Figure out the size of all of the parts that you will need and have a local cabinet maker cut them for you. Or even better yet, have them make the drawers and spacers and then you can just install them yourself.

Pull-out Drawer Designs

Many of the pull out drawer designs, that you may find at Home Depot, are only around 4” in height. This seems to be an industry standard for pre- manufactured cabinetry. Here’s the way that I always like to build them, extra high. For a standard kitchen base cabinet you will have about 24” of clearance, from the cabinet bottom to the bottom of the drawer above.

I like to make two drawers about nine inches in height. When laid out properly, the end result will be that between the two drawers, there will be around three inches of clearance for your hands to fit through to get a grip. A good custom cabinet maker should actually offer you the option of having them what ever size that you choose.

I have added these too many existing pantry cabinets and oftentimes, the customers would have three different heights of drawers. Some would be for cereal boxes and others would be for different height canned goods. Pantries usually require that the drawers eb designed around the hinge placements.

Tip: Always pay particular attention to the hinges and design your drawers around where they are located.

Some customers would order their roll out drawers designed with scoops in the front/center. This would allow for all of the drawers to be close together in height. There would just be enough room to fit your hands inside the scoop to pull them out.

How To Add Roll-Drawers To Cabinets

As previously mentioned, the proper way to add roll out drawers to cabinets is to install spacers on the sides of the cabinetry, so that the drawer misses the doors when it is pulled out. There are several different methods relating to how to install roll outs. Some companies supply nylon spacers that attach to the drawer slides. These eventually will break because they are not designed to be functional but, essentially they are made for mass production purposes. The best spacers are the ones that are made out of wood.

Measuring the cabinet and figuring out the drawer parts.

Measure the inside opening of the cabinet. I personally like to use spacer blocks on both sides even if there is only hinges on one side. It just makes it easier for installing. The standard dimension that need to be allowed for the drawer sides should be one inch.

Here’s an example using 5/8” thick spacers:
Inside clear opening size is 26 inches, left to right
Deduct the two thicknesses of your spacers if the are 5/8” (.625) thick, deduct 1 1/4” (1.25)
Deduct 1” for the drawer slides allowance
I usually take an extra 1/16” (.0625) off for good measure. It’s easier to shim a small drawer than it is to cut one down.

The finished width of the pull out drawer should be 23 11/16” wide.

Tip: Some cabinet hinges will require that you recess the drawer back from the front cabinet edge about an inch. This is usually necessary with a hinge known as a Y-5 or Y-7 hinge.

On the hinge side of a European style cabinet, you will need to install spacers that are no less than 5/8′ thick. I usually make them three to four inches high. This allows room for me to screw the drawer slide onto the board before I screw the spacer board to the inside of the cabinet. It will be a lot easier to do it this way, rather than trying to screw the slide on after you have installed the spacer in the cabinet.

DO NOT USE the plastic spacers for roll-out drawer slides.

Once the spacers are in place you can slide the drawers in.

How Much Should Cabinet Roll-outs Cost?

How much a roll out drawer costs is going to depend on the finished design that you are after. Drawers are very labor intensive for cabinet makers. I would usually figure one hour fabrication time per drawer. I would also figure about a half hour to install each one. At a rate of $65 per hour to meet with the customer, measure, design, fabricate, deliver and install six drawers in a kitchen could cost anywhere from $550 to $750. There are many variable that can effect the price.

Tip: You get what you pay for. Sure you could hire a handy man at $25 to 30 an hour and your going to get a product that is half as good as the one that the custom cabinet maker would provide.

As always, I hope that this teaching about how to add roll out drawers was helpful. It may be a good idea to copy, paste and print this to use as a reference. Then you can just pull out this cheat sheet and design the drawers that you are planning to add to your cabinetry.

Categories: Working With Drawers
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