installing drawer slides - my 3 mistakes and how to fix them

Installing Drawer Slides: 3 Mistakes I Made & How to Fix Them

Converting a kitchen cabinet into a pull out trash drawer has been my latest project around here and let me tell you, I struggled. It looks so simple! Why oh why did I have to make it so hard? 

I’m sharing 3 mistakes I made while installing drawer slides inside a cabinet and the solutions to those mistakes. Hopefully after reading through my mis-steps you’ll be able to conquer installing your drawer slides with a little more know how and much more success than my first attempt.

I had been putting this project off for quite some time, but it’s one of my many 2019 Home Project Goals and I’m determined to finish as many things on that list as possible by the end of the year.

This was my first time installing drawer slides and it did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. But, after many mistakes (even more than the 3 listed here), the drawer is done. (woohoo!) I am determined to keep working on installing drawer slides until I can do it with ease (and in less than 5 hours – hah!).

*this post contains affiliate links

A few details

There are a few different types of drawer slides you can buy. I used full extension slides like these. I chose these slides because I wanted to be able to extend my drawer as much as possible to make sure I could remove the trash can easily.

I had planned to install the drawer and provide a full tutorial on converting a kitchen cabinet into a pull out trash drawer, but instead I’m sharing these 3 tips with you while I work on mastering this skill. If you’re looking for a tutorial I recommend doing a search on YouTube. I found lots of helpful videos while stumbling through my first experience.

installing drawer slides into a cabinet for a pull out trash

Mistake #1: Drawer pieces not perfectly cut

The box I built as my drawer was not perfect. I realized that the front and back pieces were about 1/8″ too wide as I was putting my box together.

“No big deal”, I thought, and I assembled the box anyways with a 1/8″ overhang in the front and back on one side. 

Yes big deal.

I just kept moving along with my project until the only thing left to do was slide my drawer into the hardware I had installed inside the cabinet. Roadblock!

The overhang on the drawer prevented the drawer slide hardware from extending and my drawer got stuck inside the cabinet. After more than 20 minutes of careful maneuvering and a few choice words the drawer was finally free. There was no way I was putting that drawer back in so I had to come up with a solution.

Solution: Trim drawer with table saw

To fix my drawer I had to remove the slide hardware and trim down the width of the front and back pieces with my table saw. This was a quick fix, and a lesson that I won’t soon forget. The drawer size matters. Like a lot. Even a tiny 1/8″ overhang stopped my drawer slides from working. So, double & triple check your measurements before assembly so you don’t have to backtrack like me.

Mistake #2: Drawer dragging on bottom of cabinet

Once I fixed my drawer so that the slides could fully extend I hit another roadblock. The drawer was dragging on the bottom of the cabinet frame, making it hard to open and scratching the frame. 

Our cabinets are inset so the frame around the cabinet opening is narrower than the interior of the cabinet. I didn’t take this into account when installing the drawer slide hardware onto the drawer and cabinet.

Solution: lower slides on drawer

To fix a drawer dragging on the bottom of the cabinet you have to lower the slide hardware on the drawer. This will make the drawer sit higher on the slide hardware attached the interior of the cabinet.

So, at this point, I unscrewed the slide hardware attached the drawer (again) and reattached it about 1/2″ lower. This raised the drawer up enough that it could clear the trim on the bottom of the cabinet.

The lesson here is to take measurements from the cabinet opening, not just the interior. Plan drawer slide placement based on the highest measurement that the drawer will have to clear.

Mistake #3: Cabinet door hardware in the way

So I fixed the drawer width and the height of the slides and thought I was finally done – nope! As I tried to slide out my drawer completely one more time the drawer slide got caught on the cabinet hinge and got stuck. Roadblock number 3. 

Honestly at this point I just removed the cabinet drawer and walked away for a bit. I was so frustrated at the thought of having to uninstall and reinstall these drawer slides yet again. But when I came back to my project the next day, the solution turned out to be super simple.

Solution: Adjust the cabinet doors

As I was looking at the cabinet door hardware I realized that the opening to attach the hinge to the cabinet base allowed for adjustments. All I had to do was reattach the hinges using the same holes as before but adjust them a little higher. This adjustment allowed for the drawer slide to fully extend – FINALLY.

Before realizing this I had resigned to either reinstalling the cabinet hinges at a different spot on the cabinet base. Or removing the hinge hardware from inside the cabinet and reinstalling it higher so that it didn’t interfere with the hinge. Neither of these solutions were something I wanted to do, but they would have worked to solve my last little mistake.

The lesson here – if you cabinet door has hinges that are inset be sure to account for them when figuring out the placement of your drawer slides.

installing drawer slides: 3 mistakes and how to fix them

Installing Drawer Slides for the first time

There are many measurements to consider when installing drawer slides. My initial plan was to share a tutorial after converting my kitchen cabinet into a pull out trash drawer, but, y’all I need some practice. So, instead, I’ve passed along 3 of the mistakes I made in the installation process, solutions to fix them and ways to avoid them.

If you’re prepping to install drawer slides for the first time, good luck and I hope your installation goes smoother than mine! 🙂