Center Guides for DrawersShopmade guides ensure smooth action for wide drawers
Synopsis: Center guides are a simple and effective way to make drawers run straight and true without binding. They are especially useful in cases with very wide drawers, oddly shaped drawers, or small drawers (where they eliminate the need for runners). Furniture maker Mark Edmundson demonstrates how to make the two parts for a center-guided drawer: the guide and the slide, and how to fine-tune these parts for a perfect fit. He then shows how to mount them to the drawer and cabinet. Follow these guidelines and you’ll have a drawer that runs smooth and straight for its lifetime.
Let’s be honest. An occasional binding drawer is an ugly fact of life in woodworking. We’ve all knocked our heads against the wall trying to get a drawer to run straight and smooth. But center guides can relieve a lot of the pain, while solving the binding problem.
To steer a drawer in the center, you need to build two parts: the guide and the slide (see drawing, facing page). Make both parts of quartersawn hardwood to minimize seasonal wood movement. The guide is secured to the rails of the drawer pocket and mates with the slide, which is mounted underneath the drawer. The guide also serves as the stop for an inset drawer, allowing you to fine-tune the desired reveal at the front, and it works as the kicker for a drawer below. The system is dirt-simple but very effective. With it, you can make any drawer run straight and true, with no binding—ever.
Although center guides work with almost any type of furniture—tables and both solid-wood and frame-and-panel cases—they are especially effective at guiding wide drawers. Installed correctly, center guides will allow you to open a drawer from either corner without fear of binding. Center guides also work well on small drawers, where they can take the place of side runners. What’s more, they are a great solution for guiding irregularly shaped drawers, or normal drawers in an irregularly shaped cabinet or table—basically anywhere the sides of the case can’t guide the drawers. The system even works with overlay drawers.
Notch rails to hold the guide
The construction sequence for centerguided drawers differs a bit from traditional methods, in that the web frame that supports the drawer (two rails, two runners) will need to be notched for the guide before it is glued into the cabinet. But the drawer bottom should be the type that can be slid out the back.
From Fine Woodworking #192
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