Welcome! / Forums / General Woodworking Discussions / Woodworking Methods and Techniques / Drawer framing – when to use guides VS panels etc / Reply To: Drawer framing – when to use guides VS panels etc
I am puzzled by all this too! There are so many options. I have seen discussions of what the opens are, but I have not found good discussions of why people take one option rather than the other. To some extent, some choices seem dictated by the nature of the project, but even then, not all the choices are. I tend to just do what I have seen others do without clear ideas as to why
Often Paul makes a basic box to fit a drawer into, e.g., in the bottom of his drinks cabinet is just a box. He makes a drawer without guides that just fits that box. The bottom of the drawer rides on the bottom of the box and the sides of the drawer rub up against the sides of the box. Perfectly understandable construction and one we have all used Fine, but I have also seen people use various guides in such boxes. They can be cleats attached to the drawer and fit into dados in the sides, or cleats attached to the sides of the box and fit into slots in the drawer. They can be bottom guides, and so on. Why would anyone make these choices? The clearly reduce friction since the a smaller amount of the drawer rubs against a small amount of the box. Do they reduce jamming? Do they just control wear and tear on the drawer? Are some better for this or that purpose? I sort of expect that some sort of guide is superior mechanically (less friection etc.) but is thought to be less attractive — so if you can make a drawer with out the guide, it looks nicer. The only option I do understand is metal slides since they can make for smooth operation and, depending on the slide, can allow for full extension without the drawer falling out. These metal slides are also particularly helpful for drawers holding heavy things. But they are not all that attractive and can take up space.
There are also more complex constructions beyond the simple box, e.g., the complex webs people make for chests of drawers or the simpler web people make to attach a drawer to the underside of a simple table. There are a number of choices in these cases. Again, the one choice I get is metal guides since they are smooth, allow for full extension without drawers falling out, and can carry a lot of weight. But they are not very attractive and take up space. But putting those aside, there are lot of choices. I have a chest of drawers with a bottom center guide made out of wood that the drawer sits on. It seems to work okay and though it does take a bit of space, it is not visible like side cleats are. I have seen chests where the drawers ride on wooden side cleats attached either to the drawer or to the side of the cabinet. They are strong, but are not so attractive and do take up some space. I have seen also seen chests of draws with using the sorts of construction I have used for simple drawers under table: runners, rails, kickers etc. They all seem to work.
The best I can tell, the main concerns are two. (a) We want constructions that limit friction, binding etc, which points toward some sort of slide. And (b) we want constructions that are attractive and do not waste space, which generally points away from slides. Beyond that, I do not have much of an idea.