An Alternative to Metal Drawer Slides

How to Make Drawer Slides Using Wood

I have to be honest, this is the first time I’ve tried this. I tend to get nervous when trying something new… I don’t want to make mistakes and waste material! I am thrilled to report that this project went very smoothly and turned out great! So now I will share with you how to make drawer slides using wood!

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As much as I love using metal drawer slides, they were just not in the budget for this project. Since this technique worked so well for me, I will probably use it in most of my future projects and incorporate this technique in my plans.

Normally when I draw drawer boxes, the last pieces to be attached are the box front and back. I decided to change it up a bit by attaching the front and back first and the sides last. Before I attached the sides, I cut a 1/2″ deep by 7/8″ wide dado in the box sides, then attached a 3/4″ square strip of material inside the cabinet. The drawers rest on these runners and with a coat of paste wax, slide very smoothly.

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Here’s how it is done:

I used the table saw to cut the dado (a router can also be used). I set the rip fence 3″ from the blade, and the blade height at 1/2″ so it wouldn’t cut all the way through the material. I removed the splitter so I could run the piece through.

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I made the first “cut” then moved the rip fence in 1/8″ increments seven times (7/8″).

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Any slivers left over were chiseled out.

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I then cut strips of 3/4″ material at 3/4″  wide. I cut them a tiny bit shorter than the length of the drawer box sides, then drilled three countersunk holes in each piece.

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I had previously marked the position of the wood slides but due to an, um “error”, I had to change the position of the slides. The goal is to place the slides so that the top of the dado rests on them and the drawer bottom clears the lower stretcher by at least 1/8″.

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I used a tape measure to make sure the slides were level and an equal distance from the bottom of the sides.

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The drawer fits perfectly! I am so excited!

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Now that I’ve shared how to make drawer slides will you make your own? I really think I will!


Originally posted 2013-11-19 08:00:33.


  • Elle says:

    Do you really do this Cher? It amazes and impresses the heck out of me.

    • Yes, I do, Elle! It is funny because sometimes I have this “need” to go out and build something. I thought it was weird until a friend of ours mentioned the same “need”!

  • Great pictures Cher, what a great DIY post!!

  • vinma says:

    I cannot picture myself doing this at all.. but it would have been great if I was able to 🙂 Great DIY Cher 🙂

  • […] It is so easy to cut drawer slides! Just for the record, I’ve only tried this on the roller-type of slides and not the ball-bearing slides. I’m not sure it would work as well but I may try in the future! You could also build your own drawer slides with wood! […]

  • […] To cut the groove in the sides, set the depth of the table saw blade at 1/2″. Set the rip fence at 1-1/8″ from the blade and make a pass with each of the pieces. Move the rip fence toward the blade in 1/4″ increments and make a pass with each piece through the saw until the groove is 7/8″ wide. Remove any excess material in the groove with a wood chisel. Secure the sides to the drawer box using glue and 1-1/4″ brad nails. For an easy tutorial on creating wood drawer runners, click here. […]

  • Yvette McSkimming says:

    Hi Cher! I found your blog by looking up how to build wood drawer side rails. How do you cut the rails? Do I buy a board then cut it down? I have these wood drawers that have side slots for wood rails. They came out of a custom closet. I want to build a base to put them in but not sure how to build the side rails. Also how do you get the rails level on each side? I think I can do this but just wondering how to make the rails. Thanks!

    • Hi, Yvette! I’m so glad you found DbSC! To cut the rails, I used strips I ripped off of a 1×6. If you don’t have access to a table saw, 3/4″ square dowels can also be used. To make them level, I measure from the bottom of the cabinet to the desired location, then use a square to draw the lines and keep them perpendicular to the opening. Does that make sense? If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask! Thank you for stopping by!

  • […] be cut by using a router with a dado bit or by making multiple passes through a table saw. Click here for more […]

  • Carey says:

    OMG. This is awesome!! I’ve been searching forever on how to do this! Thank you for posting!

  • […] your own wooden drawer slides with this free woodworking […]

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