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I just built and installed four drawers into a bed frame I recently built. I was careful to keep everything square and parallel and the finished sides of the drawers as well as the cabinet where they go are parallel to better than 1/32 inch (0.8 mm).

To avoid headaches, I made the cabinet openings about 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) wider than the drawers plus the one inch required by the slides (1/2 inch each side; total cabinet opening is 1 + 1/8 inch wider than the drawer).

However, not one of the drawers slides easily. They feel like they are binding and scraping wood against wood. I have looked carefully and am certain the drawer bottoms, tops, sides, and edges are not touching the cabinet at any point along the way.

I used these soft closing ball bearing slides:

enter image description here

I think it is the rails themselves that are scraping the drawer and cabinet. Looking down them, along the sides of the drawers it looks pretty tight: enter image description here

That is the left drawer edge (with dovetails) at the left and another drawer at the right. The parallel plywood is the center support and "cabinet edges" for both drawers. The extra 1/8 inch width is made up by using the slide's "shim tabs" (for lack of a known name) which is being used on the left slide in the photo. The right drawer's right slide (not in photo) is doing the same thing for the right drawer.

I see there is an answer for how to install slides so they line up and work properly, but after reviewing it, I think I covered it as best I can. That answer's links talk about leveling, for which I installed the slides by measuring the same distance from the top of the sides which are level which support the plywood under the mattress. I had squareness in mind at all aspects of building. I couldn't make much sense of this one and this is all about the special jigs sold.

Naturally the instructions that come with the rails are useless: Install the rails as required (or something to that effect).

So, what am I overlooking? How should the slides be installed to work smoothly and without scraping?

  • Those "shim tabs" that you mention. Do you have the option to adjust those to less than the 1/8" dimension? Or can you remove them and use some alternate material for the shims? In either case I would recommend that you try reduce the shim thickness by 1/32" inch and see if that frees up the slide action. From your picture it looks like you have them too tight width wise across the drawer. – Michael Karas Oct 5 '15 at 9:08
  • @MichaelKaras: They are bendable tabs slightly more than an inch long and about a half inch wide (25 x 13 mm). At the end is a place for one mounting screw. There are three in each rail. The drawer portion is rigidly fixed to the drawer. The result is that the slider mechanism can be in any position from flush against the cabinet to almost one inch away. So yes, they can be adjusted without other materials. I could split the spacing on both sides and see if that helps. As it is now, one side is flush and the other has all the space. – wallyk Oct 5 '15 at 15:49
  • This is just gut feel, but I suspect that @MichaelKaras is correct. If you reduced the effective shim to zero and left a little play in the screws, you could probably sense the right amount of shimming. (If it's off, 1/8" is a lot in drawer slides...) – Aloysius Defenestrate Oct 6 '15 at 4:28
  • @AloysiusDefenestrate: Indeed. When I first put the drawers in with the rails firmly held to the cabinets, none of the rails would engage. I moved adjusted one side rail away from the cabinet bit by bit until I could get the rails to stay inside the drawer sides. As it is, there is a reasonable amount of flex so the movable side can probably find its happy position, but there is sure a lot of scraping. – wallyk Oct 6 '15 at 5:58
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1/16" is going to make a difference here. Very small margins.

Don't rely on those metal flaps as shims. If you need shims, use shims.

You have not done anything wrong, you've just entered the PITA adjustment phase. Higher-quality hardware has adjustments which can be made after the hardware is installed. These slides are not that. You are fortunate that your problem is the width and not vertical because you'd hate to have to move the glide 1/16" up or down - the screw would keep getting sucked into the old hole.

Take it apart and flatten out those "shims." Then put it back together and try it. Based on the math, it won't be quite right. Add 1/16" shims to both sides and try that. If you have measured correctly this far, you'll be done. Obviously if it doesn't work, try 1/16" shim on only one side. Get some serious shim material that you can measure and which won't compress. And whatever you do, don't strip the holes with all of the in and out.

Whatever that other answer said about support in the front does not apply. These glides don't need support. If they require support it's not done properly.

  • Thanks. The original installation was flat tabs and no shims and in that configuration, none of the drawers would go in because the rails came out of the track. Once I determined that was the cause, then I bent the tabs on one rail per drawer and had to move all the screws into the cabinet. That didn't help matters much, if at all. 1/16" shims? I might have some from trimming a door awhile back.... – wallyk Dec 17 '15 at 5:41
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As you pull the drawer out, the weight of the front of the drawer isn't supported. You need to reposition the slides up higher. Since the project is already assembled. After you remove the slides. Attatch the slide rail to a piece of thin wood, then remove the slide rail, attatch the thin piece of wood to the cabinet wall where you wish to reattatch the slide rail, to use as a template to mark the holes. Much easier.

  • When I was trying to adjust the rails, the drawer was empty and I variously supported and pressed down the front in case the front to back balance was affecting the scraping: at first I thought the back top was scraping the top of the cabinet space. It made no difference. – wallyk Oct 18 '15 at 15:18
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You're still bottoming out the slides & it won't sound like metal, these need some play so the bearings move freely. The cabinet side of the slide might be biting into the drawer side as well. Grinding down the backs of the slides might weaken them too much, so I only see dado-ing (or whatever you might have) the drawer sides as the remedy. If you go too far there you can shim your screws with washers to get everything just right.

  • Bottoming out the slides: in what sense? – wallyk Jan 16 '16 at 5:25
  • The picture makes them look quite pinched together & usually there should be as much as 1/8" clearance from the drawer side to the cabinet's slide edge. You look like you're sporting maybe a 64th at the most. You can possibly confirm this by just swapping drawers, putting the smallest drawer in the biggest box. Taking a single slide off the cabinet box & putting it on the loose drawer with some weight can also reveal the binding point. – Iggy Jan 16 '16 at 5:39
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When I installed these I had a scraping issue as well. It's been some time back but if memory serves the scraping issue was related to a screw. I solved it by:

1) place the screws in the hole at the extreme end of the tab (not the hole closest to the meat of the slide, but the hole that would allow the slide to flex the most).

2) do not prebend the shims! This was an important discovery for me. Mount the slide to the cabinet and drawer. Then install drawer by wiggling it back and forth until it grabs on both sides. At this point it will feel like it's binding a bit. Perfect! Now use force to push the drawer back until they are all the way back.

When you do this the tabs flex by themselves to the optimal position and you are set. I believe the screw issue was that by putting the screw in the first hole, they end up getting torqued at an angle and that causes them to scrape on the slide.

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Good thing you left an 1/8" on both sides.

Put washers in between the drawer and the slide, under each of its mounting screws, to offset it away from the track. Use small enough washers, that they themselves won't scratch on the glides.

I'm not sure how else you'd use a track that doesn't present a proud attachment point.

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