Tuesday, August 27, 2013

DIY: Replacing a Centre Drawer Slide

I was caught unaware a few weeks ago which was actually quite embarrassing. A lovely couple came to view (and buy and take home) the serpentine chest of drawers that I painted in ASCP Graphite. 

They spent sometime discussing if they'd buy it so I left them alone while they decided. I could hear them opening and shutting the drawers - and then it went on and on - slide, slide, slide. I could tell by their muted conversation (although I couldn't hear exactly) that something was up so I went back into the room and asked what they thought. They pointed out to me that the bottom centre drawer runner/slide was completely missing.

I had completely not noticed which is actually unusual for me. I must have been distracted when I put the drawers back in. Anyway I promised I would fix it within a few days and they said they'd definitely buy it and would come back later that week to pick it up. 

This is the piece that was missing. A very specifically shaped piece of timber.

And this is the hard plastic glide that sits on the back of the drawer and slide along the wood. It not only makes the drawer slide straight but it stops the drawer from tipping downwards as it's opened.

So I thought it would be a relatively easy thing to go buy a new drawer slide and insert it.  I sat down that night on my iPad and spent sometime with my old friend Mr Google. If you are American you could just buy this for around $10. But of course living in Australia, there is such a lack of hardware! I dream of American hardware shops. LOL.
The next day I went to three hardware shops including a timber specialist. No one could help me and when I made some suggestions I was hoo hoo (what's that term? boo hooed? how hawed? you know what I mean anyway)

Anyway I was at the timber specialists and I was asking the guy about routing a piece of timber for it and he quoted me around $140 for a piece of wood around 35 cm long. Umm... no thanks, mate. Anyway as he was busy telling me that a simple solution just wasn't possible, I picked up a bit of wood trim and was fiddling with it when realised that it fitted perfectly into the top of the plastic glide. My brain started ticking over and I bought a metre of the trim for $3.50. I almost ran the whole way home, full of hope and ideas.

As soon as I got home I cut the trim into lengths of 35cm and grabbed my orbital sander and started planing down the trim so it had a flat edge at the top instead of the raised curve.  I did this for both pieces and held them together and kept measuring the height against the existing drawers glides. When they were the same height I glued the pieces together to create a T shape using the trusty old Liquid Nails. I then used the Liquid Nails to insert it into the chest of drawers.

et voilĂ 
the drawer slides perfectly

Thank you engineering degree for teaching me problem solving and that there is usually a cost effective way of fixing something. 
(the trusty old workaround)

So if you are Australian, this is how you can make your own drawer slides if you buy an old piece of furniture and they are missing or broken.

you Yanks don't know how good you have it with all your DIY and craft shops!

Fiona xx


  1. Hi Fiona

    In the past I've had the other end of this problem and had the plastic slide bit missing. I thought I could go and pick up a new piece locally, but no. Was also told there was nothing that could be done. I ended up using two screws with reasonable sized heads on them, screwed up into the back edge of the drawer where the plastic bracket should be. The screw heads were what grabbed onto the timber rail to stop the drawer from tipping. Worked perfectly.

    We New Zealanders pride ourselves on working out solutions to problems and fixing things ourselves, it is called the 'number 8 wire' approach...comes in handy alot :)

  2. Yes, the number 8 wire approach saves us kiwis all the time! I used to watch dad (who was an Aussie) make all sorts of things he couldn't find in the hardware shops - a real learning lesson. Fiona, have you tried getting "stuff" sent out from America? My husband is in the middle of doing that now because we can't find some fencing widgets we need here. We're going to see if it's a good idea for future hardware stuff.

  3. Actually, I ran into the same problem & couldn't find the plastic piece either & I live in Amish country where lots of furniture is made locally. They tell me those are outdated slides. I live in the US of A. :)

  4. Fantastic!! Speaks volumes for your work that the buyers weren't put off, they knew well enough you'd solve the problem!

  5. Hi, have by the looks exactly the same set drawers and 2 have busted runners. I can 3d print the plastic bits but the runner is looking like a problem. I also don't need a cost or time run-away.

    By the way... what's the set of drawers worth? Mine are in excellent condition and have the curved front and same legs. Was going to throw it until I saw wooden solid furniture seems to be worth a fortune these days.


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