Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Broken Drawer Guide

The drawer rails/guides that LD uses often lead to some issues with drawers not opening or not staying shut. Heavy contents can cause failure of the brackets. Solutions: beef up the existing brackets or replace the rails/guides completely.

Strengthening the existing guides:

The drawer guides are apparently meant for socks and underwear, so if you load them with wrenches and hammers the way I do, the brackets are under a lot more stress than they were designed for.
In every case I've seen, the break was at the right-angle bend in the rear support bracket. The forming process must embrittle that area. Fortunately, the fix is fairly easy. You need a 1" x 1" corner brace, two #8-32 x 1/2" machine screws, and two each #8 star washers and #8-32 hex nuts, plus basic tools including a power drill.
Photo by  Chris Horst
[Note while this shows a 1/2” corner brace, I suggest using a 1”]

1. Remove the drawer. You'll have to pull it all the way out and jerk hard to free it.
2. Remove the screw holding the front end of the support/slide assembly.
3. Pull the slide assembly out. You'll find the the lower portion of the rear support bracket attached to it; slide this off.
4. Reaching deep into the cabinet, remove the two screws holding the rest of the rear support bracket to the wall.
5. See the wide slot in the wall-mounted bracket portion that you just removed? Push an 8-32 machine screw through from the back of that slot. Push the 1" x 1" corner brace onto the screw, and add a star washer and 8-32 nut. Tighten securely.
6. Using the other leg of the 1" x 1" corner brace as a guide, mark and drill a hole through the bottom portion of the support bracket.
7. Secure the two pieces together with another 8-32 machine screw, star washer, and nut.
8. Screw the support bracket to the wall, using its original screws. The protruding machine screw head on the rear will try to keep it from seating flush against the wall. Don't worry--just tighten down the screws hard, and it will sink in.
9. Slide the slide assembly onto the rear support bracket, then pull it forward until it latches.
10. Replace the screw at the front of the slide assembly.
11. Replace the drawer.
That probably sounds more complicated than it is, but once you start doing it, you'll see that it's really straightforward. You're just using a small corner brace to mend the broken right-angle bend in the rear support bracket. Once mended, I've never seen a repeat failure.

Replacing the guides:

The two big drawers under the fridge in our FL have been problematic for awhile, popping out of their tracks when extended out unless supported by hand. I gave up on the factory hardware, and ordered new slides rated for 35 lbs., the Centerline 714 24" model.

Comparison between the original Accuride 01048 drawer slide from LD and the Centerline model 714 24":  The Centerline is about 1" longer, but fits fine by drilling two new holes in the drawer mount half. It does NOT have the drawer retention feature, so that must be provided separately.
The stock Accuride contains 8 ball bearing sets, and over time, the stress at these few wear points allows the track to pop apart at full extension. Eventually, grooves are worn where the bearings pop out in the cabinet half of the guide, requiring replacement. These guides are available from the Mothership. 

I was looking for a better solution in the Centerline guide, which contains 20 sets of ball bearings. This should cause much less stress on the guide and prolong its life indefinitely. Also, the back support for the Centerline is identical dimensionally to the Accuride, but of beefier steel, so I replaced those as well. Once installed, the new tracks had a distinctly more solid feel, and they also extend a bit further out than before. 

For a retention feature, I cut triangular pieces of hardwood as ramps, max height about 0.6", and glued them to the underside of the drawer bottom, about 0.95" back from the interior front panel of the drawer near the track. It remains to be seen if they hold up over time, but the feel and function is about the same as with the retention system on the old slides.  

Andy Baird, Chris Horst, Steve Chandler