Attaching Drawer Fronts Efficiently

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Quick and simple methods for quality production. April 2, 2004

If somebody has a quick way to attach drawer fronts, I'm all ears. I make the drawer box, install hardware and hang the drawer, then align the front using a jig and screw it from inside the drawer. I'm wondering if there is a quicker way to do it. Been doing it this way for years, but realize it is labor intensive and looking for ways to streamline operation and increase profits.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor T:
I skip the jig and stick the front on with double-sided masking tape, then screw.

From contributor G:
We have had the same problems and have been tinkering with a better solution. So far we have made sure that all of our drawers have the same reveals. Do the mounting on the front on the workbench, not while hanging on the cabinet.

Drill two holes in the drawer box front for the mounting screws to go in. The holes should be oversize, about 5/16 or 3/8. Use washer head screws. Place the front face down on the workbench and line up the drawer on top of it. Drive the screws in tight. Slide drawer into the box and if you need a little adjustment, just loosen a little. The oversize hole gives plenty of adjustment. Done. This has saved plenty of time so far, not to mention the aggravation of working inside the box. The hardest part is getting used to something new.

I start the bottom, slide the drawer into cabinet, eyeball the front, shoot 1 brad nail from behind in dead center, stand back, put the ole trained eye on itů The one brad lets me move one side up and down very easily, reach back over inside with brad gun, shoot 3 along the top and three along the bottom and let the pull do the rest.

From contributor F:
First, determine the drawer front style - inset or overlay. Contributor G has the right idea - use drawer front adjusting screws and after the drawer is set in the case and the fronts adjusted, add two more screws to nail the location. For inset, set the drawer on the assembly bench and center the front. For overlay drawers, set a piece of MDF that is the same thickness as the overlay on the bench and place the drawer on the MDF and the bottom of the drawer front on the bench and center. Center the drawer laterally on the drawer and use the drawer front adjusting screws in the manner.

From contributor K:
Contributor T, why didn't I think of that? Thanks!

From contributor J:
I use drawer front adjusters from Blum. They are a plastic grommet with a loose cam in the center. Put two in each face and use an 8x32 screw to secure it to the box. Snug the screws and the face will rotate 1/8 inch in all directions. Then you can fix the face permanently. Works great either after installation in the field or producing in the shop.

From contributor A:
I used to drill two 8mm holes in the box front, put two dowel centers in the holes, align the drawer face, then give a couple of taps. Now I have two marks on the drawer front. Take the dowel centers out and screw the face with drawer adjusting screws. When the drawer front is adjusted, I put in two more screws. Now the front is in place. But since most of my drawers have a knob, I find the center of the drawer front, drill a hole just big enough for the knob screw, align it on the box, drill through the first hole all the way to the drawer box. Now attach the knob and I've aligned the drawer front and put the knob on in one step.

From contributor R:
For dovetail drawers, I use the drawer front adjusters from Blum that were mentioned above. For our standard drawer, we use the Grass Zargen drawer system. There is nothing faster; the average per drawer from cut to assembly is 7 minutes. That includes cutting the back and bottom, banding the top edge of the back, grooving the bottom, boring the back and drawer front, and pressing everything together. It is a really slick system.

From contributor W:
Drawer front adjusters from Blum! The only way to do it!

From contributor Y:
If you use a sliding or French dovetail, you wouldn't have to eyeball, tape, use special mounting screws, alignment jigs, oversize holes. It's simple - dovetail the drawer front with a dado for the bottom to slide into, dovetail the drawer sides, slip them together - no alignment needed. They're all the same all the time. I have built thousands of these and never had any problems. And all it takes is a couple of dedicated routers! Too simple. Or use Blum, Mepla, Grass or Harn metal sides. 1 drawer, seven minutes. Snap on the front - it's totally adjustable. After using them, you will never want to go back to a wooden drawer.

From contributor E:
Install the doors on the box. Use a spacer on top of the door. Use double stick carpet or upholstery tape. You can then reach inside and screw it, if you really feel the need. The pull screw will hold it forever, though. Have done this for years - quick, cheap, simple.

From contributor D:
We've used different methods. The double stick tape sometimes won't work if the drawer box sets back slightly. Now we pre-drill the holes for the pulls in the drawer front, then place the front on with a couple of truss screws through the pull holes. This holds it extremely solid and accurate until we run screws from the inside. Afterward, remove the face screws, complete the holes through the drawer box and attach the pull. It involves a few extra steps but makes up in ease and accuracy.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor B:
First, I drill two 5/16" holes in the drawer box in a position that will catch stiles or rails in the drawer front. I put a loop of tape hanging out of the drawer to pull it open to install screws. Next, I test the positions of all fronts on the same cabinet using rips of 1/8" scrap, which represents my spacing between fronts. If all looks good, starting at the botton front, I put a bead of hot glue near the sides of the drawer box and quickly position the front into place. Wait a minute, pull the tape gently to open the drawer and install the screws. Place your 1/8" spacer on top of this front, position the next front, hot glue, etc.

If you need to remove a front for finishing or repositioning, take a slim putty knife along the drawer front, a few light taps with a hammer, and the front will pop off. Just don't use too much hot glue. The screws I use have an extra large washer head for drawer fronts so you can loosen the screws just enough to move the front into a better position. The knob screws will lock the front permanently.