A drawer alone — just an open box — is an oddity. For it to work as intended, it has to be installed in a case in a way that allows it to be opened and closed. The movement has to be smooth, and once open, the drawer has to be able to stay open without your help. This movement can be controlled in several ways. Some mounting systems are integral to the case, while others are add-ons. Regardless, the mounting system should be carefully planned along with the case and drawer design.
Most of the subassemblies that support drawers in a case or table must be incorporated as you build the piece itself. Sure, hardware makes it easy, though fairly expensive, to hang drawers in an open, undifferentiated case, but this approach is largely limited to kitchen cabinetry and similar built-ins. Most of what we consider “furniture” is built using traditional approaches. The traditional approach to casework is to partition the case using drawer dividers. A divider is a rail — and, yes, a lot of woodworkers just call it a rail — extending from one side of the case to the other. It separates the drawers visually and physically. But drawer dividers do more than separate one drawer pocket from another. They also keep the case sides straight and parallel. As such, they need to be integral to the overall design and construction of the case.
In this excerpt from “The Drawer Book” you’ll learn everything you need to install runners, guides and kickers to make your drawers function as smoothly as possible.