How to Replace a Wooden Drawer Slide with a Metal One?

how to replace a wooden drawer slide with a metal one

This is a pretty common thing to happen to those who own one old kitchen cabinet with vintage elements. These are always coming with wooden drawer slides. Even modern-day designed cabinets also come with these.

However, one thing that totally upsets regarding wooden slide is that these are prone to getting worn out pretty quickly. And that brings many people to the situation of replacing them. Usually, the finest choice for such replacement is ball-bearing metal runners.

And so, I’ll be telling you a process on how to replace a wooden drawer slide with a metal one and do some rebuilding.

How to Replace a Wooden Drawer Slide with a Metal One:

General Idea, Tools, Guide & More

So, the job to get your old kitchen drawer, hutch or cabinet wooden drawer slide replaced needs some basic knowledge about both types of slides. Before screwing those drawer slides, let’s talk about some general things.

General Idea on Wood and Metal Slides

For a quite long time period, wooden drawer slides have taken a lot of space as the traditional choice for drawers and cabinets. They still hold special space in the heart for finely-crafted furniture lovers. However, they do wear quite quickly if proper maintenance is lacked. Sometimes due to extreme weather conditions, the humidity makes slide worn out even faster.

And that’s when metal or mechanical slides entered the chat. There are fantastic styles and configurations for mounting available with metal slides. You can use them in both hidden or visible manner. Unlike wooden ones, the metal slides will never react poorly to weather conditions.

They stay fine during January and also great when it’s a muggy august noon. The construction process also gets super simple by using metal ones. When making choice for metal slide, you want to get something that will provide the right management for weight requirements. It should be reasonable enough to provide quality performance in the long run for smooth and trouble-free operation. So that the need for another replacement does not come any time sooner

Things You’ll Need for The Installation…

Things You’ll Need for The Installation

For the project, you will need some basic tools such as a mallet, the circular type saw, chisel, measurement tape, a cordless brad nailer or hammer, pocket hole jig, a cordless drill with 1/16” bits, level and clamps.

You should get plywood of 1/2’” measurement. 2’x4’ quarter sheet for every three drawers will work. 8 one” pocket hole screws will also be necessary. 1” nails are the next thing to get.

Don’t forget scarps of 2×4 to deal with wood shims. Matching with the drawer depth, buy suitable ball bearing metal slides as well. Get 1×4 boards cut according to drawer depth. To attach the drawer face use 1” wood screws. 1 1/2” screws of wood for attaching the side will also be necessary.

Once you get all of these stuffs, we are good to proceed with the tutorial…

Detaching Slides & Dismantling Old Drawers…

From the drawer’s inside, you need to detach old wooden drawer slides to start. Use the mallet and chisel to do this step. Now simply bring the drawer bottom out by sliding gradually. In some cases, you may need to use a hammer for removing nails.

If you notice these are pretty usable yet, keep them aside. Now we need to cut down those sides from the drawer face. Use a circular saw to do this. From the back, you want to simply pry apart those sides. Now from the sides of your drawer, simply cut off tenons. The drawer back needs to be discarded next.

Some Rebuilding Chores…

Starting from the routed groove, you need to calculate drawer face’s length and also its side’s height. Using the measurement for height, simply cut the ½” plywood. You want to cut it around 2” less than drawer face length. There needs to be around half” clearance for metal drawer slides on either side of the carcass. So, it’s better to go this way.

The thick ½” drawer sides should hold between new half” plywood. So, attach it that way. From the total length of plywood front and back, simply minus this thickness. Now go to either end of plywood pieces. You want to drill two 1/2” pocket holes here. Using the 1” pocket hole screws, simply attach them with drawer sides.

It’s time for some pre-drilling and screwing. The new plywood drawer front should be attached to those drawer face’s back. Make the bottom back of this drawer slide into its right place. Using 1” nails simply attach into the back and front.

Attaching the Spacers for Drawer…

For every drawer opening, you will place 1×3 boards inside gradually. It needs to be in the dresser’s side and use a clamp as well a level to do such positioning right. Using the 1 ½” wooden screws, simply attach them carefully.

To get the board into its right thickness, you can also use some wood shims. To make the drawer slides work properly, proper clearance needs to be 1/2” on each side. So that the drawer can fit right and work. The wood on every side has to be accurate in thickness for this very same reason. This will make the metal slide sticking far enough.

Using the wood shims, you can add some extra thickness if necessary. It’s a better option to attach the 1x43s first and then going for slide attachment. This will help in determining the right wood shims for thickness on each side.

Finishing Off…

The slide that will fit inside your dresser needs to be in its right position and marked down with an accurate measurement. Use the included screws to simply attach it now. The part of its slide that goes at right side of actual drawer needs to be in position.

You want to take a note of the part’s height and length from opening. Make some marks outside on each side of the drawer. You want to test fit the drawer opening after attaching slide part inside. You may need to make some adjustments which are pretty normal.

Also, make sure the slides are straight and on a level. It needs to be even on both sides and outside of the drawer. So that the darer can smoothly slide in and out.

Also Read: Best Soft Close Cabinet Hinges Review | Top 5 Picks


There are several types of drawer slides that you can use for such sort of replacement. However, sticking to bottom-mounted design might sound right for beginners. Usually, the ones that are side-mounted require some precision and skill for mounting.

And so, it might be a better deal for you to learn about how to replace a wooden drawer slide with a metal one that is bottom mounted.

No matter what type you pick, make sure to go with the right instructions when changing a furniture part. This can either ruin the thing or make it better at functioning. The outcome depends on precision and abilities of a proper replacement.

About Sam Maxi

Hi, this is Sam Maxi. I love talking about woodwork tools and my reviews are mostly based on the experience I have from my work. Apart from reviewing, I am a huge fan of surfing. Also, I love watching horror genre movies.

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