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Making Hardwood Drawer Runners
Types of Wood
- The best woods for manufacturing drawer runners are species that are hard, smooth and close-grained such as maple, birch and cherry. Because wooden runners experience a lot of wear from the drawer being opened and closed frequently, softwoods like pine and cedar are not appropriate. They wear down and make the drawer move loosely. Rock maple is the ideal species for making drawer runners. It is hard, stable and features a tight grain that runs smoothly, particularly when covered with a coat of wax.
- Wooden drawer runners can be built into the sides of the drawer, installed underneath or, less frequently, installed at the top so that it hangs from the runners. When side runners are used, they can be installed in the side of the case and fit into a notch in the side of the drawer or be built into the drawer itself and slide in a notch in the side of the case. Some cabinet makers prefer drawers that slide on hardwood frames within the case, because this removes the necessity of having a notch in the side of the drawer.
- Wooden drawer runners are simply designed, and have been an integral part of fine furniture for centuries. Wherever the runner is located, it should be planed smooth and sized so that it is just a fraction of an inch smaller than the notch into which it fits. If the runner is too thick, the drawer will stick. If it is too narrow, the drawer will tilt excessively when it's pulled out of the case. Some wooden drawer runners are fitted with a block attached to the back of the drawer to prevent it from being pulled all the way out of the case.
- Drawers with wooden runners are used in the same way as drawers with metal runners. If the drawer has no block at the back, you need to be careful not to pull the drawer too far forward or it may crash to the floor when its back end leaves the case. Wooden runners benefit from a light coat of butcher's wax applied to their tops and bottoms.