Installing and Aligning Drawer Fronts Easily on Cabinets

There are many methods to fasten drawer fronts to drawer boxes on any cabinetry. Whether you are building new cabinets with drawers or refinishing your existing cabinet fronts, as you install the doors and drawers, you will have the task of aligning the drawer heads and mounting them. This is a tedious job, whether you are a cabinetmaker or ‘DIYer’.

Inset styles are often difficult

For full overlay fronts the spacing is usually 1/8″- 3/16″ and it is easy to see if they are out of alignment. For traditional framed type cabinets without full overlay, the spacing is larger between the doors and drawer fronts, and if the space is not perfect, it is not as noticeable. Inset styles are usually the most difficult as alignment must be perfect all around the doors and drawer fronts to the frame.

Installing and Aligning Drawer Fronts Easily on Cabinets

When I build custom cabinets with drawers, I install all of the doors first then align the drawer faces to them. This gives me the guidelines to which to set the drawer fronts. If there is a multiple drawer base cabinet, I use the doors on either side of them as a guide. For drawer bases, I usually keep the top drawer the same height as the other base cabinet drawers and size the other drawer fronts in total to equal the height of the door.

Cam systems

There are cam systems on the market for installing fronts, and they work fine, but you have to measure where to install the cams. I recently tried another method to see how well it would work. I first install all of the doors and align them. Next, I drill two holes in the front of the drawer box about 1 inch from the sides inside the drawer box.

For taller drawer boxes, I drill four holes in the box. In this hole, you will put the screw in that fastens through the drawer box and into the drawer front if you want more adjustment drill a hole in the drawer box so you can move the drawer face up, down and side to side. If this is done, use a larger washer behind the screw head to cover the hole inside the drawer.

After the pilot holes are drilled in the drawer boxes, I use strips of duct tape to make a loop and stick it on the front of the drawer box. With the drawer fully closed, I take the drawer face and press it against the drawer box, aligning it with the doors on either side. I hold it in place and pull out the drawer and install one screw from inside the drawer into the drawer front.

Check the alignment

I check the alignment, and if it is ok, I install the other screw to lock it in place. Make sure the mounting screws are at least shorter than the combined thickness of the drawer face and drawer box. If your drawer box is made from material and the face is thick, use a 1″ long screw.

After these screws are in place, you can add more screws for larger drawers and then layout the handle or knob centers. Drill the holes for mounting the hardware through the drawer box and face. Longer screws are usually needed for attaching hardware to the drawers than the doors.