Today we’re talking through the steps we took to install drawer fronts onto the drawer boxes of our inset cabinetry.
Our kitchen is progressing nicely and we’re getting very close to a point where we’ll have countertops and running water again! This will be a massive game changer for us, since it will mean that we can move our makeshift kitchen sink out of the bathroom. In the meantime, we’ve been working hard to fine-tune and dial in all of the cabinetry, drawers and doors. This week, we wrapped up installing the drawer fronts onto all of the drawer boxes. Here’s how what we used and how we got it done as efficiently as possible!
Note: Our process was adapted from this cabinet joint video tutorial, but with a few tweaks to suit our needs.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Step 1 | Align Drawer Boxes Within Cabinets
When we’re performing a repetitive task, we love to create jigs or slugs to make the job simpler, faster and eliminate tedious measuring. In this case, we knew we’d be aligning fronts and measuring for screws inside 17 different drawer boxes, so we created a slug that performed a couple of different functions. First, our slug is the exact thickness (3/4″) of our cabinet doors and drawer fronts, so we used it to ensure that our drawer fronts would be perfectly flush with the cabinet faces. We then adjusted our drawer glides inward or outward accordingly using the small sliding set screws at the front of the track.
Step 2 | Mark + Drill Pilot Holes
Our slug’s second function was to aid us in marking for our pilot holes. We used it to mark a line 3/4″ in from each side and across the top and bottom for perfectly aligned cabinet screws. This keeps things looking great inside the cabinets and also distributes fastening force evenly across the entire drawer box.
Once our pilot holes were evenly spaced and marked, we used a 1/16″ bit to drill all of the way through the drawer boxes.
Step 3 | Install Double-Sided Tape and Press on Drawer Front
Our next step was to install double-sided foam tape at each corner. This tape has just the right amount of stickiness to hold the drawer fronts in place, but can be easily removed if repositioning becomes necessary. It’s also thin enough that it completely compresses between the drawer box and drawer front, and will remain in place permanently and invisibly.
Aligning the gap spacing on the inset drawer fronts is potentially the trickiest part of this job. The 3/32″ gap on all four sides is adjustable to a degree, but getting it correct the first time is very beneficial in the long run. Thanks to the advice of a handful of clever instagram followers, we stacked 8 playing cards and taped them together with delicate painter’s tape to create a spacer of the perfect thickness. On the bottom, we found that a paint stick was just the right thickness. With our spacers in place, it was as simple as pushing the drawer front firmly onto the drawer box so the double-sided tape could hold everything in place prior to fastening.
Step 4 |
With the drawer front held in place with foam tape, we were able to gently squeeze two quick clamps onto the drawers to hold them perfectly secure. This step isn’t totally necessary, as the tape doesn’t really allow things to shift, but we found it easier to drive our fasteners with both hands completely free.
We then used our specialty cabinet screws to fasten everything into place from inside the drawer box. We love these screws for a couple of reasons; The gold finish blends into the maple tone of the cabinet boxes much nicer than traditional black wood screws. They also have an integrated washer that creates a flat bottom and provides great clamping force.
Step 5 | Install Temporary Hardware
Since inset cabinetry allows cabinet doors and drawers to recess perfectly into the cabinet face frames, we needed to create some temporary hardware. We like to fold blue painters tape onto itself and overlap the end about 3/4″. We then tape it to the inside of the drawer box until we’re ready to install the actual hardware. Done!
The (Almost) Finished Product!
We’ve been incredibly pleased with our experience purchasing cabinets from Cabinet Joint and we love how well everything fits together. The quality is top notch and their customer service team has been incredible to work with. Special thanks to James, who has been a fantastic resource throughout the process!
Moving on from here, our countertops are scheduled for install in about a week and we absolutely can’t wait to get them in place. We’re right on time with our projected schedule and will have our hands full with appliance fronts, finish carpentry, tile and plumbing work once countertops are in place. Stay tuned!
PS – If you’re just catching up on our kitchen renovation, here’s how it started, here’s the plan for the layout, here is a big progress update, here is a big update on our new flooring. These are our initial thoughts on the new appliances, this is how we overcame some cabinet install obstacles and this is how we’ve gotten by for 2 months without a working kitchen.