When is a drawer too wide or too big?



Wide drawer in kitchenWide cabinet drawers are popular these days, but how wide is too wide? The rule of thumb is 1.5 times the length of the drawer slide. If you have a standard depth kitchen cabinet then the normal length of drawer slide is 22”. If you multiply 22” x 1.5 = 33”. You can go wider, but the wider you go the more chance that the slide will not pull out as smoothly as you hope or expect.

The reason that the width is a problem, is physics and geometry, not the quality of the slides. The simplest answer is that you will always have more drag on one slide than the other, so one side of the drawer starts sticking, which then compounds the problem of the drawer not sliding out evenly and then it just gets worse. Add to this that you will not be pulling the drawer out from exactly the center.

To help overcome this problem, try a different type of drawer slide. Undermount drawer slides have a different geometry to the guide system which helps keep them pulling straighter. Also a heavier duty slide with thicker steel will help prevent deflection of the slide for a straighter pull. Neither of these will eliminate the problem, but may help if you are on the margin.

Besides the aforementioned technical problems with a wide drawer, the ergonomics of a big drawer can present other problems too. Bigger drawers tend to attract more weight, more weight means you have to use more force/energy to pull out the drawer. While this is not an issue for a drawer you only pull out occasionally, with a drawer you use all the time this could become tiresome. Also, larger drawers can become disorganized more easily and should have permanent compartments or dividers to keep items in place.