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Thread: integrated drawer fronts on kitchen cabinets

  1. #1
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    integrated drawer fronts on kitchen cabinets

    Looking for pro's and con's of doing kitchen drawers like this. I hate the look of drawers with applied door fronts, but that's typically how they are done. Doing a integrated door front with inset doors/drawers would be taking it to the next level, and blum adjustable drawer glides makes it even more of a possibility. Finishing could present some challenges, unless nothing more than a clear finish was used on everything. Perhaps pre-staining the drawer fronts before assembly would be an option. I'm sure there are other things to consider. What say you...

  2. #2
    I hate wasting material which is how I view an applied drawer front. I built a kitchen island with inset drawers with all dovetail corners without an applied drawer front. A more questionable thing I did was to dovetail the cherry front to the Baltic birch drawer sides. I finished them with 3 coats of water based poly inside and out and had no issues. I did not use drawer slides, the construction was like a dresser, wood on wood sliding. I waxed the frames and the bottom of the drawers and we thought they worked fine. Deleting the drawer slides saved money and space (drawers could be 1 inch wider). If you use drawer slides, would you use sliding dovetails to join the sides to the drawer front? I've also done dovetailed drawers with the front rabbeted which would work.

  3. #3
    I'm with you. I dislike false fronts and overlaid doors and drawer fronts. I much prefer the look of inset doors and drawers. That said, even with adjustable drawer glides and hinges, getting all the gaps to match will take some patience and very likely they will require occasional retuning. Not impossible but something to keep in mind.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    I hate wasting material which is how I view an applied drawer front. I built a kitchen island with inset drawers with all dovetail corners without an applied drawer front. A more questionable thing I did was to dovetail the cherry front to the Baltic birch drawer sides. I finished them with 3 coats of water based poly inside and out and had no issues. I did not use drawer slides, the construction was like a dresser, wood on wood sliding. I waxed the frames and the bottom of the drawers and we thought they worked fine. Deleting the drawer slides saved money and space (drawers could be 1 inch wider). If you use drawer slides, would you use sliding dovetails to join the sides to the drawer front? I've also done dovetailed drawers with the front rabbeted which would work.
    Jim, would most likely do half blind dovetails and hidden/undermount glides.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Richards View Post
    I'm with you. I dislike false fronts and overlaid doors and drawer fronts. I much prefer the look of inset doors and drawers. That said, even with adjustable drawer glides and hinges, getting all the gaps to match will take some patience and very likely they will require occasional retuning. Not impossible but something to keep in mind.
    Agree Dave, as nice as the Blum's are, they arent exactly "precision", but they are really easy to adjust.

  5. #5
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    You're combining two different concepts: overlay, and integration. You can make inset doors and drawer fronts with the usual applied fronts. That gets you away from the usual kitchen look, but keeps the construction/finishing/adjustment advantages of the applied front.

  6. #6
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    This is a small issue, but using the typical undermount slide with an integrated front takes some fiddling. The slide is really built to use with an applied front. The case member of the slide comes 1/2" forward of the front of the fixing clip. That is, if you just screw the fixing clip to the back of the integrated drawer front, you'll find the case member colliding with the integrated drawer front. You can fix the problem in either of two ways. You can saw off the front half inch or so of the case member. Or you can space the fixing clip a half inch backwards, and push the whole drawer slide backwards that 1/2". If you do this, you do have to build the drawer a half inch deeper.

  7. #7
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    It works fine if you do all the math correctly when figuring out the drawer depth. Just remember to calculate from the back of the front when figuring out the side length, no issue there. I've done it a few times. For production situations applied fronts require a lot less thinking and fitting is much easier, plus for some designs like paneled fronts half blind integral dovetails are basically impossible. For inset drawer I couldn't care less, one down side of integral versus applied for kitchens is in a hard working space, you damage a front, you replace the drawer, not just the applied front. Make sure to leave our fronts a little big, I found it easier to mount the drawer and fit in place on the actual slides, those blums are very sloppy, which has its pluses and minuses, just adjust to the actual travel path and it goes fine. I pre colored my fronts, taped the dovetails, sanded everything blind fitted prior, works fine, don't go glue crazy.
    "A good miter set up is like yoga pants: it makes everyone's butts look good." Prashun Patel

  8. #8
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    Great points so far. At this point it feels more like a "I'm doing it this way to prove I can" approach. I'm not seeing any real benefits.

  9. #9
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    Even though pretty much 100% of my drawers in projects are inset, I still use the applied drawer front. Yes, I lose a half inch of depth that way, but I find it to be easier fitting and finishing. And if the drawer fronts are using "special" material, especially across several drawers and filler panels, I reduce the chance of blowing up something really nice through a mistake in dovetailing, etc., if I use an applied drawer front. I would likely do an integral drawer front for something that is considered "fine furniture", but for cabinetry, I prefer the applied front.

    This is obviously a very subjective thing and the maker should use the method that is most suitable and pleasant to them.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
    Fine Woodworking [#198pg. 68 May 1, 2008] has a decent article on undermount drawer slides and their integration into fine cabinets and furniture. The article looks into various uses, including:
    Applied front overlay
    Applied front inset
    Integral front inset


    They make the case that with Integral front inset drawers the drawer slide normally would be very close to the drawer opening/cabinet face, and the shiny hardware will be fairly visible while the drawer is closed. The article offers suggestions, including:

    Permanent black magic-marker applied to the ~3/32” leading edge of the slide.
    Add a 5/8” spacer block under the drawer, and move the slide mount back 5/8”.
    Recess the slide end behind a ~1/8” drawer-face lip, or
    Recess the slide mount behind a ~1/8” applied molding [like a cock bead applied to the case side at each drawer opening].


    One other point, the side clearance varies between make and model of undermount slide. The dimension of setback/lip/molding will vary accordingly.


    As others have said, you'll spend more time adjusting an integral front inset drawer. Blum has a specific mount for inset drawers which allows for in and out adjustment, if you use Blum undermounts make sure you specify that specific mount. Without the in and out adjustment, you'll have to mount each slide for proper depth...and they vary enough that you probably can't use a standard jig setting.

    For me, the Blum adjustability would be easiest and I love the traditional integral inset drawer-front look, otherwise I might just tolerate the applied front. IMO ANY of the slides you select for inset use should have a "slotted" screw mount. Blum and Accuride offer this, not everyone does.

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