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Thread: Bathroom vanity drawer question

  1. #1
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    Bathroom vanity drawer question

    I need to build a bathroom vanity. My wife does not like the bottom-mount soft-close metal guides used on almost all production vanities - she doesn’t like the difficulty of opening them. And she thinks they are “loud.” I don’t care for the look metal side-mount glides. If I go with all wood construction and just run the drawers on the web frames, will the moist environment create a problem and prevent the drawers from sliding smoothly?

    I am not that experienced in drawer making and am concerned that the tight tolerances required for smooth operation may lead to binding issues in the bathroom environment.

    Thanks,
    Gary

  2. #2
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    An alternative way to hang the drawer is to have runners along the side and slots in the sides of the drawer.

    The bottom drawer on this book stand was done that way:

    Side View.jpg

    From the front the drawer looks like a decorative kick plate. The drawer hands on wooden rails on either side of the case.

    Yes, the two more conventional drawers in the top do tend to get tight on the web frames with a tendency to require extra force to open and close them during some weather cycles.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
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    Jim,

    I have considered that method. What is the minimum recommended thickness of the drawer sides to use that method? Would 1/2” be too thin?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Focht View Post
    Jim,

    I have considered that method. What is the minimum recommended thickness of the drawer sides to use that method? Would 1/2” be too thin?
    It would likely depend on how much weight the drawer will hold. In my case the drawer will not be holding much. The sides are 1/2" and the slots are about a 1/4".

    Use a slick hardwood, like ash, for the runners. Plastic strips might be good if you have them.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  5. #5
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    +1 on HDPE runners. They're available in uniform thicknesses from purveyors like Tickler. It's stable enough to last indefinitely (regardless of humidity) but soft enough to shape by hand. I apply these as drawer guides with countersunk screws - no glue required.

  6. #6
    I have a cupboard in my bathroom that I made in 1980, been in the bathroom since 1985. The drawer runs on the framing. As of this morning, there is 1/32 inch of clearance on one side when the drawer is pushed tight to the other side, and 1/32 or a little more clearance in height. The drawer is 4X18X20 and has not been waxed since day one.

    I would make the vanity first, then make the drawer to fit the opening.

  7. #7
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    Warren:

    What kind of wood did you use for the drawer sides and framing that has lasted well in a bathroom? Were the sides quartersawn?

    Thanks

  8. #8
    Gary,

    I know I'll poo poo'd but I often use the good old epoxy slides frequently in vanities. They can save me quite a bit of cost. They really aren't that noticeable.

    I move the drawer back about 2" toward to account for the 3/4 extension.

    Personally I wouldn't do dado'ed drawer slides in a bathroom.

  9. #9
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Schwabacher View Post
    Warren:

    What kind of wood did you use for the drawer sides and framing that has lasted well in a bathroom? Were the sides quartersawn?

    Thanks
    I used soft maple, Acer rubrum, which is a high quality cabinet wood. The drawer sides were not quartersawn. In the winter the humidity in the bathroom is probably not as low as the rest of the house. In the summer there is an open window almost all the time. I never gave it a thought that there might be trouble.

  11. #11
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    Being an "old fashioned" guy, I like all wood drawer mechanisms..I make the runners etc myself to fit the openings.
    Later, a block plane and a bar of soap ease the fit and allows for seasonal changes..
    I personally do not like the metal intruding on the all hardwood construction...Just my 2 cents worth.
    Enjoy your build.
    Jerry

  12. #12
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    I personally do not like the metal intruding on the all hardwood construction...Just my 2 cents worth.
    +1 on that and here's my 2˘ Two Cents.png.

    Even with most of my projects being in softwoods.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 08-12-2019 at 12:32 PM. Reason: Even with most of my projects being in softwoods.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  13. #13
    One of the easiest to install, cheapest and slickest operating drawer slides is the top-center rail with plastic glide attached at the top of the drawer's back. (shown inverted from the way I install them)

    prime-line-drawer-track-guides-r-7084-64_400_compressed.jpg
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  14. #14
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I’m probably going to go with all wood construction. If they run into troubles down the road that some hand planing can’t fix, I’ll just make new drawers.

    My wife wants an all white bathroom, so it will be painted. Should I build the vanity from poplar or perhaps soft maple?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Focht View Post
    [edited]
    My wife wants an all white bathroom, so it will be painted. Should I build the vanity from poplar or perhaps soft maple?
    If it is going to be painted, my suggestion would be to make it from what you have on hand or which ever is less expensive to acquire.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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