How to measure for drawer slides

Written by jim wildman | 13/05/2017
How to measure for drawer slides
A typical drawer uses metal slides at each side. (kitchen drawer image by Christopher Hall from

When building a new set of cabinets, or just upgrading an existing set, you'll need to measure the drawers for new drawer slides. There are many styles of drawer slides, each with their own specifications for the drawer to fit correctly. The do-it-yourself handyman can measure for drawer slides with just a tape measure, pencil and paper.

Open the drawer of an existing cabinet and remove it to gain access to the face frame. The face frame is the wood on the front of the cabinet that the cabinet doors mount upon.

Place a tape measure through the drawer opening and measure the cabinet's depth. The tape needs to extend from the back of the cabinet to the inside of the cabinet's face frame. This is the maximum depth that your drawer hardware can be. Most drawer slides are designed to work within 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) of this dimension.

Place the tip of the tape measure to the left of the rough opening and pull it straight across to the opposite side. You are measuring the distance between the two stiles of the face frame. This is the width of the rough opening. Write down this dimension; you will need it when you order your drawers. Most drawer hardware requires 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) of space between the drawer side and the face frame.

Measure the height of the cabinet rough opening. Most drawer slides need a minimum of 6 mm (1/4 inch) below the drawer and 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the drawer. If ordering new drawers, the cabinet supplier will need this dimension.

Check the specifications for the drawer hardware that you are using for specific dimension requirements.


Decide on the drawer thickness you want; the thickness will be needed when ordering the drawer slides.

Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Tape measure

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