How to Replace Drawer Slides on Old Cabinets

When you're busy preparing a meal, there's nothing more annoying than a faulty drawer slide that either jams the drawer or causes it to jump off its slides and collapse. When this happens, it's time to go shopping and break out a couple of tools. Replacing worn drawer runners with new slides that glide in and out on ball bearings is fairly straightforward. If you can handle a cordless drill/driver and a hacksaw, you can replace a faulty drawer slide in minutes.

Pull the drawer out and lift the front to remove it. Empty the contents and unscrew both glides from the sides of the drawer with a cordless drill/driver. These can be positioned either on the top, middle or bottom of the drawer.

Remove the drawer runners by undoing the attaching screws holding the plastic hardware mounting brackets to the back of the cabinet, together with the screws holding the front of the runners to the inside faces on both sides of the drawer opening.

Take the old slides to a kitchen cabinet hardware supplier and buy a new set of glides and runners fitted with ball bearing rollers. Make sure the package contains the plastic hardware mounting brackets and all the necessary replacement screws. If you can't find an exact match, get the next longest set.

Measure the length of the old glides and side runners with a steel measuring tape if the replacement hardware is slightly longer. Transfer these measurements to the new hardware and mark the cut lines with a carpenter's square and pencil. Cut the new hardware down to size with a hacksaw, and clean up the ragged edges with a file.

Screw the new glides to the side of the drawer flush with the top edge of the drawer, using new screws and the cordless drill/driver.

Slide the plastic hardware mounting bracket onto the back of the left hand drawer runner and insert it through the opening. Screw the front of the left drawer runner to the left inside face of the drawer opening so that the top edge butts against the top rail.

Hold a spirit level along the bottom of the drawer runner and centre the bubble. Push the bracket against the back of the cabinet and mark a line across the bottom edge with a pencil. Place the spirit level horizontally across the back of the cabinet. Line the top of the spirit level up with the pencil mark and centre the bubble. Use the top of the spirit level as a guide and draw a horizontal line across the back of the cabinet.

Slide the mounting bracket over the end of the right hand drawer runner and attach the front of the runner to the right side on the top of the drawer opening the same way you attached the left runner.

Measure the distance between the inside faces of both drawer runners screwed to the sides of the drawer opening. Position the mounting brackets on the back of the cabinet, equally spaced on either side. Adjust the brackets so that the distance between the inside faces of the runners is the same as the distance between the inside faces on the front of the runners. Line the bottom edge of the brackets up with the line across the back, and mark the mounting holes by drawing circles with the tip of a pencil through the holes in the brackets.

Drill small pilot holes through the centre of the marked circles. Screw the mounting brackets to the back of the cabinet with the screws provided.

Lift the drawer front and slot the side rollers into the drawer runners. Push the drawer back while lowering the front. Slide the drawer in and out to test the action of your new hardware.


Many older cabinets do not have side partitions fitted to the inside of the cabinet dividing the drawer openings. If your cabinet has side partitions, screw the drawer runners to the partitions through the two attaching holes spaced along the length of the runners. If there is a gap between the sides of the runners and the partition, place suitable wood shims between the faces before attaching the side runners to the partitions.

Things You'll Need

  • Cordless drill/driver
  • Steel measuring tape
  • Carpenter's square
  • Pencil
  • Hacksaw
  • File
  • Spirit level
  • Set of drill bits
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About the Author

After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand and qualifying as an aircraft engineer, Ian Kelly joined a Kitchen remodeling company and qualified as a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD). Kelly then established an organization specializing in home improvement, including repair and maintenance of household appliances, garden equipment and lawn mowers.