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23-09-21

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ULTIMATE GUIDE: BEST SOFT CLOSE DRAWER SLIDES


The best soft close drawer slides will open easily, close smoothly and be certified for durability. But unfortunately finding a brand name slide that works properly isn’t easy. And, since soft close slides require precision installation, there are a few tools you MUST purchase for proper installation. In this article learn what the best drawer slides are for your projects – and what you need to install them.


First, after building and installing over a thousand drawers, I know drawer slides must be durable and reliable.


First up is understanding what a soft close drawer slide is – and isn’t.


So, as you’d expect, a soft close drawer slide does two things. First, it prevents drawers from slamming through use of a damper that catches the drawer and slows the closing force. Then second, using (preferably) two large springs the soft close mechanism gently pulls the drawer closed.

Is it the same as self closing? No. 

But will a quality soft close drawer slide keep most drawers closed? Yes. 


BEST DRAWER SLIDES FOR CABINETS AND FURNITURE


As with a lot of hardware, there just isn’t a great variety of choices.

While some top brands like Accuride dominate in self closing under mount slides(that are not soft closing!), they just didn’t perform as well as others.

So, based on my reviews and use, here are the top three choices for your next project.


There’s a reason most cabinets offer undermounts as upgrades: they simply perform better.

Because an undermount drawer slide places the weight of the drawer on horizontal rollers (versus steel ball bearings) the drawer action is SMOOTHER. 

For example, the Blum 563H won’t require the hard pull to open like you’d find in a low quality side mount soft close slide. And, since they aren’t metal-on-metal, you’ll find they are quieter as well.


So what’s the catch? You’ll need to make a few custom measurements as these slides don’t use a standard 1/2″ side clearance. Instead, you’ll have a slightly wider drawer and require an extra 1/4″ or so clearance under the drawer to fit the slide.


I was surprised with this drawer slide.

First, they come individually or in packs of 2, 6 and 10 at half the price of most other drawer slides. 

And, while they what I consider a “generic” slide as they aren’t from one of the established manufacturers, their construction was TOP NOTCH when stacked up against the other slides.


And, in a brand test, I’ve put these ahead of the well known Accuride as they simply performed better and were surprisingly quieter when opened and closed. As you know, or don’t, that will matter when you first open and close the door as a “clicking and clacking” sound is one of the hallmarks of poor performing ball bearing slides (soft close or standard). 


Lastly, with their great bundled price, I’ve also installed these in a recent garage workshop makeover. And after loading one drawer (~15″ x 22″) to capacity with heavy screw boxes it has performed fantastic. I’ve even attempted to slam the drawer and it’s damper has worked each time. 


And the Accuride C-3832 drawer slide is a strong competitor.


However, due to price and noise it falls to #4 on the list as it’s performance doesn’t stand out from the competitors to justify it’s hefty price tag.


Curiously, this slide had the #1 issue with side mount ball bearing slides: it opened loud. While most high quality slides have extra “bumpers” to ensure 3 tracks don’t do this my test showed a louder than average click.


However, if you’re an Accuride fan, and want to purchase slides from an industry name, then these slides are something to consider.


For a brand name drawer slide with an industry reputation the Knape & Vogt are an option to the Vadania drawer slides but fall short on closing force. Due to a thinner design (7/16″), single spring design, shorter rail, and among the lowest closing force of all slides I don’t recommend this slide.


 


Unfortunately, this slide attempted a different soft closing mechanism with a single spring and it just didn’t compare head-to-head to the other slides. For that reason, when searching for the best soft close drawer slides I’d pass on the 8400P.


 


I am a fan, however, of the Knape and Vogt TruTrac slides for standard duty ball bearing without soft close.


I was expecting great things from these slides but was disappointed. Due to a sloppy rail when opening and the loudest closing noise these slides just didn’t measure up to the others on this list.


The Promark rear mounting brackets, however, were excellent and worked on all the slides I tested. And I particularly liked the extra wide rear width for easy screw hole access.


I know you want to get to the drawer slides.


But, before we do I want to share a few tips on what else to buy. 


Or, no matter how good the slide is won’t operate correctly, it might fail later, or you may possibly break it during installation:

Drawer slide jigs are a must to properly align your drawers during installation. Most cost less than 1-2 pairs of slides and the Kreg KHI-SLIDE is most popular.


Rear mount brackets are a must for face frame applications as they make installation faster and improve drawer performance with infinite adjustment. I’ve used the ProMark and Lontan and prefer the ProMark as it has a larger rear screw plate.

Drawer screws sent by most manufacturers are inadequate. So, I use Rok #8 truss head screws in both drawer European slides and soft close cabinet hinges as they have a superior hold. 

So, add these 3 to your shopping list and you’ll experience a MUCH SMOOTHER installation.


Don’t want hardware on the front of your drawers? 


Well, you’re in luck if you have a frameless design to your cabinets. By adding push to close to an undermount soft close drawer slide you can gently push the drawer front and the drawer will glide partly open.


While these aren’t cheap, you can factor in the savings of not having to purchase additional hardware (and install them).


Who makes these? A few options:


King under mount push to open slides that have this feature built-in


Blum TIP-ON is an accessory to their TANDEM slides that can be added to any compatible drawer to upgrade to push to open.


Heavy Duty Undermount Soft Close Drawer Slides


While heavy duty drawer slides, for me, start around 150 pounds there are a few options for soft close drawer slides at 125 pounds:

Blum heavy duty under mount with 125 pound capacity


SOFT CLOSE DRAWER SLIDE RATINGS


We’ll go through each drawer slide in detail, but after my testing I ranked the slides as follows. A few aren’t easy to find, so I’ve included links for buying now – and most are most economical in a 6 or 10-pack (just divide by quantity to get per unit).


Lastly, don’t forget rear mounting brackets, screws and a drawer slide jig when installing these soft close drawer slides


Drawer slides can be as easy or as hard as you allow them, and it all depends on what type of slide you choose. In this guide we are going to cover the many different types of Drawer slides on the market, the many different ways a slide can be fitted into a cabinet, and then some help tips for you to decide which is the ideal type you need for your application.   This is allot to cover especially when you consider that a drawer slide should be a very simple device to buy and install, but the reality is there are allot of external factors you must consider. 


Different types of Drawer Slide


Drawer slides, or as they are sometimes called a drawer rollers, are a type of mechanism that allows smooth linear motion in one axis. They are most commonly used in pairs and found in a huge range of applications, mostly kitchen cabinets. Drawer slides generally work by having one component to slide over a slightly larger or smaller component of equal shape with roller bearings between them to create the smooth rolling function, which allows the entire mechanism to extend or retract. Drawer slides are not motorized but can be if  a linear actuator is attached to provide the hands free motion for you. Generally, you will use drawer slides on their own and will likely encounter only two main types: Ball-Bearing Slides & Roller Slides.


Roller slides consists of two components, the sliding main member strut and the fixed cabinet drawer strut. These types of slides are not fixed together until after you have attached them to both the drawer and the fixed cabinet.  Only then can you slide the drawer into position and they then slide in and out freely. 


Each strut having one wheel attached at each end is what allows the slides to run freely but it has its limitations.  Having only onw wheel to carry the load is a huge disadvantage. This means that the load carried by the entire drawer and its contents is all focused onto the one wheel at either side of the cabinet drawer. This point load can be large for cabinets that need to carry more load and will eventually result in failure.   Another thing to note is that the plastic wheels are not mounted onto bearings, they are simply plastic wheels on a metal axel that will eventually cause noise or wear problems at some point during its lifetime. One main advantage of these is that they are very cheap to purchase from any hardware store.


17mm ball bearing slides as you can see from the image above are completely different to Roller slides. These make use of ball bearings encased in a bearing cage so they don't fall out, and some models offer a telescopic motion. By telescopic we mean that the Rails have 3 or more members that once combined together are able to extend the same distance or more than their total closed length. This great use of space is what gives them such a great appeal because the drawers are then able to slide out 100% of the drawers depth in a cabinet, where-as using a roller slide you can typically only achieve around 75% opening. 


These types of slide rails offer extreme rigidity of the draw when fully opened or closed and allows them to carry a significant amount of weight. Plus the are easy to install as they have many hole patterns pre drilled along the length of each member for attaching them to both the fixed cabinet and the cabinet drawer. To open the the slides so that they can be installed simply press the lever down to unlock the full extended opening. Please view the video further down this article to see how to do that. Please note however not all Drawer slides come with the lever feature to take apart the drawer slides, all FIRGELLI drawer slides do have this feature however. 


Ball-bearing drawer slides provide a huge durability life span and have much larger load rating compared to roller slides. Within our range of Ball Bearing slides we do even offer a very heavy duty type. Click here to view them.  Heavy duty versions of ball-bearing slides 






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