“Cabinetry 101” Part 3: Hardware

“Cabinetry 101” Part 3: Hardware

Kitchen drawers and doors are opened and closed by family members typically hundreds of times every year.  Children living in any household will contribute to cumulative wear on hinges and hardware quicker than if a single adult uses a kitchen over a period of years.  Over the last decade, cabinet hardware has taken monumental leaps in technology when it comes to door hinges and drawer hardware, making even the most economical cabinet choice a long term solution to cabinetry replacement.

It’s Just a Hinge, Right? 


Depending on the cabinet construction (framed, frameless, inset), the ability to adjust a door can be critical for the doors operation, as well as important to look as it was intended.  The most flexibility exists on a framed cabinet with a standard overlay (1/2”-1”+) because there is the most room (literally) for imperfections.  When a door has tight tolerances as in a full overlay style, in frameless construction, and especially in inset; the tolerance for door imperfections can be as little as 1/16”- 1/32” of an inch.

Hidden adjustable hinges on cabinet doors allow for as much as 6-way adjustment to doors.  This allows for leveling top to bottom, left to right, as well as in and out.  Having door operation that is perfect ought to be critical for the function and beauty of any investment in cabinetry, no matter the level.  Check with your designer who can provide insight into the hinge mechanism capability in the cabinet line you are interested in.

Drawer Operation:

Cabinet drawers withstand thousands of “opens and closes” per year in any kitchen or bathroom that is used regularly.  They must withstand the weight of their contents, jarring movement, and sometimes the weight of small children!

One of the biggest reasons consumers feel the need to replace cabinetry is the failure of interior hardware and shelves.  If your investment in your cabinetry is intended to last 10-20 years, then the operation of drawers is critical to the longevity of your plan.

Let’s start by looking at the drawer construction.  Drawers can be made with composite material or plywood; but the sturdiest boxes are made with solid wood construction.  Observe the corners of the box to see how they are joined.  Some drawer boxes are lap jointed and stapled, whereas the best drawer construction will be a form of dove-tail construction.  Look at the bottom panel.  Bottom panels are usually not as thick as the sidewalls, however must be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of silverware and canned goods.

Roll out trays have become increasingly popular in recent years.  Available in different heights, they can be helpful when accessing low cavities like base cabinets, and easily cluttered areas like pantries.  They can hold everything from pots and pans, to tall cereal type boxes and heavy canned goods.  The best roll out trays, which are actually just drawer boxes, can hold weights up to 100 lbs.  Determine what is necessary for your drawer boxes based on what you plan to store in them.

Glide hardware is the next critical part to your drawer boxes.  Side mount drawer hardware is only the starting point, being basically functional at its best.  Side mounts may be fine for powder room vanities, or areas not enduring high use.  But if you want other benefits and longevity, you should upgrade to a more sophisticated drawer glide.

The following are a list of capabilities of most under-mount drawer glides:


Under-mount placement allows for the widest drawer box possible, maximizing your drawer storage space

Under-mount drawers can easily be removed and put back with the simple release of the mechanism to retrieve jammed objects

Under-mount hardware can be specified as “full extension”, increasing the depth accessibility of drawers by as much as 3”

Under-mount drawers can be specified as “self-closing” which allows for the drawer to simply be “pushed”, and it will close on its own

Ask your designer to demonstrate different drawer capabilities in the showroom, and you will quickly see all the different options you have.  Not all capabilities are standard, so be sure to be clear about which operations are important to you to include.

Stay tuned for the last in our 4 Part Series “Cabinetry 101”:  Door Construction

If you missed Part 1 and 2, visit our site under recent posts for:  “Cabinetry 101” (Part 1 and Part 2)And for live help with choosing the best cabinetry for your project contact our design team today!