How to Measure Replace a Broken Drawer
Replace any drawer with basic carpentry skills.
Most drawers are not built to take punishment. If they are slammed or bind and are then forced, they will break. It’s not so bad if they just come apart — you can glue them back — but if you break the dado from the bottom, which is quite typical, or split the sides of the drawer, it needs to be replaced.You can replace any broken drawer using only basic carpenter tools and skills. If you’re upgrading your home for resale, make sure your built-in drawers are working properly. You can rebuild the drawer using the old hardware and drawer front.
Remove the broken drawer from the cabinet and place it on a worktable. Use a screwdriver to loosen two screws that hold the front of the drawer onto the drawer box. Remove the drawer front and set it aside.
Turn the drawer box upside down. If it falls apart, just place the bottom of the drawer on the table face down. Use a screwdriver to remove the steel runners from both sides.
Tap on all four sides of the drawer with a hammer to disassemble it. You should have five pieces, two, 3/4-inch thick pieces for the front and back, two, 1/2-inch thick pieces for the sides, and a 1/4-inch thick piece of plywood for the bottom.
Measure the width of the front and back piece. Using a table saw, rip a strip of 3/4-inch plywood long enough for both pieces. Measure the side pieces. Use the table saw to rip a strip of 1/2-inch plywood to that width. Measure the length of the sides and back. Use a miter saw to cut them to length.
Install a 1/4-inch dado blade on the table saw. Raise the blade to 1/4-inch. Set the fence at 1/4-inch. Turn on the saw and run the sides, front and back over the blade to create a 1/4-inch dado, 1/4-inch from one edge on all four pieces.
Place all four pieces together as if the drawer were already assembled. The front and back should be between the side pieces. The dado should be at the bottom. Measure the length and width on the inside of the drawer and add 1/2 inch. Use the table saw to cut the 1/4-inch plywood to that measurement.
Run a bead of glue inside the dado on all four pieces. Smear some glue on the ends of the front and back. Place the plywood in the dado on the side pieces. Place the front and back on, fitting the dado over the edge. Bring all four pieces together at the same time to lock the plywood into the dado. Shoot four 1 1/4-inch pin nails through each corner.
Drill two 3/16-inch holes through the front of the new drawer. Using the screw gun and 1 1/4-inch screws, screw the drawer front on the new drawer. Place the steel runners back on the bottom sides and screw them on using 3/4-inch screws. Place the new drawer back into the cabinet.
Things You Will Need
- Table saw
- 3/4-inch hardwood plywood
- 1/2-inch hardwood plywood
- 1/4-inch hardwood plywood
- Tape measure
- 1/4-inch dado blade
- Pin nailer
- Pin nails, 1 1/4-inch
- Cordless drill/screw gun
- 3/16-inch drill bit
- 1 1/4-inch screws
- 3/4-inch screws
- If your runners are worn, you might as well replace them too. Just purchase the same model, make and length. You probably won’t have to replace the runners on the cabinet. Drawer building materials may differ slightly. Some are composites, some are hardwood. Plywood works well for any drawer, but you can use any material you like.
- Always wear safety glasses when operating a table saw or working with wood.
About the Author
Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.