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13th Aug 2013


The distance between the cabinet and drawer is critical if you intend to use a ball bearing drawer slide.

Most slide manufacturers refer to this as ‘side space tolerance’ and it will vary depending on the slide you chose. Always refer to the manufacturers’ installation guides; we can only talk here about the side space needed for Accuride drawer slides.

First you need to know the slide thickness

Look at the cross section drawings or the slide thickness measurements given for each of the slides.
For best performance it is important that the slide has room to move freely.

However, it is also important to understand that ball bearing slides cannot absorb large gap deviations between the cabinet and drawer. The space must be consistent along the whole length of the slide. Also, it must not be too large; this will pull the slide members apart and cause movement problems.

Side space must always be greater than the slide thickness

We recommend that you allow between +0.2mm and +0.5mm over the slide thickness.
For example, the 3832 slide is 12.7mm thick, therefore the side space should be between 12.9 and 13.2mm.

However, there are some slides that will need a different formula for working out the slide space. For the 5321 series of slides only, allow between +0.5mm and +0.9mm over the slide thickness.

Side space tolerance

Some slides are designed to allow a little bit of side space tolerance, which is often needed in woodworking projects.

Look out for slides with breathing tabs; a small tongue of metal with a U slot around it. This allows the tip of the tongue to bend just a little bit to help absorb those tricky tolerances.

Technical tip

Always read the manufacturer’s installation guide – not all slides will need the same side space allowance.

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