Full-extension vs 3/4-extension drawer slides and why it matters for your drawer design

There are many different types of drawer slides in modern cabinetry. For the purpose of this post, I’m concerned with two types — those that fully extend and those that do not.

A drawer that fully extends can slide out of the cabinet cavity so that the full real estate of the drawer is exposed, as in the photos below.

custom insert for narrow drawer

drawer organizer - Brandi template with scooped dividers

With full-extension drawers, you’ll have no issues with accessing the contents of your drawer, no matter what template you choose on which to build your design.

Moving on to drawers that do not fully extended, like the one below… Note how the rear of the drawer cannot slide out of the cabinet. It stays tucked underneath the countertop, never seeing the light of day.

3-4 extension drawer

For drawers such as these, you’ll need to not get carried away as you design your drawer insert and forget about that difficult-to-access rear area.

The above drawer was well planned. The long brushes are partially tucked away yet still easily accessible. Seldom-used items are stored in the back of the drawer. The designer did well to put the row of narrow compartments in the front of the drawer. If that area were in the back of the drawer, the contents would not be accessible at all without removing the drawer from the cabinet — not something you would want to do every day.

Rule of thumb: if your drawers do not fully extend, avoid having compartments that are oriented side-to-side  in the back of the drawer (as can be seen in the photo below). Compartments oriented front-to-back will be much easier to access.

Hopefully the items stored in the back of the below drawer are seldom needed. If the owner wanted, she could turn the insert 180 degrees in her drawer. This would put the side-to-side compartments in the front and the front-to-back ones in the back of the drawer. All of the contents would then be more easily accessible.

narrow drawer organizer


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