How Does a Drawer Work?



  • Drawers are ingenious containers that can be found tucked into furniture, cabinets, jewelry boxes, and cash registers. We give them special names like a sock drawer, underwear drawer or cash drawer. In our bedroom, they store our clothing and personal items. They hold our files and office supplies at the office. They hold our silverware and kitchen linens in the kitchen. Drawers can be found in every room in the house, including the garage. They can be shallow or deep, narrow or wide, and they may be made from wood, metal, cardboard, and even glass. Some drawers have a handle on the end, which gives a person something to grab onto when they pull the drawer from its opening. We line our drawers with paper. Sometimes we buy elaborate drawer organizers, and we also sometimes curse when drawers get jammed in their openings.


  • When a drawer is closed, it is "parked" inside the cabinet or its primary structure. The opening where the drawer is inserted is slightly larger than the drawer, allowing just enough room for the drawer to slip inside. Some drawers are nothing more than a lidless box with a handle on one end. When the handle is pulled, the drawer is pulled along. If pulled too far, it can simply fall out of the cabinet. Friction can cause these types of drawers to open and close roughly.

    In essence, a drawer can be created by inserting a lidless box between two shelves which are the same width and depth of the box, and where the shelves are separated by the same measurement as the box's height. Drawers that simply slip in and out of the opening--without the benefit of guides--tend to be found in less expensive furniture.


  • Drawer slides are added to drawers to help them move smoothly. They can also prevent the drawer from falling out of the opening by limiting the distance the drawer can be pulled. A drawer slide will be made up of two parts, one that fits along the length of the outside of the drawer. Another part fits in the opening. Two slides are used for each drawer, with one being attached to the right side. The other is attached to the left side. The slide affixed to the drawer fits into the portion of the slide that is attached inside the opening. It is a long narrow mechanism, with the door side sliding in and out of the opening section. Older drawer slides were made from wood and were lubricated with paraffin wax. Some drawers use plastic slides. File cabinets use ball-bearing slides designed for drawers holding heavy objects. This will help the drawer open and close more smoothly, regardless of the weight.

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  • Photo Credit A. Johnson
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