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Understanding Drawer Channels

So you are ready with your furniture, and the time has come to select the drawer channels. Or slides? Or runners? Getting confused between all these terms!! Read below and then make the right selection of drawer system for your furniture work. You can get all these channels or systems here.

Basically there are two types of drawer systems based on technique: Roller based and Ball Bearing based and two types of drawer systems based on placement: Slides and Runners.

Roller based systems are the more traditional and older drawer channels, These are typically attached to the bottom edge of the drawers (Runners). Their main advantage is value-for-money and budget pricing. They however are suitable only for light weight applications. These roller based runners have rollers made of steel or other material like nylon.

Ball bearing based systems are more advanced and much popular systems these days. As the name indicates, they rely upon a set of steel or plastic ball bearings that run in profiles and allow for drawer movement. They come in a variety of sizes and are suitable for a wide range and load of drawer systems. In terms of price, these tend to be more expensive vis-a-vis roller based systems. They are also highly resistant to wear and tear and offer more durability.

Drawer runners are the channels that are fixed to the bottom edge of the drawers. These are more used in high end solid wood furniture. But compared to slides, they have their drawbacks in terms of lower durability and being less smooth in operations. Also, they require a higher degree of craftsmanship for fixing. Plus they are better suited for light weight drawers. 

Drawer slides are the channels are fixed to the side of the drawers and to the side of the frames holding the drawers. These are also known as telescopic channels, as their movement is in stages like a telescope. First the part of the channel attached to the drawer opens or extend and then the intermediate part of the channel.

Both the runners and slides typically operate on the ball bearing technique.

Each drawer channel is specified by its length, which is the length of the channel when it is fully closed. The length of the channel needed for your furniture work would depend on the drawer size and depth. Also for each drawer channel, you would have to know the load bearing capacity of the channel i.e. the amount of weight the channel would have to carry including the weight of the drawer as well as the items within the drawer. Typically it is advised to have channels with 50% extra load bearing capacity.

Besides these, there are special types of drawer channels having specific properties:

- Full extension, partial extension and over extension channels: As the names indicate, in full extension channels, the channels extend fully so as to allow the drawers to come out. Helpful in cases where you need to access even the deepest space in the drawer. In partial extension channels, the drawers come out only partially, typically half. While the runners can be full or partial extension, the slides are almost always full extension. Over extension slides are those which allow the back of the drawer to go even past the front edge of the drawer frame. In full extension channels, the back of the drawer can come level or flush with the front edge of the drawer frame. Click here to buy these!

- Soft-close slides: These channels prevent drawers being slammed when getting closed, especially useful to prevent those freak injuries like fingers coming in slamming drawers etc. So if you have small child at home, these might be ideal for you. Click here to buy these!

- Push to open slides: Typically you would need a handle or a groove to open the drawer, an alternate is to use the push-to-open drawer channels, You can just gently tap or push the drawers to open them. Click here to buy these.


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