Monday, February 27, 2012

Ikea Expedit drawers

Of course Ikea does sell neat drawer sets to fit the Expedit blocks. But compared to the bargain that Expedit is, they’re pretty expensive – and the sliding mechanism and surround also take up a relatively large amount of space -  leaving one with a pretty puny drawer.
Given the maximum size that a drawer in an Expedit block can be, it’s unlikely to have to be mega strong. These MDF drawers which run smoothly and snugly on felt pads provide maximum storage and are plenty sturdy enough – we store shoe cleaning supplies in one, and vacuum cleaner / dustpan stuff in the other.
Here’s what the finished drawers look like (the ones on the right, duh) next to the Ikea ones:
The completed drawers (right) with Ikea drawers (left). 
Interested? Read on for the simple directions:
I used 8mm thick MDF (that’s fiberboard, supawood or medium depending where you live). A small wood supplier / hardware shop who will cut to size for you is ideal for this, as you generally don’t have to buy a whole 244 X122cm sheet of wood from them.
The top drawer sits on an inverted U-shaped support which the bottom drawer fits inside. For this support frame – which needs to fit snugly in the Expedit block, I used 5mm thick offcuts which I happened to have lying about. This means that the width measurement of the bottom drawer is 10mm less (5mm + 5mm) than the top drawer. With thicker or thinner wood, or indeed thicker or thinner felt, the measurements should be adjusted.
Here’s a picture showing the support frame in place, so you get an idea of what I’m talking about : (Photo 2)
Photo 2 - showing U-support, felts (Drawers stacked sideways on above)

The height of the gap for top drawer (measured from the top of the U-support- see the bright green line on the photo 2) should be half of the height of the Expedit cavity (so 16,75cm - see), and the support should not reach all the way to the front. This is so that the drawer fronts (which fill the whole space) will fit in. You don’t have to be too neurotic about the height measurements because the drawer fronts can be positioned a little further up or down on the drawer carcasses to allow for any [small] discrepancies in the height allowance for the top vs the bottom drawer.
So for the U-support in 5mm wood, the measurements I used were :
16,2 X 33,4 cm (X2) for the sides and 33,4 X 33,4 for the top
I glued the U-support together. I wanted it to be secured in the Expedit, so it doesn’t slip around when you pull the drawers. But I wanted it to be removable, too – so I stuck a strip of masking tape to sides of the Expedit, and glued the support to the masking tape. So far so secure. I guess flat double-sided tape would work, too.
For the drawers themselves, you need (all measurements in centimeters, all wood 8mm MDF) :
31,5 X 14 cm  for the back of the BOTTOM drawer
32,5 X 14 cm for the back of the TOP drawer
31,5 X 37,8 cm for the base of the BOTTOM drawer
32,5 X 37,8 cm for the base of the TOP drawer
37 X 14 cm (X4) for the sides of the drawers
33,3 X 16,5 (X2) for the drawer fronts

Glue, clamp, staple, nail everything together.  The sides sit ON the bottoms. Attach the drawer fronts last after trying out the carcasses in the U support, with the felts attached – this way you can position the fronts exactly in the cavity, and adjust their positions relative to the carcasses.
You can see from Photo 2 how the felts work – I used about 4mm thick sticky-backed felt that you get either in a sheet you can cut to size, or in circles or squares, that you peel off the backing. On the bottom and sides of the cavities the drawers fit into, you stick felt pieces close to the front.  On the carcass of the drawers themselves, you stick the felt pieces at the back end. You must stick the felts on the drawers at a different level to the felt pieces on the cavity, so that when the drawers slide, the felt pieces do not collide, but slide past each other. They are positioned like this so that both the felts on the cavity and the felts on the carcass are in always contact with a surface, even when the drawers are pulled far out.  I find they work perfectly well for drawers that are not in constant use (like in kitchen when you’d want them to slide back on their own).
Being a lazy sod, I didn’t paint the drawers, but stuck easy-wipe plastic sheeting in the insides. I screwed (with tiny screws) label pulls on the fronts.
See how much these drawers hold than the Ikea drawers – though perhaps it is comparing apples to oranges / onions to shoe cleaning supplies..