Reinforcing IKEA drawers

I like buying furniture from IKEA, but it doesn’t always withstand heavy use. Apparently the drawers I bought (MALM) are not designed to hold as many papers as will fit inside them, and within a couple of years the base of one of the drawers started sagging.

The base of the drawer sagging

The base of the drawer sagging

Soon the base was hanging so low that it prevented the drawer from opening, and things would fall through the gap into the next drawer down.

After several trips to the hardware store and many months of procrastination, I finally have functional drawers again! I’m recording my fix here mostly so I remember all the details.

The basic idea was to attach a plank of wood underneath the drawer, running front-to-back down the centre of the drawer, that would support the 3mm thick base.

I found these at the local hardware store

I found these at the local hardware store

Tools required: Coping saw, pencil, ruler, drill, screwdriver

Materials required: planks of wood, corner braces, screws

If the base of any drawer has fraying edges or is sufficiently warped that it cannot be popped back into its groove, you will also need a rectangle of 3mm (1/8 inch) thick board to replace the base.

Step 1: Decide on thickness of planks. Thicker planks will support heavier loads, but the plank needs to be thin enough to fit under the drawer base without obstructing the movement of the drawer.

Comparing the length of the screw to the thickness of the drawer front

Comparing the length of the screw to the thickness of the drawer front

Step 2: Decide on the lengths of screws you need. For each drawer, you will need one screw that goes through the brace and into the back of the drawer, one to go through the brace and into the front of the drawer, and two to go through the brace and the base and into the plank.

In all cases you want the screw to be long enough to get most of the way through the drawer front/back or plank, but short enough that the sharp tip won’t stick out the other end.

Step 3: Gather materials and tools.

IMG_1861

A little too long.

 

Step 4: Measure the length you need your plank of wood to be: it should fit snugly between the front and back of the drawer. Do this by holding the plank itself against the drawer front and marking the location of the drawer back on the plank.

 

 

Step 5: Cut your plank to size.

 

Measure twice...

Measure twice…

...cut once...

…cut once…

...then check the fit!

…then check the fit!

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1883

Marking the position of the front brace

 

Step 6: Position one corner brace against the inside front of the drawer. It should be horizontally centred with corner where the drawer base should be.Use a pencil to mark the hole in the brace on the inside centre front of the drawer.

 

 

 

IMG_1889

This is a push drill

 

 

Step 7: Drill a pilot hole, then screw the brace into place.

 

 

 

 

Step 8: Use your plank to determine the appropriate placement of the other corner brace.

Using the plank to line up the two braces

Using the plank to line up the two braces

Hold the brace flush against the back of the drawer. Notice the base is sagging away from it

Hold the brace flush against the back of the drawer. Notice the base is sagging away from it

Drill a pilot hole and screw into place.

Look how much this wood has warped!

Look how much this wood has warped!

Step 9: Hold the base of the drawer flush against the braces (this may require some force as you will be fighting the sag) and mark the positions of the holes in the braces on the base.

IMG_1923

Drill holes here

Step 10: Drill holes through the drawer base in the marked positions. You will want some scrap wood to support the base as you drill through it.

Step 11: Hold the plank of wood in place (again fighting the warp of the drawer base) and mark the positions of the holes on the plank.

Step 12: Drill pilot holes in the plank of wood, then screw into place.

IMG_1906

View from underneath the drawer

The finished drawer

The finished drawer

 

 

 

Congratulations, you have working drawers again! I reinforced all six of mine in this way and they’ve held up for the several months between finishing the job and blogging about it.

It works!

It works!

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One Response to Reinforcing IKEA drawers

  1. This is exactly the post I’ve been looking for.

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