An image showing the dimensions of a dovetail drawer box.

How to Measure for Replacement Drawer Boxes

Kitchen drawers endure a lot of wear and tear. Over the years they get yanked open and slammed shut thousands of times, and heavy contents shift with every movement causing the sides and bottom to loosen and eventually fail. If your kitchen came equipped with drawer boxes constructed using dovetail joinery, then they are probably still in great shape. But, if your kitchen has the typical builder grade drawer boxes held together with staples, they likely need replacement. 

An ideal time to replace old, worn out or broken drawer boxes is during a cabinet refacing project. Replacing your cabinet doors is an ideal way to beautify your kitchen and add value, replacing drawer boxes will increase the utility of your kitchen in just a few easy steps. You can even convert a doored cabinet to a pot and pan stack for added functionality. 

An image highlighting the dovetail joinery on a drawer box.

How to Measure for Custom Dovetail Drawers:

1. Remove Drawer Box to Measure 

Carefully remove your existing drawer boxes from the cabinet frame in order to accurately measure. Empty the contents of your drawers before removing as the drawers can be quite heavy when loaded. 

2. Measure the Inside Cabinet Width (ICW) 

Two factors will determine the width of your new drawer box: the Inside Cabinet Width of the cabinet that will house the drawers, and the type of drawer slide being used. The type of drawer slide being used will determine how much width is deducted from the drawer box in order accommodate the slide. For high quality soft close undermount slides like Blum (the preferred choice for most homeowners), the deduction is only 3/8”. A side mounted slide, which can be more economical, requires a deduction in width of 1”, making for a smaller drawer box. 

The ICW is determined by simply measuring the cabinet opening. On a framed kitchen this will be the inside measurement of the face frame from left to right. 

A framed cabinet shows the drawer opening.

On a frameless kitchen, the ICW is the inside width of the cabinet box itself. 

A hand holds a measuring tape in front of an opening in a kitchen cabinet. Measuring the space for a new drawer front for refacing the kitchen.
Measuring for a drawer box in a frameless cabinet.

3. Measure the Height of Your Drawer Box

Next comes measuring the height of your drawer box. Measure the height of the outside of the drawer box you are replacing. Most drawer manufacturers have standard heights ranging from 2.25” to 10.25” which cover the most common drawer box heights used in cabinetry over the last several decades. 

Altering the height of your drawer box is doable, for instance if you want to replace 2 shallow drawer boxes with a single deeper drawer box for pots and pans. Just remember to adjust the height of your drawer face to accommodate the drawer box. In general, the height of the drawer face should be 1.75” to 2” higher than the drawer box in order to accommodate the undermount slides and overlay. 

4. Measure the Depth

Measure the depth of the cabinet from the back of the cabinet box to the front. Most base cabinets are 24” deep. When measuring, check for obstructions in the back of the cabinets. In some cases, builders may run electrical or plumbing through the back of cabinets and you may need to deduct from the depth to clear the obstructions. The standard drawer depth for a 24” base cabinet is approximately 21”. A quality drawer glide like the Blum Tandem Undermount slide will allow for full extension of the drawer box for easier access. In general, the drawer box depth you select will be 2-3 inches less than the depth of the cabinet. 

5. Ordering New Drawer Boxes  

With the measurements you took using the steps above you are now ready to order your custom dovetail drawer boxes using our online order form. 

Select “Width Type” as Inside Cabinet Width and then enter your ICW width in the next box.  Select the Height of the drawer box required using the drop-down menu. Finally, select Depth using the drop-down menu. Selecting the Blum Undermount Slide will ensure your drawer boxes arrive ready to install. We will even mount the Blum locking device to the underside of the drawer box for you. 

Note – if you are replacing drawer boxes but intend to supply your own slides please select Exact Drawer Dimension under width type and input your drawer box width. Your measurements should be the exact size of the drawer box required (closest to our standard Height and Depth) .

Dovetail Drawer Box Features:

Custom dovetail drawers from Nieu include: 

  • 5/8” thick solid birch construction 
  • Dovetail joinery built for a lifetime of durability 
  • Low VOC, clear UV finish for extra water resistance 
  • 3/8” matched melamine bottom for added load capacity 
  • Shipped assemble for easy installation 
  • Blum locking devices installed for you when Blum slides added to your drawer order 

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