beautiful oak drawer fronts custom made for an ikea kitchen cabinet base
Crafts and DIY Tutorials

The Best Tutorial to Build Your Own Ikea Drawer Fronts

Have you ever installed an Ikea kitchen cabinet drawer front from the Sektion line? You may have noticed that Ikea drills various holes in the backsides for mounting. This makes the drawer fronts very diy friendly. It also makes them adaptable to their multiple drawer sizes and configurations. However, if you want to make your own drawer fronts you need to understand the significance of the holes in relationship to your cabinet drawer configurations. I’m going to teach you those measurements, but also how to streamline your process drilling them so you don’t make mistakes and you get through all your drawers quicker.

If you have done a few Ikea kitchens and are ready to just jump right into the tutorial, click here. If not, read on.

source: Ikea

Where do I start?

Ikea has a great kitchen planner that I actually use to plan Ikea kitchens in. Once I have a basic layout in mind, I put it into their free, online software and it creates a “pick list” for me to give to an Ikea team member. Then they work with me to either deliver all the pieces to my project site or pick up that day. The beauty of the software is you can remove the standard drawer fronts and not purchase the pieces you won’t be using. It will also help you plan out which drawers you will be buying and where they will go. Then you have a blueprint of each cabinet placement and their interiors.

Ikea has three basic drawer front heights: 5″, 10″ and 15″. They also allow a few of the drawer fronts to be attached to a specialty drawer like the trash drawer or under sink drawers. But for the main purpose of this tutorial you only need to keep in mind the 5″, 10″, 15″. I’ll be covering the special drawer/doors next week. That’s easy enough right? Three heights to work with. Boom.

Ikea also has a set standard of widths too: 12″, 15″, 18″, 21″, 24″, 30″, & 36″. Now don’t let that scare you. I will break down the measurements you need to get your holes bored exactly where they need to go.

What are the Cons with Using Ikea Standard Fronts?

The problem with Ikea’s standard fronts is: lack of selection. Lack of color choices. I mentioned last week that they don’t have a true Shaker door. They also don’t have very pretty stained wood options. Even worse, if you’d like to mix up a Shaker and Slab style kitchen with similar wood or color you’re out of luck. Or if you want to mix stained wood and painted fronts but have the same Shaker style you are again out of luck…and don’t even get me started if you want stained, painted and slab fronts mixed with shaker fronts. It would be impossible to use standard Ikea fronts for this.

The other issue is even though Ikea offers seven widths, they only make drawer fronts for five of them, but they make drawers types for all seven widths. So, if you want a cabinet base with stacked 12″ drawers, they don’t offer a drawer front. They only offer a door front that conceals shelves and drawers behind it. The 15″ width would be the smallest drawer front you could purchase. That may work for most people, but personally, I don’t always have room in a kitchen for a 15″ drawer and I often need a 12″ drawer base in a kitchen made up of primarily drawer fronted bases and not door fronted bases.

High Medium and Low

Even though three heights and seven widths doesn’t seem like a lot of variation, it really does allow you enough options so that your kitchen looks custom. Most home builders plan for kitchen cabinets built in 3″ increments. Ikea’s cabinet widths are all divisible by three so you should be able to create enough combinations that don’t look boring or leave extra space for awkward transition pieces. My only gripe is they don’t offer 6″ wide drawers for those fancy spice cabinet pull outs on either side of a range…but don’t worry, if you want to make one of those, I am going to share how in a couple weeks. 🙂

The Ikea drawer front heights correlate with their drawers “high”, “medium”, and “low”. You can find them on their site called “Maximera”. You can install 5″, 10″ tall drawer fronts on the low; 10″ and 15″ tall on the medium; 10″, 15″, 18″, 24″, and 30″…wait? what? Where did the 18,” 24″ and 30″ come from? Those are the special cabinets I’ll talk about next week.

Why was all that important?

I don’t know if it all was but it really helped me lead into why there are special measurements to these drawers that once you know them – or at least can reference them here, you will be able to build any size drawer front you want for Ikea cabinets. Then you can make even more combinations to your bases. Let’s say you wanted two 12″ and one 6″ tall drawer configuration throughout your kitchen, now you can. The closest you can get to that with Ikea’s standard fronts is two 10″ and two 5″ or one 15″, one 10″ and one 5″. Or maybe you are happy with the standard 5″, 10″, and 15″ heights but you need a couple 12″ wide drawer fronts or 21″ wide drawer fronts for the specialty pull out cabinet in that width. When you build your own drawers you can make whatever you want.

What you will need:

  1. Tools/Supplies:
    1. Drawer fronts made following last weeks tutorial.
    2. Tape measure
    3. 3/16″ drill bit
    4. Drill or drill press (man if you have a drill press you are killing it in the tool department)
    5. 1- 1/4″ plywood scrap x 10″ tall by 4″ wide (It can be 3″+ wide 4″ was what I used) – make sure it is perfectly square
    6. Something to mark with – pen or pencil
    7. Ruler or T-square or speed square or some sort of straight edge (I’ve used a piece of paper in a jam)

Steps:

1. If you have Instagram, my Ikea drawer front highlight is a great supplement to this tutorial. Go watch it, then come back.

It’s not easy to see but look closely enough and you can see my mark at 1 5/16″

2. Measure and mark 1 5/16″ from left side of board at the top and bottom

I had to draw as far as I could with my speed square then reorient it to the bottom to draw the rest

3. All of the holes are drilled at 1 5/16″ in from the edge. Grab your 1/4 scrap, orient it so that the 4″ is the width and the 10″ is the height. Measure: 1 5/16″ in from the edge. Draw a line from the top of the scrap to the bottom. If you have a speed square use it to draw your line, otherwise just make sure your line is 1 5/16″ in from the edge all the way down.

Label your plywood

4. Label your plywood, “LSBD” this stands for “Left side of back of drawer”, then mark the “top”, “bottom”, “left”, and “right”.

Take your time, precision is important

5. Measure from the bottom up, making dots dead nuts center on these measurements:
1 3/4″
2 3/4″
4 3/4″
5 1/2″
7 5/16″
8 3/16″

Take your time, make sure you are centered on the mark

6. Using your drill and drill bit, center the bit on those marks and drill completely through the plywood. Flip it over and make sure it’s nice and clean around the edges of the drilled holes.

Clean up the hole edges and mark the backside

7. With the board turned over, label the back side “RSBD” this stands for “Right side of back of drawer”, then mark your “top”, “bottom”, “left”, and “right”.

All the drawers, no matter height or width have the same spacing from the edge and bottom for their mounting holes

What did I just make?

Congratulations, you’ve now made yourself a template for all of your drawer fronts. Now that you created a template, you can clamp it to the back of your drawer fronts, on the correct side of the drawer back and drill the holes that correlate with the size Maximera drawer height you are using. Clamp the template perfectly square (easily accomplish this by lining the edges up). Make sure to mark your drill bit with some tape or a white chalk pen at 1/2″ so you don’t drill through the drawer front. To be more efficient, make two templates and clamp them both to the drawer fronts back at the same time to drill all of your holes faster.

Want to get even crazier? Make your template out of something more durable like plexiglass, plastic, or metal.

The most important graphic from the IG Highlight

The Maximera drawers use two holes (except on the specialty drawers), to attach the drawer fronts. The drawers come with the screws to mount the drawers to the fronts, so don’t worry about purchasing these. The low drawer mounts to the two low holes. The medium the base attaches to the lower holes and the upper rail attaches to the middle holes. The high drawers the base attaches to the lower holes and the top rail the top holes. So for all your low drawers and low fronts you only need the lower holes. For all the other drawer pay attention to which one you are using and drill the upper holes according to your needs.

I hope you find this series helpful. If you have any questions or need clarification or just want to say hi, comment below! I love hearing what you think.

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