beautiful oak drawer fronts custom made for an ikea kitchen cabinet base

Want to know how to build your own Ikea drawer fronts? If you have 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.

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.

ikea guy with question mark attempting to build an ikea komplement drawer
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)


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

Joannie holding measuring tape against 1/4" wood to place mark for Ikea template at 1 5/16"
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

using a speed square makes drawing straight lines quick and easy for this ikea drawer drill guide template
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.

start your 1/4" plywood template with a vertical mark at 1 5/8" in from the edge of the board.
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”.

1/4" plywood marked with pen on spots to drill for attachment holes to ikea drawer fronts
Take your time, precision is important. Pin this image for later.

5. Measure from the bottom up, making dots dead nuts center on these measurements:
1 9/16″
2 5/16″
4 5/8″
5 3/8″
7 5/16″
8 1/16″

makita drill with 3/16" drill bit centered on 1 5/8" line and 1 9/16" for ikea drawer hole attachment template
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”.

back of a gray ikea bodbyn kitchen drawer, with text overlay in white with a black background
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.

back of gray ikea bodbyn drawer front with text overlay of what the holes on the back are for and an image of the three different ikea komplement drawers that insert into those holes.
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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  1. So helpful! This is a little random, but how did you get that finish on the drawers in the picture. Is that a stain? That’s the exact finish I’m looking to do on my vanity in my bathroom!

    1. Okay, I’m going to blow your mind right now if this is the first time you’ve heard of this product. This stain is more of a liquid wax. It’s called Rubio Monocoat and I buy it on Amazon. The color is called Cotton White.
      It dries semi-matte a little bit of sheen. It’s wipeable. Washable. And resists moisture. But the most crazy part: you put it on, buff it off and it seals and protects itself. In one coat. I’m not sponsored by this company (yet haha) but I recommend them all the time. It was primarily made for floors and I just finished my white oak treads with it – but in their color Havana. It’s holding up amazing.
      This cabinet and door/drawers were made with the oak veneer plywood you find at lowes/Home Depot and edge banded with iron on veneer to hide the plywood edges. Sorry for the long winded reply, I’d love to hear if you use it! Also, it may look expensive but the product goes a long way, I only mix a tablespoon at a time because it goes that far. Good luck!

    1. Haha good catch, but no, I put pencil marks in the wrong spot and couldn’t find my picture with the pencil marks in the right spot. The dimensions I posted are the right ones.

      1. Are your top two hole measurements off then, since they align with the pencil marks? I am getting 7 3/16 and 7 15/16 when I measure mine but want to get it right!

  2. we are customizing Ikea cabinets and this is super helpful!!! thank you so much for sharing this valuable info!

  3. This is, literally, like having the keys to the IKEA kingdom! We are definitely sold on the use of the Sektion bases but the price of the faces has kept these frugal DIYers on the fence. But, you have given us new life. We can hardly wait for to order a sample cabinet and see what we can create before we commit to the entire room! Thank you SO much!

      1. We installed an ikea kitchen at a friends house last year and I think the drawer fronts used hardware to click on – do you know if that hardware is part of the drawer kit when you order it and are your measurements to install those parts on custom fronts? Thanks so much!

  4. Thank you for sharing these details..helped a lot and saved a lot of time..I was thinking about figuring out myself buying a front but found your blog.:)

  5. Are these for the same overlay as the IKEA cabinets? I am adding the drawers and custom fronts to existing non IKEA cabinets and trying to figure all of that out. Any thoughts on lining things up?

    1. I like to start on the bottom drawer, get that lined up and then bring the next drawer above it forward, put a couple washers on the drawer front and line the next drawer front up on top of the washers as spacers. I also really like to use the kreg jig drawer jigs

  6. Really useful post. But if I am using 9″ and 12″ tall drawer fronts instead of Ikea standard 10″ and 15″, will the holes in the Ikea cabinets for the drawer glides line up with the holes in the drawer front using the template? I feel I am missing something fundamental. Thanks. (Sorry if duplicate message, I got an error on my first try).

    1. I haven’t made that change but the measurements come from the base of the drawer front up. I do think you can use different size fronts as long as you keep the template in mind. I’d start at the bottom and work my way up the cabinet base-just remember the screws for the bottom drawer front don’t go in the same holes as the two upper drawer fronts-look closely at IKEA’s instructions and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

  7. Thank you for this! Do you also have instructions on how to make the cover panels, toe kicks, filler pieces, etc.?

    1. I share a lot of how I do this in Highlights on Instagram. But haven’t put together a full tutorial here but that’s a great idea and I’m happy to do one. If you have any specific questions about what I used on ours I can help you recreate them.

  8. This really helped me , thanks for posting it and being careful to explain..
    I did have an issue with the bottom drawer for some reason. Had to redo adding 3/4 “. Not sure what I missed but it was an easy adjustment and redrill. Went from top 5″ , then 10″ to bottom 15”.
    Thanks again.

    1. A lot of people have issues with the ikea bottom drawer installation. The bottom drawers don’t install in the two holes like the top two drawers. If you look closely at their instruction manual you will see the slight installation change. The screws install in the two lower holes of the clips for the bottom drawers and all the other drawers the screw for the clips are installed in the two upper holes.

I promise to reply if you do!