I am not the original owner of my house. It was built in the mid-1970s. A while back, one of the drawers in one of the kitchen cabinets became jammed, in part because a portion of the crapola with which it was overloaded spilled out over the top of the drawer, preventing it from being opened peacefully. In such a dilemma of mechanical logic, eventually the drawer must be opened; and since it couldn't be opened peacefully, it was perforce opened in a warlike manner, resulting in the destruction of a complex of rollers and tracks and hanger brackets known collectively as drawer slides. Once the mangled remains of these slides were extracted from the cabinet structure, I had to admit that their useful life appeared to have been exceeded anyway. They were downright pitiful with wear. Maybe a competent homeowner does some preventative maintenance on such items, on the order of periodic inspection, lubrication, and cleaning. But I wouldn't know what competent homeowners do; I tend to assume that things requiring maintenance will let me know by failing, and that's when I deal with them. In short, I'm a slug.
Anyway, I just want the vast readership of this blog (yes, all three of you) to be aware of a few things. This might save you a few of the repeated trips to Lowe's or the Home Despot or one of the other Homeowner Hells (thanks, Dave Barry) that I made yesterday.
First of all, when you take your "old" slides with you to the homeowner hell for comparison purposes, understand that you may see slides denominated in Satan's units (for example, "24-inch"), as well as some in cgs units (for example, "600 mm"). Don't be stupid, as I was, and think, after holding your old slide alongside one -- in its factory-sealed plastic sleeve, of course -- and seeing that it appears to be the same length as either a 24-inch slide or a 600 mm slide, that these are the same. You might convert in your head, using only two significant figures: let's see, an inch is about 25 mm, so 4 inches would be 100 mm, and six times that, 24 inches, would be 600 mm, so they're the same thing. This would be a grievous error, so don't do it: 600 mm is, more precisely, about 23.62 inches ... and the difference is significant. If your cabinets are sized for a 600 mm slide, a 24-inch slide won't work -- it sticks out beyond the front of the cabinet by, well, let's see, about 9.6 mm, or about 3/8 of an inch. Now, if you're banging together a fence out in your yard, 3/8 inch is no big deal. But a cabinet drawer that's 3/8 inch from being closed: well, that's noticeable, even by me, making it fully unacceptable to management (She Who Must Be Obeyed).
Moving along: if your cabinets have interior sides that are recessed (the opening occupied by the drawer is wider than the opening in the cabinet face), then the fronts of the slides will typically be attached to the sides of the face opening, while the back ends of the slides are supported by offset hanger brackets which attach to the rear panel of the cabinet. One thing must be kept in mind. If you purchase the 600 mm "Liberty" brand slides from Lowe's, they sell these hanger brackets right alongside the slides, and they label the brackets according to the model numbers of the slides with which they're supposed to work. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, let me tell you. The "old" slides were supported by equivalent brackets, made of thin sheet steel. The new brackets that I purchased with the new 600 mm slides are injection-molded plastic, and the rear walls of these brackets are several mm thick, as opposed to the equivalent dimension in the old brackets, which was maybe half a millimeter. No big deal, you say? Think again: with the brackets installed, my new slides again protrude beyond the cabinet face -- only by a couple of mm, mind you, but see above for the non-acceptability of this.
At this point, I should have returned the slides and brackets to Lowe's. But, you know, Lowe's is a ways down the road from me, and gas is four bucks a gallon, and I think I see a way around this: I can just saw a little bit off the end of the "cabinet members" of the slides. I do this, without much difficulty, and return to my installation. Now, I discover that the drawer cannot be completely closed, because the plastic hanger brackets interfere with the "drawer members" of the slides. (This has nothing to do with the shortening of the cabinet member length; this system simply doesn't work together.) And, having hacksawed the cabinet members, I now can't return the slides any more; they're trash. Shucks, and other bitter and heated comments.
So, I visit the Home Despot this time, acquiring another set of 600 mm slides; these are wide enough to fit reasonably well in my "old" hanger brackets (which, Gottseidank, I have saved). And finally, after another round of measuring, leveling, drilling, screwing (no, not the fun kind, either), fitting, testing, adjusting, and so forth, at 10:30 local time last night, I repopulated the drawer, declared victory, and crawled off toward bed. And, truth to tell, it works pretty well. All of this must have a "point" or a lesson somehow, I suppose, but I'm not sure what it is here. Unless it's: hmmmmm, maybe we really needed all-new cabinets anyway ...