How To Adjust Kitchen Drawer Fronts

Kitchen drawers tend to see a lot of wear and tear, especially if you cook often. Whether you’re installing new drawers or repairing old ones, you might be wondering how to adjust the fronts. Drawer fronts are also known as the drawer faces, so they provide the style. But the drawer fronts can also make it really obvious when something is misaligned. We have thoroughly researched how you can adjust the kitchen drawer fronts.

There are several ways to properly adjust your kitchen drawer fronts. Because many drawers have unique built-in adjustment mechanisms, you will have to consider your adjustment approach based on the most common adjustment types:

  • Tabs and Levers
  • Hidden Slot
  • Adjustable Rails
  • No Built-In Adjustment System

Kitchen drawers are absolutely necessary for any home, but they aren’t always durable enough to survive a busy kitchen. And you don’t want to mess up the clean, hard lines in your kitchen with crooked drawer fronts when you first install them. Keep reading to learn how to replace, reattach or adjust your drawer fronts, including details like the ideal screws for you.

A kitchen with oak cabinetry brown tiled backsplash and a white rangehood, How To Adjust Kitchen Drawer Fronts

How To Adjust Kitchen Drawer Fronts

Tabs and Levers

Many modern kitchen drawers are designed with easy adjustment tabs. These simple devices typically have a small metallic latch on either side of the drawer. It can be found right next to some colored release tabs underneath the drawer box. The box is just jargon for the actual drawer itself since the front is only added on for the handle and visuals.

Once you find the metal adjustment tab, you can usually slide it in one direction or another. This should adjust the drawer front in a vertical direction. However, keep in mind that most of the time, you won’t be able to adjust your drawer front very much. Some popular models still only let you move the drawer face around an eighth of an inch.

A wooden white front kitchen cabinetry drawer

If you want to adjust the tilt of your drawer front, there is a special lever for that near the back of the drawer. These tilt levers usually sit at the far end of the runners. They can be moved back and forth to adjust how far your drawer front will tilt inward and outward. Again, you won’t have much wiggle room here, but it’s better than reinstalling the entire drawer.

Hidden Slot

These slots are usually hidden away from view. You will need to remove the covering, which reveals a metallic system underneath. The cap cover typically just clips right on, so it shouldn’t be difficult to remove or put back on.

With the adjustment mechanism exposed, you can choose to tighten or loosen one of the different screws. Each screw will adjust either the horizontal or the vertical level of the drawer front. Typically, the smaller of the screws will adjust the drawer face up and down, while the larger screw moves it side to side.

You can refer to this YouTube video to see how the slot mechanism can be found and adjusted:

Adjustable Rails

Bear in mind that these adjustment systems tend to include a very different mechanism to change the tilt of the drawer front. Sometimes, the kitchen drawers might be constructed with unique rails. These rails can be used to adjust the tilt of the drawer, altering the angle it leans forward or backward.

The rails need to be pulled free from the drawer front and then twisted around. The amount of spinning that you use will adjust the tilt of the drawer face.

No Built-In Adjustment System

Unfortunately, some kitchen drawers just don’t have their own adjustment mechanism. This typically means that the drawers are a little bit older and don’t have modern technology. Otherwise, the drawers might be a little more inexpensive, exchanging the convenience of an adjustment system for a better price tag.

Most of the time, the kitchen drawer will simply have a vintage design. In this case, you will need to remove the drawer face altogether and then reinstall it. However, this can be a little troublesome.

Always make sure that you identify the true reason your drawer is misaligned. It’s possible that you just didn’t slide the drawer into the glides quite right. You can read "How to Make Kitchen Drawers Slide Easier."

How do you adjust the front of an IKEA drawer?

IKEA kitchen drawers commonly have a hidden slot for adjustable screws on either side of the drawer. This unique system adjusts the vertical, horizontal, and tilt degrees of the drawer front. This fully adjustable design is particularly useful because it places all of the mechanisms at the front of the drawer.

How do you reattach the front of a kitchen drawer?

For some adjustments, you’ll need to remove the kitchen drawer front. This requires you to remove the screws that secure the drawer face to the drawer box.

That’s because most of the time, the drill holes on the drawer box are larger than the drill holes on the drawer front. This is what allows you to slightly adjust the drawer face after you’ve put the drawer together.

In other words, reattaching the front of a kitchen drawer can be as simple as using a screwdriver. Just loosen the securing screws in the back, adjust the drawer face as you please, and then tighten the connecting screws again.

Can you replace drawer fronts?

However, it isn’t always as easy as unscrewing and tightening a couple of screws. If the drawer front is loose because of breaking wood, or bad screws, you might have to replace the drawer front altogether. Although it is possible, it might take some money, time, and effort.

For example, you will likely need additional tools. The process will often demand a power drill, tape, some new screws, and shims.

Click here to find this 12-pack of wooden shims on Amazon.

Shims are tapered pieces of wood that you can slide between the drawer front and the drawer box to adjust the horizontal tilt of the face. If you only need to align that angle, then you can potentially avoid replacing the entire drawer front. If not, then you should follow these tips to reinstall a new drawer face.

Additionally, if you can’t reuse the existing drill holes, then you will have to drill your own about an inch from each side of the drawer box. Remember to drill outward from the inside of the drawer box.

Then, you can use tape to secure the drawer face to the box. This will keep it stable while you screw in the new drawer front.

What screws to use for drawer fronts?

Keep in mind that you should always make sure to use the proper screws when you install a new drawer front. Most drawer fronts are around an inch thick, give or take a quarter of an inch. Your drawer faces might have a unique thickness, depending on their make and age.

If you use screws that are too long, you will almost certainly damage the area. Worse, you do not want exposed screws to be poking out from the sides of your drawer.

Click here to find this squeezable Liquid Nails adhesive on Amazon.

Most drawer fronts are wooden, so you may also consider some construction adhesive. For example, Liquid Nails is a powerful glue brand. They sell potent adhesives with different ingredients, which can work on just about any type of surface. This might also be useful for other kitchen cabinets.

You can read "How to Adjust Kitchen Cupboard Doors" for more handy tips to use on kitchen cabinetry.


A kitchen with oak cabinetry brown tiled backsplash and a white rangehood, How To Adjust Kitchen Drawer Fronts

Few things are more frustrating than an uneven kitchen drawer because you’ll probably be using it every single day. Fortunately, there are some straightforward ways to fix any misaligned drawer fronts. They don’t tend to require many tools, but sometimes it can involve a bit of time and effort. Now that you know how to adjust any kitchen drawer face, everything will look nice and tidy the next time you cook.

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