Nobody likes the sound of banging cabinet doors and drawers. And while you can’t do anything about the nuisance caused by these during the rush hour at lunchtime in your local diner, there is a way you can rule this out at home.
You may have heard the terms “self-closing” and “soft-closing” before, but they are not the same. Self-closing systems operate on a spring-like mechanism that pulls in doors and drawers as soon as they are opened, which isn’t always silent. Soft-closing systems, on the other hand, stop the drawer or door when pushed to a certain point, and then activate hydraulics to pull them in the rest of the way, thus shutting them without sound.
According to Cabinetry Factory, self-close drawers have been in the industry for many years, but soft-close pieces are only just beginning to get popular. It seems Europe is the hotbed for testing out these new technologies before the rest of the world picks them up.
Drawers in the 50’s and 60’s contained noisy metal slides on their sides, known as Grant slides. And then inexpensive epoxy-coated slides with ball bearings were created in the 80’s. These revolutionized the mechanism of drawers and quickly became the mainstay of the furniture industry.
When the drawer is a side-mount type, 1/2 inch clearance is required on either side. This is to accommodate the ball-bearings and stamped-steel of the slide. Nowadays, springs for self-closing and pistons for soft-closing are also being incorporated in the design.
In the olden days, soft-closing pistons contained oil, but those had many disadvantages. Currently, these pistons are air-driven, which has drastically reduced the resistance offered by the drawers when you try to pull them out. But one needs to always keep in mind that drawer slides function in a slightly different manner when the drawers are filled.
In case the cabinet design is of the soft-close under-mount type, then the drawer is constructed slightly wider and with a recess underneath to accommodate the slide and piston mechanism. For this a 1/8 inch clearance is given under the drawer. But if your drawer was originally constructed for side-mount slides, then you shouldn’t attempt to retrofit slides underneath it.
Drawers that are side-mount type have four pieces while the under-mount type has five. This is because the front of the drawer is separately fitted to the box once the slide is in place.
Nowadays, kitchen cabinet manufacturers have started incorporating the soft-close feature with the side-mount slide. But if you are a DIYer, then it is better to go for epoxy-coated slides as they are easier to put together without expertise.
Door and Hinges
Cabinet doors can have many different kinds of hinges – knife, exposed barrel, and European cup.
Knife hinges are called that because a small part of the hinge sticks out like a knife. A spring mechanism can make this a self-closing system. Exposed barrel hinges, on the other hand, have their entire spine visible externally, and need a magnetic catch to allow the door to swing freely. European cup hinges are built inside the door with an internal spring for self-closing.
If the cabinet contains a soft-closing feature, then it also contains an additional piston in the hinge mechanism. A blocking element is then needed to determine the position of the piston and the softening effect on the swing. Since cup hinges are built inside the side of the door, the soft-closing system may either be built-in or snap-on.
Soft-close slides, hinges and doors are perfect for homes that don’t want neighbors to complain of banging door and drawers, and prefer peace and quiet.
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