Stopping your drawers from slamming doesn’t always require replacing the slides. With a soft close drawer adapter and a few tips from this article you can upgrade any bottom mount drawer in minutes.
And I’ve done this to a few of my own drawers. With just a few bucks per drawer, basic tools, and the Rok soft close drawer adapter* my epoxy bottom slides closed without slamming.
But best of all I didn’t have to crawl around in the drawer, fight a slide replacement or spend $15-20 per drawer.
However, there are a few tricks to this that I’ll show you in this article. And if you have face frame cabinets on of the tricks will make the difference between 3 minutes a drawer or 10-times that.
Here’s a video of my basement bar cabinets with an upgrade to Rok soft close:
How to Install a Soft Close Drawer Adapter
Step 1: Verify Slide Compatibility
The first step is making sure your drawer slides are compatible with a soft close drawer adapter.
As you can see in the picture above, the white drawer slide is an epoxy drawer slide. And these slides are just about everywhere. Resting on top of this epoxy slide you’ll see a ROK adapter that has been completed installed.
So once you’ve confirmed your drawers look this keep reading. But if your drawers aren’t compatible no need to worry. Check out our guide to the best soft close drawer slides for other retrofit options.
Step 2: Order Soft Close Drawer Adapters
As a custom add-on this adapter isn’t something you’re likely to find locally. However, the good news is adapters like the ROK adapter are readily available online in bulk quantities*. Since most kitchens will have 10-20 drawers this is a great way to do this upgrade on the cheap.
Nothing too fancy for this step: simply count up your drawers and order.
Step 3: Prepare a Spot to Attach the Adapter
This step is optional if you have “frameless” cabinets. Because frameless cabinets have drawer slides attached directly to the cabinet side you’ll have a place to mount the adapter. Skip to the next step if this is your style of kitchen.
However, if you have face frame cabinets you’ll need a place to mount the adapter.
While your first instinct might be to cut a custom width board and attach to the side of the cabinet I have a trick. Rather than fight the table saw simply make a 1/2″ piece of plywood cut to 3″ x 18″ (for a standard kitchen). Then using a few extra 1/2″ screws attach this plywood directly to the epoxy guide slide using the existing screw holes.
Step 4: Attach the Adapter to the Cabinet (or Slide)
If you aren’t familiar with epoxy slides there is one thing you’ll need to know. And that is the right hand slide is typically the “guide slide”.
What’s a guide slide? Well, it’s the slide that has a lip that keeps the epoxy slide wheel in a tight line. And this is what makes epoxy slides easy to install as the other (left) side allows the slide wheel room to roam.
Why am I explaining this? Because you need to attach the soft close drawer adapter to the guide slide side. Or risk a headache later with the mechanism failing (it’s happened to me).
Step 5: Attach the Catch to the Drawer
I said 3 minutes per drawer and this is already step 5. So, let’s finish the installation with a few more screws.
First, make sure the adapters “catch” is all the way forward. Then install the drawer and rest the catch on the soft close adapter and find the back “trigger”. Now lightly hold the catch in place, keeping it level, and draw a very thin pencil line on the top edge.
Lastly, pull the drawer out a bit and screw the catch onto the drawer about 1/16″ of an inch above your reference line. Doing this will ensure your catch doesn’t rub on the adapter (you’ll hear it if it does). Start with two screws in the vertical slots to allow for adjustment. Finally when you’re happy everything is working install the third lock screw as show in the picture above.
That’s it! Just close the drawer and watch it self close.
Tip: Go ahead and give the wheels of the epoxy slides a shot of silicone spray to quieten them and make the drawers run smoother.
Frequently Asked Questions for a Soft Close Drawer Adapter
What is a soft close drawer adapter?
What is a soft close drawer adapter? An adapter for a soft close feature works with the original slide and uses the same mechanism as a traditional soft close drawer slide. When the drawer is almost closed the adapter grabs the drawer and slowly pulls it shut. And this eliminates slamming found with traditional drawers.
What are the drawbacks to a soft close adapter?
After installing these on a few of my cabinets the biggest drawback is it takes a little extra force to initially open the drawer. And, while I’ve built and used drawers with drawer slides like Blum, the soft close mechanism works well in comparison.
But one key: the adapter *has* to be installed on the guide slide of an epoxy slide drawer. Otherwise the catch can fail.
Can I add soft close to existing drawers?
You can add soft close to existing drawers using an adapter specially made for this purpose. By using a standard 1/2″ clearance an adapter will work with the existing slide to catch and close a drawer. While these adapters can work with ball bearing slides, they work best with the epoxy drawer slides used on millions of cabinets and furniture.
What is the best soft close drawer slide?
After twenty years of woodworking my recommendation for the best soft close drawer slide is the Blum BLUMOTION. Due to their heavy duty pistons and mechanism for soft close they open easy and shut extremely smooth. However they only work for new drawers due to special side clearance requirements. But, there are a number of side mounts that will work for existing 1/2″ side clearances. Learn more in our guide to the best soft close drawer slides.
How does soft close drawers work?
Soft close drawers work through use of compression mechanisms and springs that will catch a drawer in its last 1-2″ of travel. By closing the drawer with a reasonable force the slide will catch the moving drawer and slowly pull it shut – thus preventing the slam common with slides.
Is a soft close drawer adapter the same as a soft close drawer damper?
Yes – both are designed to catch cabinet drawers and slow the close during the final 1-2″ of drawer slide travel.
Soft Close Drawer Adapter Summary
It really is possible to install a soft close drawer adapter in just a few minutes. But if you don’t have bottom mount slides, or want to upgrade to other drawer slides check out our recommended reading.
- Soft Close Cabinet Door Adapters
- Best Soft Close Drawer Slides
- 22″ Slides for Kitchen Cabinets
- 7 Tips to Installing Drawers
- The Best Soft Close Cabinet Door Hinges
Drawer Slide Series
Choosing and installing drawer slides takes planning. Follow our series for more guides, tools and techniques to complete your project: