Overlay drawers and doors have the distinct advantage of having a reasonable amount of fudge factor. Inset doors (like those used on most quality furniture) have nearly zero margin of error. Here is how I managed to install the drawer fronts without too much fuss …
The challenge I faced was that I needed the drawer installed in the cabinet and I had to align the drawer front to have a uniform 1/16" gap on all edges. But, then I needed to remove the drawer with the aligned front in order to make the attachment permanent. If you watched The New Yankee Workshop, they tack nailed the front in place. My cabinets are finished with urethane so a nail would show.
- I created a drill guide jig and I created a series of shims 1/16", 3/32", and 1/8". For the most part, I only use the first size. I also bought a roll of double sided tape. The tape was intended to keep rugs from sliding on the floor. It is soft and somewhat stretchy; not like cellophane tape.
- I use the jig to drill holes in the four corners of the drawer.
- I then apply a strip of the double sided tape down both sides of the front of the actual drawer.
- I take a 4" length of duct tape and fold it over onto itself, leaving 1/2" of sticky surface.
- I apply the duct tape to the underside of the drawer – this will act as a pull tab since the drawer pulls are not yet installed.
- I reinstall the drawer into the cabinet.
- Using the shims at the bottom, I rest the drawer front in place and lean it back enough to see if my top and bottom gaps are uniform (making sure not to touch the double sided tape). If the top and bottom gaps are not the same, I swap out the shims as needed.
- I shift the drawer front side to side to get a uniform gap.
- I press the front against the drawer to get contact with the double sided tape.
- Using the duct tape pull tab, I remove the drawer.
- I finish drilling the holes into the finished drawer front to avoid any chance of splitting when the attachment screws are installed. Take caution to insure your drill depth does not go all the way through.
- The finish front is installed with four screws. (I wish I could have found light colored ones as black just looks out of place.)
Once the whole process is finished, the tape does not show. The only adjustment needed is any depth adjustment to insure the drawer front is in the same plane as the face frame of the cabinet.