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  • Inexpensive Heavy Duty Slides

    I have one of those steel shelf units that is about two feet deep. It was a gift, not part of my original shop plan. The frame is great, solid as a rock. But the shelves are cheap, particle board or some such material, so they are sagging under the weight of the heavy items I have tried to store there: gallon jugs, belt sander, etc. So I need to replace them before they give way and I have a real mess. My first idea was to install some plywood shelves on heavy duty slides so it would be easy to get to the items there. Perhaps two half width shelves per level. But then I looked up the prices of good slides. Wow! I could spend $500 to $1000 or more on a $40 shelf unit. I don't think so.

    So, I either need a better, CHEAPER idea for slides or just go with plain, non sliding plywood shelves. Any suggestions for less expensive slides or an alternative method for updating this unit would be appreciated. I don't have a budget, just a need and a desire for better storage. And a case of sticker shock.
    Paul A.
    SE Texas

    Make it fit.
    You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

  • #2
    Lee Valley have good quality, fair priced units. And, I believe the load ratings they publish.

    Geoff

    Comment


    • #3
      Here's an idea- you can make a pair of shelves as a tandem unit. Start with an upside down U shape, made of flat bar probably- each leg has a wheel on it. The width is the same as the bottom shelf, and it becomes the 'drawer front' for the shelf. The top of this front is at the height of the second shelf, and can be locked to it. When you want to open the bottom, you turn a grip and pull. This releases the second shelf and allows the bottom shelf to come out alone. When you want the second shelf you don't turn the grip, you just pull it. Both shelves pull out together.

      The back of each shelf gets a ball bearing on each side, and all you need now is a rail for it to roll on. That can be a piece of flat bar laying in the bottom of the cabinet on each side- if the cabinet has a bottom- for the bottom shelf. Next shelf up would have a pair of angle iron rails. The bearings can be skate bearings, which are cheap. The two wheels at the front could be skateboard wheels, or possibly roller blade wheels.

      One drawback- you always have to open the bottom shelf when you want the second shelf open. But they are on smooth bearings so it would be an easy pull, although you would be dealing with inertia once the shelves are loaded with weight.

      You're going to get about 90% extension out of this, and there is no torquing on the rails, even at near-full extension. They just bear the weight and everything rides smoothly on 'real' ball bearings. This is basically a two-shelved wheeled cart which uses a fixed cabinet to carry one end of it.

      Something I've done in the past is to edge plywood with aluminum channel. This protects the edge and gives it an easy slide in a uhmw channel. It also gives strength to the plywood when a lag bolt is driven in from the side- as you might do to create an axle for a skate bearing. You would turn down the head to where the bearing is a fit over it, then saw a slot for a screwdriver blade so it can be installed.

      Haven't done the math- perhaps by the time you have all this together it would have been cheaper to buy the heavy duty slides-
      I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

      Comment


      • #4
        Rockler has an extensive selection of slides. I have used slides from Grizzly for heavy kitchen drawers. They worked just fine.

        Comment


        • #5
          If you've more time than money, and you don't need full extension, it would not be hard to copy the basic function of the standard cheap/light units with some channel and ball bearings. Basically replace the stamped steel and nylon wheels with heavy duty substitutes. The last little angle-bit they put on to keep the drawers closed might be an issue but a simple latch could solve that.

          For really heavy stuff, I've done a simple version of what Darryl suggest... basically a rolling cabinet instead of a drawer. It works better than you'd expect, even with a somewhat unkempt floor. Mine is narrow and deep, with a solid front and access from one side for the lower level when pulled out. I like it. I did pay for good wheels though, and that will sticker-shock you like decent full-extension drawer slides will.

          As they say... time or money.

          David...
          http://fixerdave.blogspot.com/

          Comment


          • #6
            full extension drawer slides are like 3$ a piece including shipping and are good for 75 pounds. that's 6$ per drawer.
            https://www.amazon.com/Inches-Extens..._df_B01A92D2ZS

            i've bought those slides before, in 2016, have had no problems with them.
            Last edited by johansen; 04-08-2019, 03:18 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Fasten that shelf unit to something solid before you open the first drawer with heavy items in it or you will be wearing the shelf unit and all its contents.

              Comment


              • #8
                About $10.00 a set at surplus center. https://www.surpluscenter.com/shop.a...ywords=Slides+
                When I get Time... I'll...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Folks, it sounds to me like Paul is looking for some heavy duty slides to move an entire shelf full of shop tools... NOT a "furniture" drawer. A lot of the suggestions for cheap slides have ~100 lb. weight rating. Great for a drawer full of socks or kitchen utensils. But to support an entire shelf of "gallon jugs, belt sanders" and so on?

                  About $100 per pair of slides for a 24" extension 500 lb. capacity is pretty typical. If this is a 5 shelf unit, then yup... $500 easy.

                  Frankly, it's probably not worth the time, but you could think about building your own as others have suggested. Some cheap ball bearings from China would work as the rollers and some steel channel could be the tracks.

                  You could also think about making something out of Unistrut is typically pretty cheap at your local big-box home improvement store. You can buy Unistrut trolleys pretty cheap: https://www.zoro.com/zoro-select-han...QaAo2iEALw_wcB

                  I'm not exactly sure how to get standard pieces of Unistrut and trolleys to nest properly but maybe the suggestion can spark a better idea.

                  (Edit: personally, I would go with fixed shelves... practically, I'm not sure how much a sliding shelf really buys you in terms of convenience. You might be better of making or buying a set of smaller drawers that can live on a fixed shelf if you have small things that might get "lost" at the back of a shelf)
                  Last edited by Fasttrack; 04-08-2019, 08:00 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I used these slides for my work bench drawers. Haven't had them long enough to speak to longevity, but they happily hold up draws that have some heavy stuff in the. Couple of hundred pounds of steel in one drawer, four 5 gallon buckets (each with 3-4 gallons in them) in another, tool boxes/ grinding wheels/etc in another. All slide freely without binding.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I am still trying to wrap my head around this one. You wouldn't have a photo or two, by any chance?



                      Originally posted by darryl View Post
                      Here's an idea- you can make a pair of shelves as a tandem unit. Start with an upside down U shape, made of flat bar probably- each leg has a wheel on it. The width is the same as the bottom shelf, and it becomes the 'drawer front' for the shelf. The top of this front is at the height of the second shelf, and can be locked to it. When you want to open the bottom, you turn a grip and pull. This releases the second shelf and allows the bottom shelf to come out alone. When you want the second shelf you don't turn the grip, you just pull it. Both shelves pull out together.

                      The back of each shelf gets a ball bearing on each side, and all you need now is a rail for it to roll on. That can be a piece of flat bar laying in the bottom of the cabinet on each side- if the cabinet has a bottom- for the bottom shelf. Next shelf up would have a pair of angle iron rails. The bearings can be skate bearings, which are cheap. The two wheels at the front could be skateboard wheels, or possibly roller blade wheels.

                      One drawback- you always have to open the bottom shelf when you want the second shelf open. But they are on smooth bearings so it would be an easy pull, although you would be dealing with inertia once the shelves are loaded with weight.

                      You're going to get about 90% extension out of this, and there is no torquing on the rails, even at near-full extension. They just bear the weight and everything rides smoothly on 'real' ball bearings. This is basically a two-shelved wheeled cart which uses a fixed cabinet to carry one end of it.

                      Something I've done in the past is to edge plywood with aluminum channel. This protects the edge and gives it an easy slide in a uhmw channel. It also gives strength to the plywood when a lag bolt is driven in from the side- as you might do to create an axle for a skate bearing. You would turn down the head to where the bearing is a fit over it, then saw a slot for a screwdriver blade so it can be installed.

                      Haven't done the math- perhaps by the time you have all this together it would have been cheaper to buy the heavy duty slides-
                      Paul A.
                      SE Texas

                      Make it fit.
                      You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have seen some slides in that price range, but most of them didn't even have a load rating included in the specs and they did not look very heavy duty. One of the things that is presently on that shelf unit is my 10" RT with it's tailstock. I haven't weighed it, but I am fairly sure it is more than 75 pounds.



                        Originally posted by johansen View Post
                        full extension drawer slides are like 3$ a piece including shipping and are good for 75 pounds. that's 6$ per drawer.
                        https://www.amazon.com/Inches-Extens..._df_B01A92D2ZS

                        i've bought those slides before, in 2016, have had no problems with them.
                        Paul A.
                        SE Texas

                        Make it fit.
                        You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yes, I do plan to tie the top to the wall. I have seen heavy file cabinets start to topple over with two or more drawers open. The good ones interlock the drawers and I may have to do something like that here.



                          Originally posted by RMinMN View Post
                          Fasten that shelf unit to something solid before you open the first drawer with heavy items in it or you will be wearing the shelf unit and all its contents.
                          Paul A.
                          SE Texas

                          Make it fit.
                          You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Yes, you have it. This is my heavy storage area.

                            The shelf unit is about four feet wide and I am considering using two, two foot shelves on each level. But, of course, that doubles the number of slides and the price.

                            I may have to think about this for some time. But time is limited by the bow in the existing shelves.

                            Oh, and I am not dedicated to "full extension". Things are a lot easier if you stick to 75% or 80% extension. I think even 50% extension would be worthwhile.



                            Originally posted by Fasttrack View Post
                            Folks, it sounds to me like Paul is looking for some heavy duty slides to move an entire shelf full of shop tools... NOT a "furniture" drawer. A lot of the suggestions for cheap slides have ~100 lb. weight rating. Great for a drawer full of socks or kitchen utensils. But to support an entire shelf of "gallon jugs, belt sanders" and so on?

                            About $100 per pair of slides for a 24" extension 500 lb. capacity is pretty typical. If this is a 5 shelf unit, then yup... $500 easy.

                            Frankly, it's probably not worth the time, but you could think about building your own as others have suggested. Some cheap ball bearings from China would work as the rollers and some steel channel could be the tracks.

                            You could also think about making something out of Unistrut is typically pretty cheap at your local big-box home improvement store. You can buy Unistrut trolleys pretty cheap: https://www.zoro.com/zoro-select-han...QaAo2iEALw_wcB

                            I'm not exactly sure how to get standard pieces of Unistrut and trolleys to nest properly but maybe the suggestion can spark a better idea.

                            (Edit: personally, I would go with fixed shelves... practically, I'm not sure how much a sliding shelf really buys you in terms of convenience. You might be better of making or buying a set of smaller drawers that can live on a fixed shelf if you have small things that might get "lost" at the back of a shelf)
                            Paul A.
                            SE Texas

                            Make it fit.
                            You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Another idea that I had was to get the less expensive, drawer slides, perhaps with a 100 pound rating and using two pairs of them on each sliding shelf. I have seen this done on heavy rack mounted electronic hardware. It doubles the load rating and the stacked arrangement will help prevent any sagging.
                              Paul A.
                              SE Texas

                              Make it fit.
                              You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

                              Comment

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