Slideology 101: Why Do So Many Drawer Slides Use a Half-Inch Cross-Section?

Slideology 101: Why Do So Many Drawer Slides Use a Half-Inch Cross-Section?

Be it in a bedroom dresser or a kitchen island, there’s a reasonable chance the drawer slides occupy a half-inch cross-section. The Accuride 3832, the much-replicated standard in light-duty slides, occupies half an inch of side-space. So do many of its competitors.

But why? What is it about this specification that has become standard in light-duty slides?

Cabinet with drawer slides.
Many (if not most) light-duty drawer slides have used the half-inch side-space for decades. It’s become the de facto standard for ball bearing slides in cabinetry.

The half-inch spec's popularity owes to the full-travel design expected in slides. A full-travel slide extends 100% of its closed length. For example, a full-travel slide that measures 6 inches long extends up to 6 inches. This is a convenient feature because it allows a user to have greater access to the inside of his or her drawer. 

Since its introduction, many users have come to expect full-travel drawers. Intrinsic to full-travel is the three-member slide, which uses an inner, intermediate, and outer member. If not for the intermediate member, a slide would achieve only partial travel. 

Accuride 3832 drawer slide dimensions.
The Accuride 3800 Series, the most popular (and replicated) light-duty slide, uses a half-inch cross-section.

The popularity of the Accuride 3800 Series, introduced in the 1980s, helped cement the half-inch standard in light-duty applications.

Engineers found half an inch to be the “Goldilocks” spec for the light-duty, full-travel slide’s cross-section. In other words, not too thin to limit travel and not too thick to exceed the needs of most light-duty applications. The half-inch cross-section has the added benefits of overall lightness and affordability because less steel’s used. 

Accuride 3932 drawer slide.
The Accuride 3932 is a new slide that uses a half-inch cross-section. It has one big caveat, however: One pair can handle loads up to 150 lbs., a very high spec given the traditional limits of the half-inch cross-section.

The cross-section is not without its disadvantages. The half-inch spec places inherent limits on its maximum load capacity, though recent innovations have yielded new possibilities. The recent Accuride 3932 features a half-inch cross-section, yet it can handle a 50% greater max load thanks to its thickened High-Strength Low-Alloy (HSLA) material.

There you have it: The what and why behind the common half-inch cross-section. If you’re interested in a half-inch slide, check out the new medium-duty 150-lb. Accuride 3932 (available with optional Easy-Close) or our venerable 3800 Series, available with virtually any kind of feature you need. For all things movement, stay connected with Accuride!

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