Homebrew, open source, repurposed, hacked, software defined, open hardware

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

IKEA mounting hole dimensions - In case you need to make a custom cabinet

I needed to build kitchen cabinets to fit within a fairly constrained set of dimensions and to match the oven profile at the front.

Why build rather than use a standard module?

There is a saying I first heard from a software developer named Frank Falco: "You can have it done properly, cheaply, or quickly. Pick two!"

The depth of the cabinet needed next to the oven would exceed the standard depth of a cupboard module, plus, the kickboard and profile of the oven needed to be matched, plus, there was plumbing that had to be worked around at the back of the cabinet for the espresso machine drip tray, plus, granite or concrete benchtops need very sturdy framing.

The benchtop would be granite, or cast and polished concrete, and could be made to match the front edge of the oven's range in terms of thickness and depth.

Framing and benchtops aren't too hard to make with routine woodworking tools, but making and finishing flat panel doors and panels can be difficult to do well (I think painting rots the brain), and then you have to select the (often expensive) drawer slides and hinges, and then learn what their mounting requirements are, tool up and do it properly.

I wanted it done properly and cheaply.

So, the solution was to use IKEA doors and drawers, including their mounting hardware in custom enclosures and framing. IKEA hardware also has nice adjustment features, to fine tune alignment.

The only problem was, what were the dimensions of the drawer slides, what was the minimum depth needed for the drawers, what mounting holes were needed, and at what spacing, and what thickness were the doors and drawer fronts?

I couldn't find anything on the net other than references to the standard 32mm European cabinetry system, which appeared to be different to IKEA's mounting hole dimensions.

In the end, I went ahead and bought some bits and pieces from IKEA, hoping for the best, and things worked out.

So, to

1) avoid having to find and decipher my scribbles at some point in the future if I need to do some more cupboards, and

2) help others trying to fit a custom cupboard into somewhere awkward in deciding if IKEA hardware will work in their situation

I have documented what I learnt and put it on the web.

Those planning to build something should glean all that they need to know from the photos. Don't blame me if something doesn't work out for you - IKEA might change things tomorrow, rendering my descriptions obsolete, or I might have made a few typos.

In summary, IKEA uses vertical rows of 32mm spaced 5mm mounting holes, about 26mm from the front face of the cupboard enclosure, and starting 44mm above the bottom surface of the cupboard enclosure. There is a second vertical row 300mm behind the first row, for mounting the drawer slides, also starting 44mm above the bottom surface of the cupboard enclosure.

Inside dimensions of the various cabinets are about 364mm, 464mm, and 564mm, to give overall outside dimensions of about 400mm, 500mm, and 600mm for the modules.

Minimum cabinet depth for drawers is 550mm, if soft closers are not used. Cabinet walls are 18mm thick, and door/drawer faces are 16mm thick, made of MDF in my case.

On to the photos.

First of all, for anyone contemplating construction of cupboards and drawers with IKEA kitchen hardware, there are some critical dimensions that need to be known.

1) Distance from the rear face of the door to the vertical mounting holes. I found 26mm to be a pretty good spacing. The hinges allow some adjustment. It should not be less than 25mm.

2) Distance from the bottom of the door to the hinge mounting holes. 44mm and 76mm (Given the 32mm spacing).

3) Minimum depth needed for an IKEA drawer is about 550mm. A bit more is needed if soft closers are attached to the rear of the drawer slides:

4) Distance to the drawer slide mounting hole. 26mm is about right.

5) The thickness of the drawer/door fronts = 16mm:

Overall, the most critical dimension is the height to the first 5mm mounting hole, from the bottom surface of the cupboard. I settled on 44mm. The vertical row of 32mm spaced holes should be no less than 25mm from the front face of the cupboard enclosure, against which the doors and drawers close. 26mm is better, as it gives you more leeway with door hinge adjustments. 27mm may be OK.

I bought a "CMT Universal Boring Jig" from www.carbatec.com.au to make the 5mm holes easier to drill at 32mm spacing, and because I had a lot of them to do. Nothing stops you doing it manually without a jig if you're careful, or if you only plan to do just enough holes for your specific door hardware.

It just so happened that a reversed pin placed (shown above in the photo as it would fall out due to gravity otherwise) under the jig in a 52mm door hinge hole gave a 44mm spacing for the first hole along the 32mm spaced holes, simplifying setup.

The jig has been designed with 25mm between the front face and the centre of the 32mm holes. I think 26mm works out a bit better with IKEA door hardware.

The boring attachment is then used with a 5mm wood drill.

Once a few 5mm holes have been drilled initially,

the clamp is augmented with the provided pins to ensure ongoing alignment while drilling.

Hmm, so far so good.:

The next step is to mark out the rear set of 32mm spaced mounting holes. These are used for drawer slides and are 300mm back from the front set:

Marked out and ready for the boring jig once more:

Rear set of holes done:

Door and drawer hardware test fitted:

Hmm, so far so good.

Here's a view of the panel. Note the use of dimensional lumbar, random scrap bits of wood, and flooring chipboard.

Here's the opposite panel which has had the same treatment

The top, sides and bottom ready for assembly:

Although the kickboard/base and custom woodwork still need painting, and the benchtop to match the adjacent oven is a work in progress, coffee was needed, so the IKEA door and drawer was fitted, and the espresso machine put into position: 

Whether you are refitting a kitchen, or fitting out your amateur radio operating room or hackerpsace, I hope this has been useful


  1. Very nice, thank you!

    Where can I find that boring attachment you use?

    1. The complete jig, all of which includes the boring alignment plate, the alignment pins, and the jig attached to the drill to ensure vertical boring, are "CMT" branded, and sold as the "CMT Universal Boring Jig" by my local specialist woodworking tool supplier, www.carbatec.com.au

      I'm sure there'd be other brands out there that specialist woodworking tool suppliers might stock in your local area.

      For a one off job, an existing drill press with alignment guides and a hinged arm or arms with suitably sized alignment pins would probably allow 32mm spaced holes to be made fairly accurately along the edge of a panel, albeit with a bit more mucking around.

  2. Just wanted to thank you for putting this guide together. I'm sure I also speak for a hundred other people who used it but couldn't be arsed to post.
    As far as I'm aware, Australia gets the Euro standard cabinets as opposed to the American ones, which presumably are a tiny bit different due to rounding to bizarre fractions of inches. In case anyone is curious is these measurements are right for them.
    So, thanks!

  3. Thanks for this. Have been measuring our own Ikea cabinets (old) and reading about various 32mm systems. Looks like the Ikea hole system is based on Blum Process 32, with the lowest visible hole 46.5mm from end of cabinet side or 28mm from internal base (18mm carcass + slight 0.5mm overlap at corner). European drawer runners and hinges (Blum, Hettich, Haefle) appear designed for standard 37mm hole row setback. Drawers have an extra hole 9mm forward of the 37mm hole - makes 28mm setback. Ikea doors are a little smaller than the cabinet system to allow for gaps between the fronts.

  4. Thanks for all the information and detail. If I may add my penny’s worth.
    I sourced Hafele 600mm ball bearing full extension draw runners and made my cabinets 600mm deep. Saved on $ and have deeper and wider draws.

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  7. if I am putting a drawer in at the very bottom of the cabinet, do you know what the vertical height of the first hole is, please?

  8. Hi, I am in Canada, and this is 2018. Why do you care? Because I just bought some Ikea cabinets and made some templates to make other cabinets in dimensions that Ikea doesn't carry. My templates didn't work! On the Ikea panels, the holes are 1.25" apart. On my template, the holes are 32mm apart -- checked, re-checked, and re-re-checked. Imagine the fun if I had I installed a few pairs of drawer slides. Those "tiny" differences add up, and MDF is not forgiving. Fortunately, I noticed the problem early on, while I still had time to make some corrections without starting over.
    So going to my first sentence: The Ikea system, as of 2018 in Canada, is NOT a 32mm system. Looking around on the internet, people seem to think that it is. But be warned: 32mm is NOT 1.25". If you are mixing your own custom panels with those from Ikea, make the adjustments in your plans and templates before you start drilling holes.
    Perhaps the Canadian products in Canada are different from their European counterparts, or perhaps Ikea abandoned the Euro standard. Does anyone know?

    1. Hi. I am in Australia (Dec 2018)and have custom drawer fronts to install on the Maximera range of Ikea drawers. Did you record the measurements for installing the connector bits required on the drawer fronts by any chance? Also...my carpenter has built the cabinets and has installed the runners to the drawers. I purchased both standard drawers and then a couple of "hidden" drawers to nest inside. I did the same with a kitchen built in 2008 also using ikea drawers. Can anyone confirm if the "hidden" drawers no longer come with the front bit? My carpenter is out of contact and there were none installed and I cannot see any extra bits lying around!) Annoying that ikea would change a great system.

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