The silverware drawer in the kitchen suffered a hardware failure the other day: the plastic bracket at the rear of the right-side rail broke, and the rail came loose.

The kitchen cabinets are twenty years old, and that particular drawer holds more weight than any of the others, so I’m not really surprised that this happened.

Time for a bit of carpentry, thought I.

Jennifer went to Menards and bought a set of replacement rails; once these were home, they didn’t seem quite sturdy enough to hold up a drawer full of silverware. We returned them & tried Home Depot instead.

At Home Depot, we discovered that our cabinets use non-standard hardware: Home Depot stocks 22″ and 24″ rails, but ours are…23″. (I imagine the contractor who built the house picked these up cheap, either from the low bidder or from his brother-in-law.)

We went with 22″ rails. (Would 24″ have been the better choice? I’ll be gnawing that question for the next ten years. At least.)

Installing the new rails seemed straightforward enough: attach the brackets to the rear of the cabinet, insert the rails, attach other end of the rails to the front of the cabinet. Easy-peasy, bob’s-your-uncle, etc., etc.

Alas, no. Getting everything lined up – so the drawer fit inside the cabinet and rolled smoothly in & out – proved rather difficult. That I was lying on the floor, with the upper half of me inside the cabinet, didn’t help. (Actually, it hurt. A lot.)

Sam helped at one point, sitting inside the cabinet to mark drill points while I held things steady & level. Jennifer helped a great deal, keeping track of tools & hardware, holding the flashlight, and in general being a calming influence.

We spent a few hours on this, Sunday afternoon, and…it wasn’t quite right. The drawer almost fit in the cabinet, and almost rolled smoothly in & out – except when it got stuck & wouldn’t roll at all.

“Let’s finish this tomorrow,” I said.

Monday afternoon, it occurred to me that I’d been going about it all wrong. The brackets attached to a small board that in turn was attached to the rear of the cabinet – if I could get that out, I could do all the measuring, drilling & screwing-in while sitting comfortably at the kitchen table.

It took a minute or two to dismantle what had taken hours of work to assemble; then I arranged everything neatly on the table and started over.

The second try was quicker, easier, and – unlike the first – actually works.

That’s the thing about carpentry. Doing it the right way is quick, easy & painless. Doing it any other way is to suffer the tortures of the damned. I must try to remember this lesson for any future projects that may arise.