If you've ever been in a Rockler Woodworking and Hardware store or perused one of their catalogs, you've probably noticed a large amount of space given over to Accuride drawer slides. Essentially a commercial product developed for furniture manufacturers, Accuride has become a staple of amateur cabinetmakers across the country.
That wasn't necessarily the plan. Starting out in 1962 as a small tool and die shop in California, the company found a niche in industrial and electronic markets, where their precision sliding mechanisms were eagerly embraced. Success followed and, by the 70s, Accuride had gone global and opened a factory in West Germany.
About that same time, according to Deborah Kniegge, Accuride's Director of Marketing Communications, the company first introduced a family of slides that pioneered big changes in how furniture was manufactured.
"Many manufacturers were still using wooden runners and roller bearing slides," Deborah recalled. "We had to convince them to switch over to more expensive, but more precise ball bearing slides for the woodworking industry."
But Accuride found that maintaining precision can be challenging. "Wood is never perfectly straight," Deborah explained. "There are all kinds of variances. When it gets hot or cold, dry or humid, wood swells and shrinks. We had to develop breathing tabs and movement rails to accommodate the tolerances."
By the end of the 70s, the company had introduced the first complete family of power slides for the wood office furniture industry. The product line included the 200 and 400 series slides for file drawers, box drawer slides, pencil drawer slides, and even the Flipper Door Slides® for overhead storage bins that are a mainstay of corporate offices. With the 80s, came an expansion into the United Kingdom, a wide increase in applications, and the start of the company's relationship with Rockler Woodworking and Hardware.
"Rockler, which was called the Woodworker's Store back then, was our entry into the home hobby market," Deborah recalled. "They are the one who created the interest and ultimately the demand for our products among hobbyist. Even today, our marketing to the home hobbyist continues to be done through distributors."
As the line between commercial shops and high-end amateurs has blurred, hobbyists have embraced and adapted the full range of Accuride slides. The company's relatively petite 2632 slide originally came out of their design work for the toolbox industry, but its small profile makes it ideal for home-scaled projects. Keyboard trays, self-closing mechanisms, and the whole range of load-bearing and different-sized slides have found their way into home-made pantries, entertainment centers, computer desks, and kitchen cabinets.
At the recent IWF in Atlanta, the company continued its long tradition of innovation and enjoyed a steady stream of shop owners and distributors, millwork operators, and residential cabinetmakers of all kinds and sizes. Among the products previewed, two will be of special interest to woodworkers:
Platform Brackets for the 9301 Slide
According to Deborah, people were always jerry-rigging some sort of mounting on this huge, beefy slide (up to 60" long). The brackets make the slide more user friendly and applicable to big kitchen pantries. Now they're even capable of handling large television sets -- with the brackets, the slides are load-graded to 350 pounds!
Starting with a heavy-duty slide, the company added a self-closing mechanism to create the perfect slide for kitchen recycling bins, waste containers, laundry baskets, or pet food bins.
Most of the company's other product lines are strictly commercial and even woodworking product development is still guided by commercial applications. Accuride values their home hobbyist customers and works hard to support them: "We encourage all of our customers to contact us with ideas and problems," Deborah explained. "We get a ton of home hobbyists calling or emailing our tech support, and we're happy to answer their questions. We want them to use our website, and we give them the same priority as our large customers."
Almost all the company's woodworking related products are available from Rockler Woodworking and Hardware's retail stores, mail-order catalog and website.