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Drawers: Blum vs Ikea

July 4, 2013

I have a small project of 9 linear feet of all drawers, 18" and 36" units on each side of an island. I am wondering what the difference would be between Ikea and Blum tandembox would be with respect to:
- quality
- price
- ease of assembly
- ease of customizing.

Yes I know the Ikea ones are based on Blum, but there still COULD be a substantial difference.

The drawer fronts would be custom, bamboo plywood.

One one side of the island I want on the 36" unit the 4-drawer configuration (shallow, shallow, deep, deep) for flatwear, utensils, and china, mainly.
The 18" unit on this side will be a garbage pullout.
On the other side I want both the 18" and the 36" units to have the 3-drawer configuration, for pots in the two deep drawers and utensils in the top shallow drawer (full width). In the 18" unit I'd like an interior drawer/ pullout in the middle drawer section.

So, it's not standard for ikea cabinets, yet not that difficult to customize with a bit of hacking.

I wouldn't be doing the assembly myself, but would be hiring a handyman skilled in cabinetry, but he is not a professional cabinet maker. He has worked with Blum products before, but not Ikea.
I am wondering if he shouldn't also just make the cabinet frames also out of bamboo plywood if I don't go the Ikea route.

What do you think, would this be MUCH more expensive than ikea? Other thoughts?

Comments (12)

  • barthelemy

    IKEA Rationell drawers are mid-range Blum Tandembox. The components are identical and perform in the same way. Buying the drawer boxes at ikea would be much cheaper than buying them at a hardware store (in my area you would have to double the price). If you buy Blum drawer slides and sides, you would have to make the drawers bottoms and back yourself, that requires a router for the bottoms.

    IKEA boxes can be screwed on fronts of any given height, you just have to drill proper holes. Drilling templates are available on Blum's website.

  • liriodendron

    I don't think the IKEA equipment is really the same as name-brand Blum, though it's (reportedly, though I've never seen confirmation of that from Blum) made by Blum for IKEA.

    I put some precise measuring implements on the various components and the Blum stuff was a bit thicker and sturdier.

    Does that make a difference in typical kitchen use? I'm not sure. There is a huge difference in price though. If you can use the IKEA stuff, I think I would.

    But it is not correct to state that they are literally the same product with the same specs. etc.



  • sojay

    Thanks, this is the information I'm looking for. I guess I'll need to price out every detail before deciding. I'm hoping the small scale of the project will not break the bank if I do chose the Blum over Ikea. Would it be bad to use both? For example for the 18" cabinet, the components from Ikea seem standard, but not so for the 36" cabinets. Also wondering about whether the dividers etc are similar enough to mix. I'm assuming it's not a good idea, or?

  • xedos

    Blum makes the hardware for IKEA to a specification on contract That spec is for a lower price point and hence and lower quality than Blum's Tandembox offered at your cabinet supply shop or even a Blum tandem drawer system from a European manufacturer.

    That said , it is plenty durable and the price cannot be beat. You will have some trouble customizing IKEA's drawers for width because of the fixed back panels that cannot be resized. You could always order the corresponding backer part from Blum's supply chain and modify the Ikea ones, but you'll earn the discount with your time.

    barthelemy is incorrect about the need for a router to build a regular Tandembox from Blum. It's not necessary at all. A circular saw (oreferably a tablesaw) and a drill with some metric sized bits are all that are required. A router could be helpful especially if you are making hundreds or thousands of drawers , but it's not strictly necessary. The biggest challenge for you in making your own Tandembox drawers will be sourcing 5/8" melamine for the drawer bottoms and backs. It is not readily available at home centers, hardware stores or lumberyards. Usually a special order.

    A complete Tandembox hardware kit costs roughly $60 wholesale and that doesn't include the 5/8" board needed.

  • barthelemy

    I honestly think that "Blum IKEA is manufactured at lower standards" is an urban legend set up by Blum trade agents to justify the huge pricing difference.

    In Europe we have a similar urban legend which says "Grohe at the home improvement centers is not the same as Grohe from the plumbers supply stores." But when you call Grohe to purchase parts they do not ask you where you purchased your faucet ... Sure there is low end and high end Grohe, but a given model is the same wherever you purchase it.

    There is low-end Blum (metabox), mid-range blum (tandembox/tandembox plus), high-end blum (intivo/antaro) too. Most cabinet manufacturers use Tandembox.

    The slides you buy at IKEA are engraved "Blum Tandembox" or "Blum Tandembox Plus Blumotion", depending on the model. If they really were custom for IKEA I think that Blum would have badged them as "Blum for IKEA" just like Whirlpool and Electrolux do for their appliances.
    And if you try to assemble parts from Ikea and Blum parts from the cabinet supply store, they fit perfectly (glides, sides, backs, bottoms, orgaline accessoires, etc) ...

  • sojay

    Oh wow, they do fit together? That's great news. I guess it's worth experimenting a bit with both after all, before the final decision. I'll report back how that goes.

    Thanks for your help!

  • shelayne

    I just wanted to confirm that I just now went and looked at an IKEA drawer box that I have not yet installed, and on the drawer slide, stamped into the metal it says, BLUM TANDEMBOX PLUS.

    I know that the hinges also display BLUM on them, and they are the exact same size and weight of the regular Blum hinges. I also have snapped the "regular" Blum soft-close mechanisms (for doors) onto the IKEA Blum hinges, and they fit. The only difference between the hinges I found is the IKEA hinge has smaller insert screws (the screws that flank the cup) which makes the hinge then "proprietary". Otherwise there is absolutely no difference. Not that the OP was asking about hinges, but just thought I would add that in case anyone was wondering about the hinges. :)

  • susanlynn2012

    Shelayne, Thank you for letting us know that the IKEA drawer boxes drawer slides do say BLUMB TANDEMBOX PLUS.

  • missbennett

    I saw this late, but wanted to chime in; they are essentially the same, with only one small difference that I am capable of measuring (there may be slight other differences). We retrofitted our face-frame cabinets with Ikea Blum boxes - after using some clearance As-Is Adel drawer fronts (.60 cents each) for runners (we cut each into long thirds, then attached to the inside of our cabinets for the rails to be attached to - they were the perfect spacing). Some people have cut the back of the brackets and attached them - I didn't like that look, so I purchased some back brackets (search for Blum M Back Bracket Tandembox) - this was for the old ikea Rationell drawers. The Blum brackets fit beautifully into the Rationell drawer backs - I then cut a back of material similar to the drawer bottoms (which I cut on the table saw, then needed to slightly raise the blade to cut a channel in one end - if you look at the bottom of the drawer, you will see that channels are on both sides, for the sides to slide into. That was easy - I just made sure to cover with painter's tape first to avoid chipping out.)

    I was able to directly compare the Blum boxes with the Ikea boxes, because there was one drawer where I couldn't fit Blum depth drawers - I had hacked the cabinet depth to fit in an awkward spot, but still wanted drawers, so I needed to order Blum kits for this one area.

    Here is the difference I could measure; on the sides, there is a slightly wider gap for where the sides accept the bottom - so, the bottom board would need to be 3 mm* thicker. I discovered this because I didn't compare them, and there was an issue when I used the Ikea bottom I found in As-Is to cut a back and bottom for that drawer. The bottom was too loose, and the back didn't sit flush with the brackets. I measured, comparing the two, and it did take slightly thicker stock. I am slightly surprised that the back brackets fit the sides, but they do, if anyone has any Rationell sides lying around and want to try this themselves.

    * EDIT: this was corrected by me to read 3mm instead of 3cm. Also, the back brackets take slightly thicker stock as well.

  • fabbric

    Do you mean 3mm? Because 3cm is over 1". I stocked up on all the Blum stock I could get at IKEA for my upcoming kitchen so this is good to know.

  • missbennett

    So sorry! I meant 3mm. Thank you, I corrected that - I also added that the back brackets require the same slightly thicker stock (than the usual Ikea drawer bottom - so if you marry the back Blum brackets to the Ikea bottoms, you use the Ikea bottom if possible, but have to create a back.) I am not sure if I can post a link, but Google Tandembox & measurements.

    If you have the Ikea Rationell drawers, and you need to cut them narrower for some reason, the provided drawer bottom will work fine if you cut it, then cut a channel like the opposite side. I found a number of cover panels on clearance in As-Is which were the thickness I needed for the Rationell drawers which I found in As-Is which were not wide enough, so if you need to make wider drawers, measure the thickness of the provided bottoms, and either find what you need at your local big box, or see what you can find at Ikea. From what I discovered on-line, get fiberboard versus particleboard. It is better in most ways. Doesn't chip out when you cut it, is stronger, and lots more info online. I'd recommend you start with one pair of back brackets, and see how they work for you.

    Also, the one big struggle I had was figuring out where to drill the holes - while I highly recommend the BLUM front marking template for drawer fronts, and wish I purchased it, I designed a really helpful almost free solution; you know wall anchors? Those little plastic inch long or so anchors which are put into a wall prior to a screw? I put a couple in (from the front) of the Ikea drawer front brackets (which hold the drawer to the drawer front), cut most of the rest off the back of the bracket, then installed short pointy screws from the back, then popped them onto the sides once they were ready to fit the drawer fronts. I fit drawers from the bottom up, leaving appropriate space between each drawer (about 1/16th). It really helps to create a sturdy low and level platform for the installation of the lowest drawer, so you can place the drawer at the correct height without too much duress (learned the hard way.) Then, place your drawer against these screws, and give it a hard whack - they will leave marks on the drawer of where to drill. Use a penny or some other spacer between that installed drawer and the next drawer, and do the same. Then remove the jig bracket, and replace with a non-jig bracket. For the last drawer you install, just remove the screws and plastic anchors after you have marked your spot. Here is a photo (poor, sorry, my phone camera is not great) of how I constructed the drawer jig.

  • JIANG Zheng

    I am currently do the same thing, I have both Antro and Rationell at home, the main difference is, as missbennett said, the bottom accpeted by rationell is about 14mm thick and use a channel to fix, while original Tandembox needs a 16mm bottom and use screws to fix (or a channel, but not the same way like IKEA).

    The back brackets for Tandembox can be used on Rationell.

    However, for the newer Maximera serial, it's a complicated thing. At first Maximera has different supplier in differenct countries, for example in here France it's supplied by Blum only until 2015, then replaced by FGV, so you can't do this hack at all. I find last month in Germany and Austria it was still by Blum but this month is seems being replaced by another, and in USA it seems be Blum. Secondly, I have a shallow Maximera made by Blum in hand, it's generally an Antaro, but I find the bracket for back has a different setting compared to regular Antaro so the hack can't be done.

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