Can I just order shells and use my own long or short boxes?
Well, yes we can sell just shells. You can call us to order direct. However, we do not ordinarily offer that option because our experience has shown that most customers quickly become dissatisfied with that option.
Keep in mind that our DrawerBoxes are designed to be an integrated system. They are a mechanical device, not just a storage box. Like any mechanical device, to work properly all the parts must fit so they work together. The overall length of the DrawerBox is 26". If you use a 29" long box it will stick out. And you would have to reach into the shell several inches to withdraw a short box. The 26" length was not an arbitrary decision. The extra comics in the length of a 29" box increases the weight of the drawer by about a 15% increase, around 8 pounds. That manifests itself 2 ways: since that extra weight is multiplied by the number of boxes you stack, the maximum height they can be stacked is reduced. More significantly, the drawer becomes heavier to pull out.
Assuming you don't mind pulling the heavier weight, you also have to make sure the front of the box that you are pulling on also can withstand the weight. Our drawers have 4 layers of cardboard around the handle to help support them. Most long boxes do not, which means you are pulling more weight with less durability and over the long term they will not hold up. Before attempting to use a regular long or short box as a drawer you should try this simple test: Fill your current long (or short) box full of comics and set it on the floor. While holding the handle, pull the box across the floor the length of the box. Then push it back to its original position. Then grab the handle again and repeat this procedure approximately 100 times. This is duplicating the force you are putting on the front of the box in only one year assuming it is opened twice per week. Most long boxes will bend and tear as the cardboard breaks down in this simple test.
The width of the drawer has to be narrow enough to fit in the housing, but not too narrow or you will have a sloppy operation, not to mention defeating the safety tabs. DrawerBoxes drawers are designed with tabs on the end to signal when the drawer is almost all the way out. This is important because most people are inclined to give the drawer a firm tug to extend the drawer. Without the tab, it is easy to pull the drawer out too far and spill the comics on the floor. Potentially cataclysmic if you pull out a drawer from the 4th level or so!
Height is also crucial. Obviously if the drawer is too tall the drawer will not fit. But even if it is slightly shorter problems may develop because it is normal for the outside to sag a little as weight is applied. This will cause the drawer to pinch and wedge inside. And if the drawer is too much shorter it will not hang properly when it is pulled open since it is the height of the drawer against the top of the shell that keeps it in place when extended. A drawer that is too short will simply fall out if it left too far open. In those cases you have to either remove the drawer entirely every time you open it or never leave the drawer more than partially open, limiting your ability to get to the contents in the back.
We have spent a number of years perfecting our design to ensure our DrawerBoxes work as well as possible. Even though the concept is deceptively simple, considerable engineering went into making sure they would work correctly.
There are a number of manufacturers making both long and short boxes, each one making theirs to a different specification. This is why we realized in the beginning that there was no way we could design a product that would fit everyone else's boxes and still work correctly.
You should also be aware that the BoxSort™ Upright Dividers will not work in other long and short boxes since they must match the interior length precisely and be able to lock under the handle to secure them.