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In most instances, it seems people use these to store cooking sheets, extra pans, and sometimes lids. However, most (all that I have used) of these storage compartments have terrible tracks and don't seem to support holding heavier items without a lot of strain.

Is there an intended manufacturer use for this storage? If there is no intended use, is there a reason manufacturers neglect making them sturdy (other than the obvious: cost savings)?

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    I wonder if this is partly vestigial from gas ovens. In a gas oven, the lower compartment is the broiler, because the flame unit in a gas oven is at the bottom, so the broiler is right underneath the flame unit. Perhaps oven makers are making one kind of cabinet for both gas and electric ovens and using the "broiler" as "storage" for the electric ovens. So it might just be an afterthought. – Todd Wilcox Nov 22 '17 at 21:28
  • If there is it will be in the owner's manual. If you don't have one, you might check some online. – user3169 Nov 23 '17 at 6:09
  • @ToddWilcox In many gas ovens... not all. Many modern ovens have upper heating elements so you broil in the main oven compartment. That's how my oven is. The bottom is a warmer drawer. – Catija Nov 23 '17 at 6:45
  • I've a gas oven, and its broiler is up top. I use the storage drawer for my wok cover, my tortilla cooking sheets, and my custom tortilla spatula; stuff that does not fit nicely elsewhere. – Wayfaring Stranger Nov 23 '17 at 22:49
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Most of the oven drawers are for storage; and in my experience it is always badly implemented (like you, it never work well)

Some oven have warming drawer to keep food warm (check your specific oven).

  • The drawer for keeping food warm is often useful for warming plates before serving food on them. – dbmag9 Nov 23 '17 at 8:28
  • Fun fact: if the drawer has a "lip" to use as a handle, it is probably a storage-type drawer. If it has an actual handle that extends out from the drawer face (like an oven drawer, then it is likely a warming drawer :) – BunnyKnitter Nov 24 '17 at 17:23
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Put anything you want into it, as long as it's not flammable.

That drawer is there because sometimes manufacturers use the same frames for both gas and electric ovens, and most of the time people just expect the oven front to have a certain configuration. Since gas ovens came first, the "typical" oven design is based on gas ovens. In a gas oven, the broiler would be located underneath the oven, so that drawer is there even though it's fairly useless in an electric oven.

It's also there because what would the manufacturer do with the space otherwise? They're not likely to make the oven chamber go all the way down to the floor level, as useful as that might be around the holidays. Among other things, folks don't want to lean down that far for the bottom rack.

Since buyers don't have any strong expectations about that drawer, manufacturers of economy ovens make it as cheaply as possible, hence the flimsy construction you mention. In more deluxe versions, the drawer will be reinforced and might even have dividers or shelves.

In more unusual oven designs, such as dual-door ovens, that drawer isn't there because the space is actually useful.

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