How to Install a Pull-Out Kitchen Shelf
Norm Abram shows how to create easy access to items in a kitchen base cabinet
Make the most of your kitchen's existing storage space by installing a pull-out shelf in one - or all - of the base cabinets. The shelf resembles a shallow drawer that glides out for easy access to items stored in the back of the cabinet.
Our shelf was built for a standard 24-inch-deep by 33-inch-wide base cabinet, but its design is adaptable to virtually any size cabinet. It has a 1x4 pine frame and 3/4-inch birch plywood bottom. If you're only building one or two shelves, you can save some money by going to a home center or lumberyard that sells quarter or half sheets of plywood. And in most cases, they'll even cut the plywood to your dimensions.
If you've never attempted a woodworking project as seemingly complex as this one, don't worry. TOH Master Carpenter Norm Abram created a simplified, straightforward design that can be easily constructed with ordinary tools.
Pull-Out Shelf Overview
With a pull-out shelf, the shallow drawer on full-extension slides eliminates the need to get down on your hands and knees to pick through the back of the cabinet in near darkness. Building and installing a retrofit pull-out shelf is actually a simple process, as This Old House master carpenter Norm Abram shows here.
The sides of the drawer can easily be cut using a power miter saw or a backsaw in a miter box; the bottom can be cut with a circular saw or even precut at the lumberyard. The pieces join together with basic butt joints, which are glued and screwed. Finally, to simplify the finishing process, Norm uses a quick-drying but tough spray lacquer.
There are factory-made wire baskets, trays and other sliding storage devices you can buy. If you go this route, however, be wary of second-rate hardware—it can sag and drag under a load of pots and pans. No worries if you build the shelf shown here, though; its full-extension slides can support over 100 pounds. Besides, nothing store-bought can ever compete with the finished look of a custom-made wood shelf.