Every homeowner could use more kitchen storage space. The two most common ways to gain extra storage are to add an island or peninsula or enlarge the kitchen. Both are effective, though they require the extra room and a healthy savings account.
A more efficient approach is to upgrade existing cabinetry to make better use of your storage space. Our cure is to build full-extension, glide-out shelves for base cabinets. Why? Most base cabinets are used for storing pots, pans, mixing bowls and other bulky items. Because the 24-in.-deep cabinets are just big, empty boxes, a lot of space gets wasted. Plus, glide-out shelves keep things organized and provide easy access without your having to bend over.
Building the shelves yourself isn't expensive. The cost for all the lumber, hardware and finishing supplies to construct two shelves for our 30-in.-wide cabinet was about $100. That's a lot less than manufacturers' prices of $75 to $115 per shelf as add-on accessories for 24- to 36-in.-wide cabinets.
Each shelf is mounted to a pair of 22-in.-long Accuride Series 3832 full-extension drawer slides, which cost around $17 per pair. The load rating of these smooth-rolling, ball-bearing slides is 100 lbs., the minimum capacity for heavy kitchen loads. They come in lengths ranging from 10 in. ($15) to 28 in. ($21), and in three colors—black, white and zinc.
"Full-extension" means the entire shelf slides out of the cabinet. You can substitute standard drawer slides (just $7 per pair), but then only three-quarters of the shelf will be accessible.
Slides are typically fastened directly to the inside walls of a cabinet or to stationary brackets screwed in place. Unfortunately, neither offers a practical way to adjust shelves up or down for storing tall or short items. We discovered a way to gain total storage flexibility and simplify the installation process: Each slide is mounted to a pair of shelf standards ($6 for four 24-in.-long, brass-finish standards) with Accuride's Shelf Standard Brackets ($10 for a set of four; one set is needed for each shelf). The brackets bolt onto the slides and snap into the slots in the standards. This system can be installed in both face-frame and frameless cabinets.
Building the Shelves
Each shelf measures 22 in. deep X 25 1/2 in. wide, and is built of 1X4 poplar with a 1/2-in. birch-plywood bottom. To build both drawers, you'll need two 8-ft.-long poplar 1X4s ($1 per linear foot) and a half sheet of 1/2-in. birch plywood ($19).
Most factory-built glide-out shelves have 1/4-in.-thick plywood or hardboard bottoms. To ensure that our shelves won't sag under the weight of cast-iron pots, we beefed them up with 1/2-in. plywood bottoms set in grooves cut into the shelf sides, fronts and backs. We milled the 3/8-in.-deep grooves with a router fitted and 1/2-in.-dia. straight bit; you can also use a table saw with a dado blade.
Before cutting any lumber, determine the width of the glide-out shelves. Measure the inside of the cabinet, then subtract 3 1/2 in. for the space taken up by each standard and bracket (1 1/4 in.) and each slide (1/2 in.). Cut two 1X4s to that dimension to serve as the front and back of each shelf. Then cut two other pieces 21 1/4 in. long for the shelf sides. The sides fit into 3/8-in.-deep rabbets, which will be routed later into the front and back to create a 22-in.-deep shelf.
After cutting the 1X4s to size, rout a 3/8-in.-deep X 1/2-in.-wide groove into each one. To ensure accuracy, fasten an edge-guide attachment to the router base. Adjust the guide to cut the groove 1/2 in. from the bottom edge of the board. Then start routing, moving into the board from left to right with the guide tightly pressed against the edge of the board (left).
Next, clamp the front and back pieces together and adjust the guide for a 3/4-in.-wide cut. Move the router from left to right across the ends of the boards to cut a 3/8-in.-deep X 3/4-in.-wide rabbet .
Once all the joints are milled, spread glue onto the shelf-front rabbets and attach the shelf sides with 4d (1 1/2-in.) finishing nails.
Squeeze a little glue into the groove in the shelf front, slide in the bottom and nail on the rear of the shelf. Let the glue dry for four hours, then smooth all surfaces with a finishing sander and 120-grit sandpaper. Wipe off all dust and coat the shelf with sanding sealer.
After about an hour, lightly hand-sand the shelf with 180-grit sandpaper and apply a second coat of sealer. Sanding sealer protects the wood and makes cleanup easy. You could use polyurethane, but the sealer is cheaper (about $6 per quart compared with $8 to $10) and dries faster, so you can easily apply two or three coats in a half day.
Putting on the Hardware
Next, install the standards on the inside of the cabinet. Use a level to make sure they're perfectly vertical (left), then secure them with 5/8-in.-long screws. Position the front standards 2 1/2 in. from the inside edge of the face frame; on a frameless cabinet measure from the front edge of the cabinet. Install the rear set 17 1/16 in. from the first set, measuring from the center of one to the center of the other.
Bolt two metal shelf-standard brackets to each drawer slide, making sure they're 17 1/16 in. from center to center. To mount the slides, snap the clips into the slots in the standards. (below)
Detach the sliding rail from each slide by depressing its release lever, and fasten a rail to each side of the shelves with screws (above).
To install each shelf, align its sliding rails with the slides inside the cabinet and push it all the way in. The rails will automatically lock into place.
Where to Find It:
12311 Shoemaker Ave.
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Rockler Woodworking and Hardware
4365 Willow Dr.
Medina, MN 55340