DiY Slide-Out Shelves

2 Materials
1 Day
On October 31, 2013, we moved into this home. Shafts of autumn sun pierced through the windows that day, illuminating the kitchen. Granite counters gleamed in the soft golden light. The kitchen was empty but full of promise. The polished rock whispered of wine glasses and fruit bowls, of orchids and hors d'oeuvres. Fast forward two years and listen. You'll hear the granite whisper no more. Instead you'll hear it bitch about spilled milk and dried paint and bread crumbs in the corners so old, they've petrified. You'll hear it groan from the burden it bears, as appliances piled up and cluttered its mottled slab. You'll hear the granite whine about its dull visage as it reminisces about "The Shiny Years."

My granite may no longer be the belle of the ball, but she shouldn't have to suffer the indignities I've put her through these past few years. I decided to restore her to her former glory. There was only one problem: where would I put all the appliances in order to reveal her bare and simple self? I couldn't put them in the cabinets - they were all full of crap. Full of crap....hmmmm. I squatted down, knees popping in protest. I opened the cabinet doors and looked into their depths. My suspicions were confirmed. They were full of crap! I took a quick inventory of the biggest double cabinet and realized that I'd only been using maybe 3% of its space - just a little corner in the front where I kept my barbecue thermometer and muslin bags for straining yogurt. The rest of the space was filed with piles and piles of crap that I hadn't touched in two years. I even found two packages of ice cream cones that I'm pretty sure I bought before we moved in. It was time for action. *Affiliate links used in this post*
The problem with most lower cabinets in the kitchen is that they are just too deep, and we chefs are just too old. Stuff gets pushed to the back and forgotten, because the effort involved in excavating and mining kitchen paraphernalia from the depths of lower cabinetry far outweighs the reward. So we push, we pile, and we forget. This leads not only to wasted space but also to duplicate purchases, as we keep buying things we already have, simply because we can't reach them, or we've forgotten we ever owned them in the first place.

The easiest way to reach the nether regions of a cabinet is not for you to go to the nether region, but for the nether region to come to you. Enter slide-out shelves. When I first lit upon the idea, I went online to see how much they would cost. That resulted in popped eyeballs and chest pains. Home Depot sells one shelf with slides for $90.

$90! For one! I gagged and sputtered. At least it comes with a quality slide mechanism. But seriously. $90. For one. I needed eleven of them. Obviously I wouldn't be buying them (but honestly folks, was that ever really an option?). It was time to break out my notepad and start designing.

I wanted to start with the double cabinet pictured above. I wanted two big drawers, spanning the whole space. That would require knocking out that center support column. Good, I love breaking stuff!

Don't worry! That silly support was not load-bearing. The granite is fully supported by the other three sides of the carcass, and the drawer above is supported on the sides. However, just to be safe, I reinforced the crossbar below the drawer with a piece of 3/4 plywood (not pictured).
That shelf was not removable, at least not without destroying the sides of the cabinet. I left it in place and used it as a handy guide for placing the slides. I opted for quality ball-bearing drawer slides. They hold a hell of a lot more weight than the cheap ones with the wheels. They look better and feel better, too. For 22 slides, they run about $16 for a pair at Home Depot. If you don't have a Home Depot or Lowes in your area, Amazon carries them for about a dollar less than the Big Box stores.
Before I could install the slides, I had to install some gap-filler plywood strips on which to mount the slides. You can see that the face frame around the cabinet is not flush with the inner cabinet walls. The gap was 13/16, so I filled it with strips of 3/4 plywood and three washers at each of the three screws used to secure each strip. Now the mounting strips were flush with the edges of the frame. This was necessary so the slides could function unimpeded.
Okay, with the slides installed, now it was time to build the shelves based on my notebook scribblings. I give dimensions on our blog as they relate to the width and depth of the cabinet, in case you are interested in building a few.

I used 1/2 birch plywood. It is important to use high-quality plywood for a project like this. I drilled pocket holes around three sides of the base and on the short ends of the back piece.

To make the sides, I first drew the curve I wanted on one of the pieces then cut it out with a bandsaw. A jigsaw would work just as well.
I sanded the curve to get it as smooth as possible. I then used that piece as a template for all the other sides.

I started constructing the shelf by securing the back piece to the base. I first ran a bead of glue along the back edge of the base. Then I put a white poly-sheet in the drawers.

Once I was finished with the slides, it was time to head back upstairs. I screwed the slides onto the shelf sides and installed the shelves into the cabinet.

And with pots...
To see the rest of the cabinets and the countertop reveal, head over to our blog!

If you are interested in similar crafts & DiY projects, click on the below link to see more crafts & DiY projects from The Navage Patch. 

Thank you for reading. --Greg
Suggested materials:
  • Plywood
  • Saw
Handan & Greg @ The Navage Patch
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 31 questions
  • Susan Coleman Susan Coleman on Jan 30, 2018

    Love this. But I also have a corner cabinet, how could I do the same thing?

  • Marge Stull George Marge Stull George on Jan 30, 2018

    When the cabinet is closed is there a space between the two doors?

  • Lynn Lynn on Nov 02, 2021

    How would you do this with inset doors?

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  • Sue Blackman Sue Blackman on Aug 08, 2020

    Not sure I could tackle this project, but it was an entertaining read. If you’re not in journalism or some type of “writing “ job, you should be.

  • Patty Patty on Feb 01, 2023

    I need you to come to my house!