How to Install a Pull-Out Kitchen Shelf

Maximize the usable storage in your kitchen by adding pull-out shelves to your kitchen cabinets. Pull-out shelves are similar to drawers in their accessibility, but they actually take up less room vertically. This way, you can enjoy the ease of reaching small items stored towards the back of your cabinets without sacrificing much of the cabinet’s volume for storing larger kitchen accessories.

Pull-out shelves are a versatile storage solution that can be adapted to fit into most any size base cabinet by following these simple steps.

Materials Needed:

  • 1×3 Pine Wood Pieces
  • ¾” thick Plywood Sheet
  • Drawer Slide
  • Birch Wooden Buttons
  • Miter Saw
  • Circular Saw
  • Tape Measure
  • Drill
  • Clamp
  • Adhesive
  • Lacquer
  • Sandpaper

Installing the Pull-Out Kitchen Shelves

1. Measure the Cabinet

Since your existing kitchen cabinets have hinges that allow the doors to swing open, you will need to fur out the interior sides of the cabinets to ensure that the pull-out shelf can glide out past the hinges without obstruction. To do this:

  • Open the cabinet door and place a fully extended drawer slide next to the hinges as close as possible without touching the hardware.
  • With the drawer slide in position, measure the amount of space between the interior cabinet wall and the edge of the drawer slide. This measure represents the thickness of the cleat required to allow the pull-out shelf to slide out without hitting the hinges.
  • Using plywood 1×3 pieces, cut cleats to fur out the interior wall of your cabinetry.
  • Once you have created the wooden cleats, place them on either side of the cabinet interior. Measure between the two cleats and subtract an inch from the total (representative of the width of the two drawer slides) in order to determine the width necessary for the pull-out shelf itself. This dimension includes the frame of the shelf as well as the bottom portion and the depth should match with the full length of the drawer slide.

In order to find the width of the bottom piece of your shelf, subtract 1 ½ inches from the overall width measurement. This takes the ¾ inch thick frame into account so that your pull-out shelf won’t turn out too wide to fit into the cabinet.

2. Assemble the Drawer

  • Create and assemble the frame and bottom portion of your pull-out shelf using the measurements found in the previous step. You may use 1×4’s for the shelf frame and a ¾” thick piece of plywood to serve as the bottom.
  • With a miter saw, cut the frame pieces to size and then use a circular saw to cut the bottom piece of your shelf to the proper size as well. Remember to cut the two side frame pieces the same length as the plywood bottom and the two front and back frame pieces about 1 ½ inches longer than the bottom piece. This will allow the front and back frame pieces to overlap and cover the two side frame pieces.
  • Assemble the two sides and back portion of the frame to the bottom piece of your shelf. Clamp the frame pieces onto the bottom plywood piece and drill pilot holes around the perimeter about every 8 inches.
  • Drill two additional holes in the back frame piece where it overlaps with each side frame.
  • Glue the two side frames to the bottom plywood before connecting them with 1 ⅝ inch screws.
  • Once the two sides of the frame are in place, attach the back piece of the frame in the same manner.

3. Finish the Drawer’s Front Piece

  • Drill holes into the front piece of the frame in the same placement as you did for the back piece of the frame.
  • With the final piece of the frame prepared, you can finish screwing the frame together, completing the pull-out shelf.

Optional: Hide Screw Heads with Wood Buttons

For a refined and professional finish, you can cover any exposed screw heads with wooden buttons. To do this, simply add ½ inch round wooden buttons to the screw holes using a strong adhesive.

4. Finish the Pull-Out Shelf

  • Sand down the entire assembled shelf. Use 120-grit sandpaper to smooth down the shelf and remove extra dust with a damp rag.
  • Before finishing the shelf, move your work area outside in order to allow proper ventilation. Apply a thin and even layer of spray lacquer to the pull-out shelf and allow it to dry for about 30 minutes.
  • After the lacquer has dried, smooth out the shelf with 180-grit sandpaper and wipe off the extra dust with a damp rag before applying a second coat of finishing lacquer.

5. Add the Drawer Slide to the Cabinet Interior

  • Before adding the drawer slides and pull-out drawer to your kitchen cabinet, remove the existing doors by unscrewing the hinges to make access easier.
  • To ensure that the pull-out drawer properly glides out of the cabinet without dragging along the bottom, place some thin wooden shims underneath the cleats before fastening them to the interior side of the cabinet.
  • Using 1 ¼ inch screws, attach the cleats to the sides of the cabinets.
  • Remove the sliding drawer rail section of each of the drawer slides before placing the remainder of the drawer slides on top of the shims against the cleats. Screw the drawer slide mechanism into place and remove the temporary shims.

7. Fasten the Slides to the Drawer

  • Attach the portion previously removed from the drawer slide to the pull-out drawer itself.
  • Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the amount of space to leave between the hardware and bottom of the pull-out shelf.

8. Installing the Pull-Out Shelf

  • Simply align the sliding rail attached to the pull-out drawer with the drawer slides attached to the kitchen cabinet and guide the shelf into place.

If necessary, pull the shelf out and readjust the drawer slides. Once you have successfully added your pull-out shelf to the interior of the cabinet, you can reattach the cabinet doors and enjoy your new storage solution.

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