6 Roll-Out Cabinet Drawers You Can Build Yourself
We show you key planning tips and where to find detailed rollout assembly instructions.
Benefits of Rollouts
It may sound like hype, but adding pull out drawers, or rollouts, to your kitchen cabinets can be life-changing. Here you’ll get tips for planning, buying and building kitchen rollouts so they can change the way you organize your kitchen. You can build a simple rollout drawer like the ones shown in a couple of hours for $20. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Once you see that rollout in action, you’ll want to retrofit all your kitchen cabinets. Check out these unique kitchen cabinet ideas you’ll want to steal.
Think Inside the Box
Building a slew of identical drawer boxes is easier, but having a variety gives you more versatility. Think about what you’re going to store and build the boxes to suit your needs.
Sloping sides: Rollout drawers with sloping sides keep tall things stable yet still let you see all the way to the back of the shelf. These are good for nesting pots and pans or storing different-size items on the same shelf.
Low sides: Lower sides (3 in. is typical) work well for smaller items such as canned goods and spices. The low sides make reading labels easier.
High sides: Shelves with higher sides all around (6 in. tall rather than the typical 3 in.) are ideal for tippy plastic storage containers or stacks of plates.
While you’re revamping your kitchen, avoid these trends that are on the way out.
Use the Right Slides
There are a dozen kinds of drawer slides out there, but if you want to keep shopping and installation simple, stick to these two types:
Roller slides glide on plastic wheels. They’re inexpensive, a cinch to install (it takes about two minutes) and nearly impossible to screw up. You’ll find them at home centers under various names including side mount, under mount and bottom mount. Most are rated to carry 35 to 100 pounds. For heavy-duty rollouts holding items such as canned goods, use slides rated for at least 100 pounds. The big disadvantage: Most roller slides extend only three-quarters of their length.
Ball-bearing slides glide on tiny bearings. The big advantage of these slides is that they extend fully, giving you complete access to everything in the drawer. They’re about three times the cost of roller slides, and they’re usually rated to carry 75 to 100 pounds, but you can get 200-pound versions for about $40 a pair. Home centers carry ball-bearing slides, but you’ll find a wider variety online. The big disadvantage: They’re fussy to install. If your drawer is a hair too big or small, these sliders won’t glide.
Tip: Make drawer boxes about 1/32 in. smaller than you need. It’s easy to shim behind a slide with layers of masking tape to make up for a too-small drawer. It’s a lot harder to deal with a drawer that’s too wide.
Make the Most of Skinny Spaces
In a small kitchen with little storage space, you can make even narrow spaces work harder by installing a vertical pegboard rollout. Kitchen designer Mary Jane Pappas typically recommends 18- to 30-in.-wide rollout drawers for cabinets: ‘Any larger and they’re too clumsy. Any smaller and too much of the space is used by the rollouts themselves.’ But there is one type of rollout that makes good use of narrow spaces, even those only 3 to 6 in. wide. Pappas says that pullout pantries– single tall, narrow drawers with long, shelves, drawers, baskets or even pegboard – can be an efficient way to put skinny spaces to work. Shown is the 434 Series 6-in. Base Filler with stainless steel panel from Rev-a-Shelf, the perfect pull out drawers for cabinets. These other tiny kitchen ideas will help make the most of your space.
Start at the Bottom with Slide Out Cabinet Shelves
The most useful rollout shelves and drawers are the ones closest to the floor since these eliminate the most awkward bending and crouching. If you want to limit your time and money investment, you’ll get the most bang for your buck by retrofitting these areas first with slide out cabinet shelves. Then paint your cabinets one of these gorgeous dark shades.
Store-Bought Rollouts – What to Look For
You can spend as little as $10 for a simple wire rollout basket or as much as $100. So what’s the difference? Look for rollouts with quality hardware. Second-rate slides and rollers can sag or seize up under sacks of flour and pots and pans. Examine the slides to check whether they’re roller slides (which extend only three-quarters of their length) or ball-bearing (which extend fully). Ball-bearing slides tend to support heavier items and roll more smoothly. Choose sturdy, chrome-plated steel rollouts for heavier items. Steel rollouts come in different gauge metals. Before ordering online, shop around at different retailers so you can physically compare the weight and density of the steel used by different manufacturers. Epoxy-coated wire rollouts and plastic inserts work fine for light-duty items, but they have a tendency to crack, bend and scratch if packed with heavy loads like canned goods.
Medium-weight: IKEA’s Rationell Variera pullout basket works well for medium-weight items.
Heavy-weight: The Lynk Rollout Undersink Drawer can take heavy use.
Light-weight: Rubbermaid’s Slide Out Undersink Basket handles light items.
Watch for Obstacles
Every cabinetmaker has a story about the rollout that wouldn’t roll out but instead collided with something. When you’re measuring for the spacer width, watch out for protruding hinges and doors that don’t open fully or that protrude into the cabinet opening. These are the best storage containers to get your home in order.
Avoid Mistakes With a Story Stick
The most obvious way to size rollout parts is to measure the opening of the cabinet and then do the math. But that’s a recipe for mistakes because it’s easy to forget to subtract one of the components (like the width of the slides or the drawers) from the overall measurement. So try this: Forget the math and mark your measurements on a piece of scrap wood. It’s a great visual aid that helps you prevent mistakes and having to walk between your kitchen and your shop constantly to double-check measurements.
Divide Up Wide Spaces
If the cabinet is more than 30 in. wide, consider installing two narrower rollouts side by side rather than a single wide one. This means some extra building work and buying more slides, but the smaller rollouts will operate more smoothly and easily. Wider shelves and drawers tend to bind or rack as you slide them in and out. Adding a divider creates 12 handy rollouts instead of 6 big awkward ones. If you don’t have a pantry, here are some storage solutions that won’t break the bank.
Baltic Birch is Best
Cabinetmakers love Baltic birch plywood for rollouts because the edges look great. Unlike standard hardwood plywood, Baltic birch never has voids in the inner core. It may not be labeled ‘Baltic birch’ at home centers, but you’ll be able to identify it by comparing it with other hardwood plywood in the racks. It’ll have more and thinner laminations in the plywood core. The biggest disadvantages of using Baltic birch are that it costs more than standard hardwood plywood and can be harder to find. A 4 x 8-ft. sheet will run you $65 compared with $50 for standard hardwood plywood. If your home center doesn’t carry it, try a traditional lumberyard.
Keep Drawer Boxes Simple
All the drawer boxes in your kitchen or workshop can be kept super-simple: with butt-joint corners and glued-on bottoms. No rabbets, dadoes or dovetails. They won’t look very impressive, but they’ll hold up for years. If simple boxes can carry tools and hardware, we figure they can stand up to kitchen use, too. Consider having drawer boxes made to your exact specs and then install them yourself. By the way, these kitchen storage ideas will free up so much space.
Build a Roll-Out Pantry Cabinet
Most cabinet manufacturers now include roll-out shelves in their base cabinets. But if you don’t have this convenience, this project will one-up those shelves. Here we’ll show you how to make an entire roll-out pantry.
The hardware consists of two heavy-duty bottom-mounted slides and one center-mounted top slide that together can support 130 lbs. Again, construct your unit to suit your needs. We made our bottom tray 3-1/2 in. tall and the upper ones 2-1/2 in. tall. You may want to include only two trays if you’ll be storing cereal boxes and other tall packages. Since you’ll be converting your door from swinging to rolling mode, you’ll need to remove the door and hinges. You’ll also have to remove the existing handle and reinstall it centered on the door. If your hardware mounts from the backside, install it before attaching the door. Get the full instructions here.
Build Classic Rollouts Plus a Trash Center
Base cabinets have the least convenient storage in your kitchen. We’ll show you how to bring everything in your cabinets within easy reach by retrofitting your base cabinets with classic rollout shelves. This tutorial shows how to construct a special rollout for recycling and trash without using expensive bottom-mount hardware. Here, get step-by-step instructions for measuring, building the rollout drawer and its carrier, attaching the drawer slides and mounting the unit in the cabinet.
Build Rollouts in Underused Locations
The space under sinks is often overlooked, but it’s prime real estate for rollouts. This article gives step-by-step instructions for how to build two types of customizable rollout trays that fit around and below plumbing pipes, garbage disposers and other obstacles beneath your sink. These rollouts transform that ‘I’m not sure what’s under there’ storage space into an organized and efficient location for cleaning supplies that lets you see everything you’ve got in one glance.
Build Rollouts at Ankle Level
Turn wasted toe-kick cavities into clever flat storage space for serving trays, cutting boards and baking pans. This article shows you how to construct self-contained rollout shelving units that you assemble in your shop and then just slip into place beneath your existing cabinets. We walk you through measuring and building the shelf and carrier units, and then installing them in your kitchen.
Space-Saving Sliding Garage Storage Shelves
Let’s face it. No matter how big your garage is, there never seems to be enough room to store everything. But by making ultra-efficient use of the narrow area on the sidewall of your garage, this storage project can help. The heart of the system is a series of double-sided rollout shelves that allow easy access to everything that can be stored in a narrow space. With these rollouts, you don’t have to store your paint cans, nails, screws and other stuff four layers deep and then shuffle everything around to find what you’re looking for. When the shelves are pulled out, everything is in full view and easily accessible. Plus, the garage looks neat and tidy when the shelves are pushed back in.
Don’t worry if you’ve also got some large items to store. The 16-ft.-long top shelf is 32 in. deep to hold big storage containers, and there’s a 3-ft.-wide section of 16-in.-deep shelves for medium-size items. The storage unit is 16 ft. long, 84 in. tall and 16 in. deep. Get the plans to make your own.