Kitchen and Dining

Slide Out Cabinet Storage

Kitchen + Dining

Slide Out Cabinet Storage

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 120 Projects

A base cabinet with slide-out trays or shelves is one of those great modern conveniences that has become standard in new kitchen design. Not only do slide-out trays make reaching stored items easier than with standard cabinet spaces—no more crouching and diving into the deep recesses of cavernous low shelves—they also store more items far more efficiently. With a few shallow trays, a standard base cabinet can hold dozens of food cans and still leave room for tall items like cereal boxes and bags of flour or even deep pots and countertop appliances.

To get the most from your new slide-out system, think carefully about how you will use each tray. Measure the items you’re most likely to store together, and let the items dictate the spacing of the trays. Most standard base cabinets are suitable for trays. Wide cabinets (24" or wider) without a center partition (middle stile) are best in terms of space usage, but trays in narrow (18"-wide) cabinets are just as handy. If you have a wide cabinet with a middle stile, you can add trays along one or both sides of the stile. For economy and simplicity, the trays in this project are made with 3/4"-thick plywood parts joined with glue and finish nails. If you prefer a more finished look (not that there’s anything wrong with the look of nice plywood), you can use 1 x 4 hardwood stock for the tray sides and set a 3⁄8"-thick plywood bottom panel into dadoes milled into the side pieces. Another option is to assemble plywood tray pieces using pocket screws so the screw heads don’t show on the front pieces of the trays.


Slide-out trays eliminate the everyday problem of hard-to-reach and hard-to-see spaces in standard base cabinets. Better still, you can install your trays to accommodate the stuff you use most often.


Drawer slides suitable for pullout shelves are commonly available in both standard (left) and full extension (right) styles. Standard slides are less expensive and good enough for most applications—they allow the tray to be pulled out most of the way. Full extension slides are a little pricier than standard slides, but they allow the tray to be pulled completely out of the cabinet box for easy access to items in the back.


Spacers must be mounted to the cabinets before you can install drawer slides for your glide-out shelves. They are necessary for the drawers to clear the cabinet face frame and the door. For 3/4” spacers, a 1 x 2, 1 x 3, or 1 x 4 works well. Paint or finish it to match the cabinet interior.

Installing Slide Out Storage Drawers

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    Lay out the tray positions, starting with the bottom tray. Check the drawer slides to see how much clearance you need for the bottom tray. Draw lines on the side panels of the cabinet to represent the bottom edges of the slide supports. Make sure the lines are level and are perpendicular to the cabinet front. Cut the slide supports to length from 1 x 2 hardwood stock (or any hardwood ripped to 11/2" wide). 

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    Mount the supports to the side panels of the cabinet with glue and screws driven through countersunk pilot holes. Note: Depending on the overhang of the cabinet face frames, you may need thicker support stock to provide sufficient clearance for the trays and slide rails. 

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    Install the drawer slides flush with the bottom edges of the slide supports using the provided screws. Assemble the two halves of each slide, and then measure between the drawer side pieces (rails) to find the exact width of each tray. Plan the depth of the trays based on the cabinet depth. 

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    Cut the bottom piece for each tray from 3/4" plywood 11/2" smaller than the planned width and depth of the finished tray. Rip three 3/4"-wide pieces for the sides, front, and back of each tray. Cut the side pieces to length, equal to the depth dimension of the bottom piece. Cut the front and back pieces 11/2" longer than the width of the bottom. 

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    Build the trays with glue and 6d finish nails or pneumatic brads. Fasten the sides flush with the bottom face and front and back edges of the bottom piece, and then add the front and back pieces. Sand any rough surfaces, and finish the trays with two or three coats of polyurethane or other durable varnish. If desired, you can stain the trays prior to finishing so they match your cabinets. 

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    Partially mount the drawer slide rails to one of the trays, following the manufacturer’s directions. Test-fit the tray in the cabinet and make any necessary adjustments before completely fastening the rails. Mount the slide rails on the remaining trays and install the trays to finish the job.