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Under-Cabinet Drawer

Extra storage right where you need it!

under-cabinet drawer cabinet drawersFamily Handyman
Coffee pods, knives, utensils, spices—there are so many good uses for an extra drawer or two under your upper cabinets. You can put one under almost any upper cabinet as long as there's enough space underneath to fit your countertop appliances. So take a look at what's currently cluttering your countertop and make a nice, neat home for it above!

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Here’s how to build this project:

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Cost: $20
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Tools: Basic hand tools, jigsaw or circular saw, drill, 18-gauge nailer (a miter saw and a table saw will speed things up and give you better results)

Two boards and 1/4-in. plywood

This under-cabinet drawer really is a simple project. For lumber, you’ll need 1/4-in. plywood for each drawer bottom (see Figure A), 1×3 for the drawer box and 1×4 for the drawer supports, drawer front and trim board. (You’ll need two trim boards if the drawer is visible from both sides.) We used poplar for all the parts because the exposed parts will be painted to match the cabinets. But if you have natural wood cabinets, choose your wood and finish to match. Paint or finish the drawer front and trim boards before installing them.

Side-mount drawer slides made easy

Ordinarily, installing drawers with side-mount slides is very challenging. But with this technique, everything is built around the drawer, making it very easy.

Most upper cabinets are 12 in. deep. If that’s the case with yours, you’ll need a pair of 10-in. side-mount drawer slides ($15 per pair) for each drawer. You won’t find 10-in. slides at home centers; you’ll have to search for them online or shop at a woodworking store. If you have unusually deep cabinets, you can create deeper drawers and use 12-in. slides, which are readily available at home centers.

The cavity defines the drawer sizes

Peek under your cabinets and you’ll see the cavities. You can put several drawers under a row of cabinets if you wish, but each cabinet needs a separate drawer. If you’re putting in adjoining drawers, hold off on cutting the drawer fronts until all the drawers are installed so you can cut them to fit with even gaps between them. For single cabinet drawers, go ahead and cut the fronts the same length as the cabinet drawers face. You won’t need any drawer pulls. Because the drawer front drops about an inch below the drawer, you’ll have a built-in lip on the underside for a finger pull.

1. Size the drawer

size the under-cabinet drawer

Measure the cavity under the cabinet and cut a piece of 1/4-in. plywood 2-1/2 in. narrower and 1/4 in. shallower than those dimensions.

2. Build the drawer frame

build the under-cabinet drawer frame

Cut 1×3 frame parts to match the plywood dimensions, then glue and nail them together with 1-1/2-in. 18-gauge brads.

3. Add the drawer bottom

attach the under-cabinet drawer bottom

Glue and nail the plywood to the frame using the plywood to square up the frame as you fasten it.

4. Attach the drawer slide

attach the under-cabinet drawer slides

Cut two 1x4s to the same length as the drawer sides, then attach the slides to the drawer supports, holding them flush with the bottom and the end. Use a self-centering drill bit in the round slide mounting holes before sinking the 1/2-in. screws.

5. Join the slide to the drawer

join under-cabinet drawer slide and drawer

Pull out the slide on each drawer support a few inches to expose the mounting holes, then predrill and screw the slides to the drawer sides flush with the front.

6. Finish attaching the drawer slide

finish attaching under-cabinet drawer slides

Pull the slide out the rest of the way to mount the slide to the back end of the drawer.

7. Stick the assembly to the cabinet

place under-cabinet drawer assembly on cabinet

Use double-face tape to temporarily stick the assembly to the underside of the cabinet. (Center it in the opening.)

8. Screw the drawer supports to the cabinet bottom

screw under-cabinet drawer in place

Drill two 1/8-in. pilot holes through the cabinet bottom, then screw into the drawer supports.

9. Stick on the drawer front

place under-cabinet drawer front on

Cut the 1×4 drawer front exactly the same length as the cabinet face frame. Use two nickels to space it from the cabinet frame while you attach it with double-face tape.

10. Attach the drawer front

attach the under-cabinet drawer front

Drill, then permanently attach the drawer front to the drawer frame from the inside with 1-1/4-in. screws.

11. Clamp and screw the side trim into place

place under-cabinet drawer slides on cabinet

Drill pilot holes above the drawer slide and attach the side trim with 1-1/4-in. screws.

Figure A

under-cabinet drawer illustration

Before you adhere and screw the assembly onto the cabinet, have someone help you hold it in place to make sure the drawer clears the cabinet face frame. If it doesn’t, rip 3/4-in. strips of 1/4-in. plywood for spacers (as many as needed) and nail them to the drawer support before mounting the assembly. You can download and enlarge the illustration for this project by clicking “Additional Information” below.

Matching your cabinets

Matching the finish on your existing cabinets can be tricky. Take a cabinet door with you to a paint store and get some help. Unscrew the hinges or, if you have European hinges, just unclip them. At the store they’ll be able to match up paint colors, sheens and stain colors to get a finish that will make your new under-cabinet drawers look like they were built right along with the cabinets.

Additional InformationFor This Cabinet Drawers Project

Plus:

10 Kitchen Cabinet and Drawer Organizers You Can Build Yourself

Quick and Clever Kitchen Storage Ideas