This is part 2 of the instructions on how to build pull out shelves for a blind corner cabinet.
If you happen to have a standard blind corner kitchen cabinet with one shelf, you know the issue that these shelves are solving…how to get at the stuff in the corner without having to strain to reach it. I tried to find a ready-made solution for this problem but I couldn’t find one that would fit the door opening in my cabinet (it is only 13″ wide). Even if I had been able to, they were all really expensive…so I ended up making it myself. (However, if this sounds like way too much work, you can find a list of options to buy at the bottom of the post).
Part 1 gave the instructions on how to install pull out shelves in that back part of the cabinet which makes reaching the stuff back there much easier. In case you missed it, you can find those instructions here.
This post gives the instructions on how to build the pull-out drawer unit that will go at the front of the cabinet.
This is the very last project of my kitchen organization series…and I have definitely accomplished my goals of clearing the counter top and having easier access to my cooking supplies! In case you missed the other projects and want to catch up, here they are:
To recap all of the kitchen organization projects so far:
- Turn hard-to-reach shelves in the base cabinets into easy-to-access drawers.
- Clear drawer clutter (part 1) by moving cooking utensils to a hanging, rotating storage rack.
- Clear drawer clutter (part 2) by organizing the rest of the utensils that end up in a drawer.
- Clear the countertops (part 1) by moving spice racks to a magnetic spice wall.
- Clear the countertops (part 2) by building a pull down cookbook stand.
- Clear the cabinet clutter where serving trays and cookie sheets are stored by building custom dividers and shelves.
- Make the corner cabinets more useful by building some kind of easy-to-access storage system. This week’s project!
- The bonus project from week 6: 6 Cabinet Door Storage Ideas
Continue reading to find out how to build pull out shelves for a blind corner cabinet.
The Pull Out Drawer Unit Design
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This is the drawer unit in the cabinet. It has wheels so that it can roll in and out…and they support the drawer unit while it is in the cabinet.
If you need to get at the things at the back of this drawer, pull it part way out. It is attached to the side of the cabinet with drawer slides which support it when it is not resting on the base of the cabinet.
If you need to get at the shelves that are in the corner of the cabinet, pull the front drawer unit all the way out, and swivel it to the side. Cabinet hinges installed at the back corner of the drawer unit allow it to turn 90 degrees giving you the room to pull out the shelves in the cabinet.
Since the drawer unit will be held up by hinges when it is pulled out, it needs to be as light as possible but still be sturdy. Because of this I used ½” plywood for the shelves and back, but used ¼” plywood for the sides of the shelves.
Continue reading to see the detailed instructions on how to build the pull out drawer.
What You Need
2″ x 2″ piece of wood
1 set of side mount drawer slides, likely 12″ or 14″ long*. See page 6 for more information on how to determine the length.
Measure Your Cabinet
Here are the measurements you will need to take of your existing cabinet. The letters in the diagram correspond to the measurements below:
A. The first measurement will be the width of the door opening. In my case, this measurement was 13 1/2″.
B. The second measurement will be the height of the door opening. In my case, this was 22″.
C. The third measurement will be the measurement from the front to the back of the cabinet. In my case, this was 22 9/16″.
Determine the Lengths of the Drawer Slides
For this installation, you will need 2 full-extension, heavy duty side mount drawer slides. Since most cabinets are about 24″ deep, these will normally be 12″ or 14″ drawer slides (assuming you have a standard size cabinet).
They need to be installed 6″ from the back of the cabinet so you don’t want them to be the full depth of the cabinet. They also need to extend at least 2″ beyond the edge of the cabinet when they are fully extended. So to figure out the length use the calculation: (C – 6″) ÷ 2 + 2″. In my case, the calculation would be (22 9/16″ – 6″) ÷ 2 + 2″ = 10¼”. It’s okay if the slide is longer than this as long as they don’t go past the edge of the cabinet when they are installed. I went with 14″ slides since that’s the smallest size my local hardware store had in stock.
Cut the Wood
Here are the boards that you will need to cut. I love using my cordless circular saw for doing these types of cuts…no worries about the cord getting in the way!
1. Two pieces of ½” plywood that are 2″ shorter than measurement A (door width), and about 7½” shorter than the C measurement (cabinet depth). These will be shelves for the door pull-out. In my case, the shelves were 11½” x 15″.
2. One piece of ½” plywood that is 2″ shorter than the A (door width) measurement, and about 10″ shorter than the B (door height) measurement for the door opening. This will be the back of the door pull-out. In my case, this was 11½” x 12″.
3. Two pieces of 2″ x 2″ board that are 9½” long. These will be the supports at the front of the pull out.
4. Four pieces of ¼” plywood that are 2″ wide and ½” longer than the length of the shelves in step 1. These will be the sides of the door pull out. In my case, these were 2″ x 15½”.
5. Two pieces of ¼” plywood that are 2″ wide and ½” longer than the width of the shelves in step 1. These will be the fronts of the shelves. In my case these were 2″ x 12″.
6. One piece of ½” plywood that is 5½” wide and 10″ shorter than the B (height) measurement for the door opening. This will be attached to the drawer slides and allow the unit to slide out. In my case, it was 5½” wide x 12″ long.
7. The following two boards are part of the mechanism that will allow the drawer to swivel out. If you are using a 14″ drawer slide, you can use the following measurements:
a. Cut the first piece of ½” plywood to be 4″ wide and the same length as the board in step 6 (12″ in my case).
b. Cut the second piece of ½” plywood to be 4½” wide and the same length as the board in step 6 (12″ in my case).
If you are using a different length of drawer slide, you will need to know the length of the drawer slide extension piece you are using in order to determine the board lengths. In the end, the width of these two boards plus the 5½” width of the board you just cut should equal the length of the drawer slide extension.
a. Remove the drawer slide extension by opening the slide all the way out, then pushing down on the little black lever on the back while you pull on the extension piece. It should slide right off.
b. Measure the length of the extension piece you just removed. For my 14″ drawer slide, it was 13¾”.
c. Subtract the 5½” width of the board you cut in step 6. For my 14″ drawer slide, that leaves 8¼”.
d. Divide that amount by 2. For the 14″ drawer slide, that comes out to 4 1/8″.
e. Subtract 1/8″ from that amount. Cut a piece of ½” plywood to this width, and make the length the same as the board in step 6. In my case, this board was 4″ x 12″.
d. For the second ½” plywood board, the width should be ½” wider than the first piece of board and will be the same length as the board in step 6. In my case this board was 4½” x 12″.
Note: You may want to paint the boards at this point. They are easier to paint before you put the unit together, but if you make any mistakes you may end up painting more later (learned from experience on my part).
Build the Bottom Shelf
1. Attach the back piece to the bottom shelf along the bottom edge using nails or 1″ #6 screws, making sure that all of the edges line up.
2. Turn the shelf on its side and attach the first of the 2″ x 2″ front supports by screwing through the bottom of the shelf with 1″ #6 screws. Make sure it is square on the corner.
Use 2 screws to make sure that it stays in place.
3. Attach the support in the other front corner the same way.
3. Attach the ¼” plywood sides to the front, bottom and back of the shelf using nails or ¾” #6 screws. Make sure that the ¼” plywood is lining up with the bottom of the shelf and is even on both ends.
4. Attach the ¼” plywood front to the shelf using nails or ¾” #6 screws. Make sure that it lines up with the shelf on all edges.
Build the Top Shelf
1. Start the top shelf by attaching one of the sides to the side of the shelf using nails or ¾” #6 screws. One end should be flush with the end of the shelf. The other end will stick out by ½”.
2. Attach the other side in the same way, making sure that it is flush against the shelf on the same end as the first side.
3. Attach the front to the bottom of the shelf. It should go on the end where the sides are flush with the end of the shelf. Make sure that the front lines up on all edges with the shelf and sides.
4. Now you will install the top shelf onto the bottom shelf unit. It is easiest to lie the unit on its side to do this. Make sure that the top of the shelf is lined up with the top of the bottom unit and that the shelf is pushed right up to the back. Then put a screw or nail through the side of the top shelf to attach it to the back board of the bottom shelf.
5. Do the same thing on the other side. The shelf should now stay upright since the front of it will be resting on the top of the supports.
6. Make sure the supports are straight and lined up at the bottom corner of the top shelf. Then put two screws through the top of the shelf to secure the shelf to the supports.
7. Next, put 3 or 4 screws through the back of the unit into the side of the top shelf.
You should now have a 2-shelf unit that is very sturdy.
If you are going to paint your drawer unit, this is a good time to do that. As you’ll see, I waited until after I put the wheels on, and ended up with paint on the wheels 🙂
8. The last step is to turn the cart over and attach the casters to the bottom so that they will roll forwards and backwards in the cabinet.
You should now have a drawer unit that looks something like this.
Install the Cabinet Drawer Slides
This shelf unit will be a little trickier to install since it needs to pull out and then swivel to give you access to get at the pull out shelves.
To accomplish this, we will be installing 2 drawer slides on the same side of the cabinet. Then install the other side of the drawer slides onto a piece of wood that will be attached to your pull out cabinet with a piano hinge. The shelves themselves will not actually be installed on the drawer slide.
1. Remove the door from the cabinet to make it easier to work.
2. To make the drawer slides work for this function, you will need to modify them slightly.
a. Find the piece of metal on the back end of the slide that stops the drawer slide from going backwards.
b. Use pliers to bend this piece of metal so that it is flat with the rest of the slide.
c. You should now be able to pull the slide out in both directions from the base…this is necessary to allow the drawer to close. Just make sure not to pull it too far back or it may come off the rail (we have just removed the thing that prevents this from happening). Don’t worry, when we put the drawer slide into the cabinet, the back of the cabinet will prevent it from going back too far, so this won’t be an issue once it is installed.
3. Remove the drawer slide extension by pulling the drawer slide all the way out. You should see a little lever like this one on the back of the drawer slide. Press up on it and then pull out the end of the drawer slide.
You will end up with two pieces…one side gets installed in the cabinet and the other end gets installed on the drawer.
4. (Optional) If you have face frame cabinets like I do, you will need to install a piece of wood across the side of the cabinet so that it is level with the edge of the door.
5. Measure up about 5″ from the bottom of the cabinet. Make a mark on the side of the cabinet that is closest to the door at this height. I actually installed mine at 5½” so that I could use a 2″ x 6″ for a spacer. That makes sure that the drawer slide is level.
6. Install the first drawer slide along this mark, keeping the following in mind:
a. Make sure the piece of metal that you flattened above is at the back.
b. The back of the drawer slide should be 6″ from the back of the cabinet. You should be able to slide the mid-section of the slide back so that it touches the back wall.
7. Repeat the same steps at about 12″ up from the bottom of the cabinet for the second drawer slide. I re-used the 2″ x 6″ spacer by placing it on top of the lower slide.
Create the Pull Out Mechanism
This is the part that will allow the drawer to pull out and swivel so that you can get at the shelves in the corner. It does this by having one board attached to the drawer slide on the wall, and two other boards attached to that board with hinges. These boards cover the length of the drawer slide when they are open and allow the drawer unit to swivel sideways at the end.
These two boards will be collapsed together when the drawer is closed which minimizes the amount of space they take up and allows the drawer to be pushed back further…which allows you to have a bigger drawer.
Here are the steps to actually make this mechanism.
1. The first step is to attach the drawer slide extensions to the 5½” x 12″ piece of plywood that you cut. When I did this, the holes in the extension were too far apart to fit onto the board, so I ended up drilling a new one. This is one time that I gave in and used a corded drill…it just has more power that a cordless one. I was able to make a hole in each of the extensions in no time (I also used a metal drill bit which helps).
2. Then attach the two drawer slides one above the other on the board, keeping the following in mind:cabinet.
a. The narrow end of the slide should be at the edge of the board
b. To make it easier to install, you’ll want the bottom of the board to line up with the bottom of your drawer insert. To do this, the bottom slide should be attached the same distance up the board as the bottom slide in the cabinet, minus the height of the casters. In my case, this came out to 3 7/8″.
b. The drawer slides should be the same distance apart as the ones that you installed in the cabinet. This meant that the bottom edge of my top slide was 7¼” above the bottom edge of the bottom slide.
3. Test that your drawer slide extensions are spaced correctly by fitting them onto the cabinet side slides. The narrow end of the slide on the board should fit between the rails on the portion that is installed in the cabinet. Push it all the way back onto the slide so that your board reaches the back of the cabinet. You will have to push it hard the first time, but after that it should glide smoothly back and forth. If it doesn’t fit, you will need to adjust the extensions on your board to make sure they are straight and at the correct height.
4. Detach the board from the cabinet slides by pulling it all the way out, pushing up on the little black levers on the back of the slide, and pulling the extension off the end.
5. Flip the board over so that the slides are underneath it.
6. The other 2 boards in the mechanism (they should be the last 2 you have left) will line up over the slide extension. The board with the narrower width (4″ if you are using the 14″ drawer slide) should be in the middle. Make sure that they cover the full length of the drawer extension, otherwise the swivel mechanism won’t work.
7. Attach the the board that has the drawer slide extensions on it to the middle board using one of the 12″ cabinet hinges. Make sure that the boards are pressed tightly together, that the hinge is on straight, and that the bottom of the boards line up.
8. Close the hinge so that the middle board is folded flat against the board with the drawer slides attached to it.
9. Install the second cabinet hinge on the middle board and the end board. Again make sure that the boards are pushed tightly together, that the hinge is on straight and that the bottom of the boards line up.
10. Now you are ready to attach this mechanism to the back of the drawer unit (almost done!!).
a. Lie the drawer unit on its side. Make sure that the side which will be facing the drawer slides in the cabinet is the one that you have on the ground.
b. Lay the extension mechanism boards down on the floor beside drawer unit. Make sure that you have the narrower boards in the mechanism attaching to the drawer unit and that they are lined up with the back side of the drawer (the closed in end).
c. Attach the last of the cabinet hinges between the drawer unit and the extension mechanism. Again try to get the boards as close together as possible and make sure that the bottom of the board lines up with the bottom of the drawer.
Install The Drawer Unit
We’re finally at the last step!
1. Fit the ends of the slide extensions into the drawer slides that are attached to the cabinet.
2. Straighten the drawer out so that it is lined up with door of the cabinet.
3. Push the drawer all the way to the back of the cabinet making sure that the drawer slides are going in straight…your piece of wood that is attached to the drawer slide should touch the back. The first time you do this, you will have to push pretty hard to get them to go all the way in, but after it has been engaged, it should pull in and out smoothly.
4. Check that the wheels are touching the bottom of the cabinet when the drawer is pushed in (this prevents the drawer extensions and hinges from having to support the weight of the drawer most of the time). If they’re not touching the bottom of the cabinet, you will need to re-install the hinge on the back of the drawer unit so that it is a little higher. If you have a hard time getting the drawer into the cabinet because the wheels won’t roll in smoothly, they are probably too low. In this case, you will need to re-install the hinge on the back of the drawer unit so that it is a little lower.
5. Now you can put the door back on your cabinet and the construction is done! Phew!
The Finished Cabinet
Here is the finished pull out drawer. You can get at the things that are on those shelves pretty easily just by reaching in (like you used to).
Or to make it easier to reach the things at the back of the drawer, you can pull the drawer out part way.
Finally if you need to reach anything in the back corner of the cabinet, pull the drawer out all the way and swivel it. Then pull out the shelf inside the cabinet if that’s what you are trying to reach. (The instructions for building the pull-out shelves inside the cabinet can be found here).
And there you have it…a blind corner cabinet that is much more accessible than it used to be!
Have comments or questions about How to Build Pull Out Shelves for a Blind Corner Cabinet? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on March 28, 2016 but was updated with new content on January 8, 2022.