Saturday, September 22, 2012

Murphy's Law out to Get Me! Pull-Out Shelves

     After re-modeling the kitchen we're really happy with it but I decided that to bring it to the next level we really needed to add some pull-out shelves, especially under the stove top.  Maybe it's the knee surgeries catching up with me but I'm tired of kneeling down there to find the right lid for the pan I need.

Loaded and Ready

     I've never been accused of taking the easy way to complete a project and these were no exception.  Rather than use a common 3/4 extension, bottom mount slide I decided that 100 lb., full extension slides would be the best.  The sides of the pull-outs are made of European Steamed Birch with a MDF bottom fully supported in a dado.  The shelf is laminated with Formica left over from Diane's studio remodel.
     As I was planning out the work that Murphy and his law just kept trying to trip me up!  First off, I knew that I wanted the bottom to be housed in a full dado for strength.  Rather than make stopped dados that wouldn't show in the front and rear I used this joint:

Locking Joint to Hide Side Endgrain

     Since the tongue on the front piece is locked into the side there is little chance of separation.  No matter how carefully you set up your machines when you're making a matched joint like this there is always a bit of final fitting that's needed.  Ten to twelve passes with a hand plane brought it to the required size.

Front & Back Piece Fitted

     Now that the framework was complete the bottom pieces were fitted and laminated.  I really dislike the mess of laminate work as you trim it to fit so decided to try this method to contain some of the mess.

A Cleaner Way to Trim Formica

     Rather than using a hand held router I thought I'd try putting the router into the table.  I had made this fence that fits onto the rip fence.  It's hollow and you can see the shop vac hose attached to the end at the right, bottom corner of the picture.  Happy to say this worked just great.
     To attach the runners to the cabinet I made a U-shaped channel that was attached behind the center stile.  Then separate ones were made for the sides.  My plan was to first attach the piece in the center, fit the pull-out to it and the corresponding side piece and then screw it all down.  Except for the Murphy's Law incidents it did work.  First up was to attach the slides to the correct parts.  Before I got too far on that I realized it would be pretty tight working up against the side of the cabinet so allowed just enough room for the drill chuck to clear.  I find that if you're doing more than one of a process it's worth the effort to make a quick jig so that every piece is located in exactly the same place.  One was made for the support side of the slides and another for locating the slide on the pull-out.

Attaching Slides to Pull Out

     I thought I was pretty clever making sure to mark the front of the pieces but somehow or another, Murphy's Law found me putting in one upside down and backswords!  Fixed that and started to install them.

Center U-Shaped Piece Installed

     That went as planned.  You can imagine what a hassle it can be working inside of a 24" cabinet with limited head room above and leg room outside of it.  Well, Murphy had to rear his ugly little head one more time!  The side pieces are 22" long and the slides are 20" long.  In the side piece I drilled three holes to attach them to the cabinet bottom.  What are the chances of one of those holes being in the exact location for a screw hole I used to attach the drawer slide?  Yeah, that's what I'd say too "slim to none".  Wrong!!, as I pre-drilled the front hole I noticed a little bit of resistance but was able to get past it.  Then, as the screw went in it stopped about two thirds of the way into the hole -- yep, the screw used to attach the slide was right in that hole.  This meant taking them back to the shop, pre-drilling another hole, taking out the offending screw and then putting it in its' new location. Not a real big deal but after the other little episodes I'm really glad it was in the first hole I used.  Anyway, here it is and you can see it's a good installation.  It's finished with a couple of coats of wipe on poly and wax. My wife thanks me and my knees and back will be forever grateful!

Nice, Even If I Do Say So Myself!


  1. Great job on your pull out shelves they look great and the full extension slides are the only way to go. We went the easy way and purchase ours

  2. Sometimes I wish I could do the easy way out but seem too driven! Thanks for the compliments though, they really function well.

  3. Interesting Anonymous, I decided to check out the website you gave and put the numbers in for the size I used. Came out to be $45.90 each when I upgraded their basic to match mine. Differences are I used solid, 5/8" thick Beech, 1/2" MDF bottoms with Formica rather than the melamine they used. What would I do anyway if I didn't have something going on in the shop -- I really don't relax well!