How To Build Under Cabinet Drawers For Increased Kitchen Storage

One of the best ways to get more storage space out of your kitchen is by building under cabinet drawers. Although it seems like a challenging home project, it’s pretty straightforward. You don’t need to pay an expensive cabinet maker or woodworker to build them for you since it’s an excellent project for any DIY enthusiast. Even the most novice DIYer can do it with the proper preparation and knowledge. It's one way of making changes to kitchen cabinets without painting them. Here is a complete guide on how to build under cabinet drawers to gain some valuable kitchen storage space. 

Tools/Materials For The Job:

For this project, you’ll need 1/4-inch plywood sheets for the drawer bottoms, four 1x3 boards for the drawer sides and two 1x4 boards for the drawer supports. While the material you use on the sides and bottom doesn’t matter too much, you’ll want to get the same hardwood material your cabinets use for the drawer face. Wood glue is also needed to hold the drawer pieces together. 

You don't need really need too many power tools for the job, just a saw for cutting. You can use a table saw, or a track saw, circular saw, or miter saw. While table saws, track saws and miter saws are more expensive, they’re also much easier to work with than circular saws. A nail gun or hammer is also needed, but a nail gun will make things much more manageable. You will also need a screw gun.

You need full extension drawer slides. These can measure anywhere from 16”, 18”, or 20” in length. 

Steps To Build Under Cabinet Drawers

Remove Toe Kick Plate

toe kick plate

If you're adding drawers to cabinets that sit near the bottom, the first step is to remove the toe kick plate that sits right below the cabinets. While it might seem a bit daunting at first, it’s actually quite simple. There usually aren’t too many things that hold it to the frame since only a few nails are often used to stick it to the cabinets and sides. Drill a small hole in the middle of it and then cut it open from there. Once it’s cut, you can use a pry bar to break and pop out the two sides. You might also need to remove any nails on the opposite ends. 

Measure The Area

With the toe kick plate taken out, you should now be able to measure accurately. Measure the width and height of the area you’re placing the drawer in but also account for the sliders. This step is essential since you will often run into issues where drawers keep getting stuck if you build them too wide or don’t account for the sliders.

Cut The Pieces

cutting drawer pieces

With measurements in place, it’s time to cut the bottom piece of the drawer. Take your wood sheet that will be used for the bottom of the drawer and use a table saw, or miter saw to cut it. If you need to cut the sides of the board, make sure to do that as well. You can either place it against a table saw or workbench if you have one.

Sand The Pieces

sanding drawer pieces

After you cut them, an essential part of the process is to sand the pieces down with an electric sander. This will help you end up with a pristine and professional-looking finish. 

Glue & Nail The Drawer Pieces Together

diy drawer

With the sides and bottom pieces cut, it’s time to stitch them together to form the drawer. Add glue to the front edge of the bottom panel and then attach the front panel to it.

Once these two pieces are glued together, use a nail gun to nail the front panel to the bottom. Evenly space out three nails. Do the same for the back panel and back edge of the bottom piece.

The process for gluing the sides is the same. You might need more than three depending on the side lengths, but as a rule of thumb, space out the nails every 2-3 inches. At this point, you should now have your wood drawer fully built out. 

Add The Drawer Slides

drawer slides

There is more than one way you can attach slides to the drawer. For this project, we’re going to attach the drawer slides to two drawer supports. The drawer supports will be 1x4s.

To attach the slides, place them firmly against the supports and move the extension until the two screw holes are visible. Then use a drill to push in the screws that come with the slide. 

With the slide attach to one of the supports, place it next to the front of the actual drawer side panel and use the drill to push the screws into the side. Then push the slide so that you can attach it to the back end of the drawer. Repeat these two steps for the other slide set.

Add Drawer  To Cabinet

When you attach the drawer to the cabinet, you directly drill the cabinet to the drawer supports. Drill the screws starting from the cabinet bottom all the way down to the drawer support. Do two screws at the front 1-2 inches from the edge and one at the back 1-2 inches from the back edge. Do the same for the second drawer support on the other end.

Attach The Drawer Face

attach drawer face

With the drawer ready, supports, and slides attached, it’s time to add the drawer face. As mentioned before, this doesn’t have to be the same material used to build the drawer. It can be a different material and should often be one that matches your cabinet’s face for aesthetic purposes. To attach the face to the drawer, use wood glue and also a screw gun to add three screws from the drawer front panel to the drawer face.

This is one step where most people make mistakes. If you’re adding the face to a drawer near the bottom floor, you will want to have a wood spacer on the bottom before you screw it completely in place. This is so the face isn’t too close to the floor, which can cause issues when pulling out the drawer. 

If you’re adding the drawer face to a drawer below cabinet that’s in the air, you don’t need to do the step above.

Optional: Add Trim

This step is optional because if your drawers are close to the bottom floor, side trims won’t be visible. On the other hand, if you’re placing the drawer below a top cabinet, you might want to add 1x4 side trims to cover the supports. This can help the end project finish look better with material that matches your cabinet instead of the material used for building the drawer.

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Andrew Wilson

Andrew Wilson is the founder of Contractor Advisorly. He has over 15+ years of professional experience as a home improvement and home construction contractor. Whether you're looking for DIY advice, tool recommendations or anything home improved-related, he's happy to share his insights.