How to Install Sliding Shelves


Sliding shelves are extremely useful, particularly when placed in cabinets used to store large amounts of items, such as kitchen cabinets, craft cabinets or any other kind of storage cabinet. Once installed, the shelves simply slide out, allowing for a complete view of everything inside. Installation is relatively simple, although the shelves must fit the specific cabinet size. Building the custom shelf requires you to measure, cut, glue and drill wood, building it to size. Once the shelf is built, the installation will not take long.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 drawer slides
  • Tape measure
  • 3/4-inch birch plywood
  • Miter saw
  • Wood glue
  • 4 1x3's
  • Circular saw
  • Clamp
  • Drill
  • Combination countersink bit
  • 15/8-inch drywall screws
  • 1/2-inch spade bit
  • 1/2-inch wood buttons
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Clean rags
  • Safety glasses
  • Dual-cartridge respirator
  • Spray lacquer
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • Masonite or cardboard
  • 1-1/4-inch screws

Build the Shelf

  • Open the cabinet door. Extend the inner rail on the drawer slide. Position the drawer slide in the cabinet, as close to the door hinge as possible without touching it.

  • Measure the space between the cabinet side and the back of the drawer slide with a tape measure to determine cleat size.

  • Cut two 2-inch-high cleats from a piece of plywood using a miter saw. Make them the same length as the drawer slides. If needed, build up the thickness with extra wood, gluing the pieces together with wood glue until it fits the size you measured.

  • Put the two cleats on either side of the cabinet. Measure the distance between them. Subtract 1 inch for the thickness of the drawer slides. This number will be the width of the shelf, including the frame. The front-to-back length of the shelf will be the same length of the slides. Remove the cleats and set them aside.

  • Subtract 1-1/2 inches from the shelf's width and depth. This number provides the dimensions of the shelf bottom.

  • Use a circular saw to cut the bottom from 3/4-inch birch plywood.

  • Cut four 1x3's for the shelf frame with a miter saw. Make the pieces the same length as the bottom, front to back. Cut the front and back pieces 1-1/2 inches longer so they cover the side pieces.

  • Use a clamp to hold the side pieces and back piece to the shelf bottom. Make certain the bottom edges of the side pieces and the shelf bottom are flush.

  • Drill pilot holes for the screws through the 1x3's and into the drawer bottom using a combination countersink bit. Make the holes every 8 to 10 inches.

  • Drill two holes through each end of the back piece where it overlaps the side pieces.

  • Remove the clamp and fasten the side pieces to the shelf bottom using wood glue. Secure them with 15/8-inch drywall screws. Glue down the back piece and screw it into the bottom and sides.

  • Drill 1/4-inch-deep holes along the shelf bottom and ends of the front piece with a ½-inch spade bit. Do this in the same manner as you did for the back piece.

  • Use a clamp to hold the front piece to shelf. Drill pilot holes through the prepared holes and into the shelf bottom and sides using the combination countersink bit.

  • Remove the clamp and glue the front piece in place. Secure it with 15/8-inch drywall screws. Glue 1/2-inch wood buttons into the holes to conceal them.

  • Sand the shelf down with 120-grit sandpaper until it is smooth and wipe it down with a clean rag.

  • Put on safety glasses and a dual-cartridge respirator and spray a thin coat of lacquer to the shelf. Allow the lacquer to dry. Sand the shelf with 180-grit sandpaper and wipe it down with a clean rag. Apply a second coat of lacquer. Wipe off any drips with a clean cloth.

Install the Sliding Shelf

  • Remove the sliding-drawer-rail section from each drawer slide. Cut two 1/8-inch-thick Masonite or cardboard shims. Put the pieces on the shelf floor to raise the cleats and slides, keeping the shelf from scraping on the bottom.

  • Hold one of the prepared cleats on top of the shims and against the cabinet side. Secure it to the cabinet with 1-1/4-inch screws.

  • Put the drawer slide on top of the shims and against the cleat. Secure it with the screws. Secure the second cleat on the opposite side of the cabinet and install the second drawer slide.

  • Set one of the sliding-rail sections against the side of the shelf, aligning the end so that it's flush with the front of the shelf and slightly up from the bottom. Attach the rail to the shelf with the screws. Install the second rail on the opposite side of the shelf.

  • Remove the shims. Clean out the inside of the cabinet with a clean, damp rag and push the drawer slides closed. Hold the shelf up level with the drawer slides and align the sliding-rail sections on the shelf with the drawer slides. Push the shelf into the cabinet, making sure the sliding rails have locked onto the drawer slides.

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