Lower cabinets offer the biggest storage spaces in most kitchens. But according to kitchen designers, the back half of this space is usually wasted—it's packed with long-forgotten junk or left unused because stored items are out of view and hard to reach. Rollout bins let you see and use the whole space.
If you're tired of digging through cans and boxes to find a jar of tomato sauce hidden at the back of the cabinet, these rollout bins might be just the ticket. You can size them to fit inside any lower cabinet and customize them to suit the items you want to store.
This article will show you how to build them. The bins are simply plywood boxes with adjustable shelves—very easy to build. Sizing the boxes and mounting them on drawer slides can be tricky, but we've worked out techniques that make those steps nearly foolproof.
All the materials for these three rollouts were less than half the cost of three manufactured rollouts—a healthy savings.
You don't need advanced cabinet building skills or tools to make your own rollouts—the joinery and assembly are simple. But a table saw is almost mandatory for fast, accurate, good-looking results. And we recommend a pneumatic brad nailer, although you can certainly hand-nail or screw the parts together. Ordinarily, the side-mount drawer slides are tricky to install, but we make even that step foolproof, so don't let that part intimidate you. You'll be surprised how fast you can build yourself a few rollouts. Put in a full day and you'll be loading them with groceries that evening.
Everything you need for this project is available at home centers. You'll have to guess at the quantity of rollouts at this point so you can buy the proper number of drawer slides. One sheet of plywood will provide enough material for at least four rollouts. You can roughly figure one rollout for every foot of open base cabinet space you have. You can always return any uncut lumber or hardware you don't use.
To determine the width of your rollouts, gather the items you want to store. Cut the 1x3 cleats to length and space them from each side of the cabinet with 3/4-in. blocks (Photo 1). That space allows the rollouts to clear the doors and hinges later. Then start arranging your dry goods, separating them with the cleats. Leave at least 2-1/2 in. between the dry goods and the cleats. This allows for the clearance of wood thicknesses and drawer slides and 1/2 in. extra to make it easy to load the items and take them out. It takes a bit of rearranging and thought to arrive at the best sizes. If your base cabinets have vertical dividers between the doors, give each opening its own rollouts.
You'll probably have some rollouts facing one way and some the other. That's because rollout access may be blocked by neighboring cabinets at inside corners or because some cabinet doors don't swing all the way open. Determine the access direction while you assemble your rollouts. That's as simple as drilling the finger pull hole at the proper end. After the boxes are assembled, they'll work for either orientation.
Choose any 3/4-in. veneered interior plywood for your rollouts. Avoid construction plywood; it won't be as flat and may warp later. If you'd like your rollouts to match your cabinets, choose whatever type does the job. We just sanded the plywood end grain of our rollouts, but if you'd like a more polished look, buy iron-on edge banding to match the wood type.
Buy nice, straight, knot-free 1x3s for the cleats—the wood type doesn't matter. Select 22-in. European side-mount drawer slides rated to support 90 lbs. They'll come with their own screws and installation directions that show you how they work.
Figure A: Typical rollout. Decide on the width you want your rollout to be (“X”), then plug that number into the measurements shown here.
Figure B: Typical rollout grouping. You can use different rollout combinations, depending on the size of the cabinet.
Most base cabinets are 22-1/2 in. deep and have a 21-in.-high opening (measured inside the face frame, not the cabinet interior). If your cabinets match these measurements, use the height and width dimensions shown in Figure A for all of the side panels. Also use Figure A for the lengths of each top, bottom, front and back panel and shelves. If your cabinets have shorter openings or are shallower, subtract those differences from our Figure A measurements to cut your parts. Calculate the rollout widths based on your layout work inside the cabinet (Photo 1). Subtract 1 in. from the distances between the cleats to get the width for each rollout's top, front and back panel. That'll leave the 1-in. clearance needed for the drawer slides. Subtract 2 in. to establish the width for each bottom panel and the adjustable shelves. That'll leave an additional 1-in. clearance for the thickness of the 3/4-in. side panel and the 1/4-in.-thick lip in the front.
Be especially careful when you lay out the cleats, measure openings and cut the rollout parts. European side-mount drawer slides leave very little room for error. It's best to use a table saw for all of the cuts and to double-check widths and lengths so the boxes will fit together perfectly and engage and operate smoothly in the slides.
Glue and nail the lip on each bottom panel (and shelves) before assembling the rollouts. A thin bead of wood glue on each edge is all you need. Then hold the edges of each panel flush while you pin them together with 1-1/2-in. brads spaced about every 4 in. (Photo 2). Next, drill the 1-1/4-in.-diameter finger pull hole. A Forstner bit will make the neatest hole, but a sharp spade bit will work, provided you use a block on the back side to prevent splintering (Photo 3). The hole defines each rollout's open side.
Cut the 24-in.-long shelf standards down to 18 in. with a hacksaw. Look at the embossed shelf numbers to determine which end is the top and cut from that end. Nail the standards in place with the brads provided (Photo 4).
This is the best time to apply the finish of your choice to the rollouts. Lightly sand everything with 220-grit sandpaper and add the finish. We chose two coats of water-based polyurethane to protect the wood against dirty fingers and marks from cans.
Rip the 1x3s down to 2 in. and then screw on the drawer slides (Photo 5). It's easiest to remove the drawer part of the slide to access the anchor holes. Hold the slides flush with the top and front of each cleat while you punch little starter holes with a scratch awl, and then send in the screws. Just do one screw at a time so you can adjust the placement as you add screws. You'll need right and left sides for the end cleats. Then replace the drawer side slides and lay the cleats in the cabinet.
Begin with one of the end cleats and press it against the temporary 3/4-in. blocks while you drill three 1/8-in. pilot holes. A combination drill/countersink bit works great for this. Then screw the cleat to the cabinet floor with 3-in. screws (Photo 6). Space the next cleat with a leftover scrap from the first rollout top, front or back. That way the spacing between the drawer slides will be perfectly sized for smoothly operating rollouts. Hold the spacer up from the cabinet floor with 3/4-in. blocks so it'll be centered on the drawer slides. Hold the cleat snug, but not tight, against the spacer while you drill and then screw it to the cabinet floor. Repeat that step with the rest of the cleats. Skip the 3/4-in. blocks on the last cleat and just use the rollout spacer. Screw a 1x3 “hold-down” rail to the back side of the cabinet (Photo 7). It'll help hold the rollout cleats in place when you pull out heavily loaded rollouts.
Finally, disengage the drawer side slides and screw them to the bottom of each rollout flush with the bottom and front (Photo 8). Finish up by inserting each rollout, then load them up!