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How to Build Kitchen Sink Storage Trays

Build these handy undersink roll-out trays in a weekend. You can tackle this project with simple carpentry tools and some careful measuring.

You can make all the trays in an afternoon using building products from your local home center or hardware store for as little as $80.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

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    There is no complicated woodworking skill in this project. If you have basic carpentry skill and tools, you can easily take on this project

Getting the right stuff

Have you finally had it with that dark and dingy, I'm-not-sure-what's-there storage space under the kitchen sink? Well, these two types of roll-out trays, which ride on smooth-action ball-bearing drawer glides, will get everything out in the open and let you find exactly what you need at a glance.

This project isn't difficult. In fact, there aren't even any miter joints. All the parts are glued together and then nailed or screwed. You can make all the trays in an afternoon using building products from your local home center or hardware store for as little as $75. You can build everything with simple carpentry tools and some careful measuring. You don't need a table saw for this project, but it will help you zero in on more exact measurements, especially for the lower tray bases where accuracy is important for the ball-bearing drawer glides. The nail gun shown in the photos is also optional, but it makes assembly a lot faster and less tedious. It shoots thin 18-gauge nails.

In this article, we'll show you how to measure your sink base and custom-size and assemble the wood trays. We'll also give you some tips for installing the drawer glides without a lot of head scratching. You'll probably have to adapt the project dimensions to fit your space. For example, you may have a bulky garbage disposer that won't allow you to install both upper slide-out trays. In that case, just make one tray instead. If you have plumbing that comes up through the floor of your sink cabinet, you may need to shorten the lower trays to fit in front of the plumbing. In any case, add as many part of this project as you can to organize this black hole once and for all.

Before you get the materials, scan this article and see if you can build all the trays or only a few of them. At a home center or lumberyard, look for hardwood plywood. You can often buy 2 x 4-ft. pieces instead of a whole sheet. The hardwood plywood has two good sides and is smoother and flatter than exterior-grade softwood plywood. It costs more too.

In the hardware department, look for ball-bearing side-mount drawer glides. The pairs of the brand we purchased are exactly the same—there's no specific right or left, which makes things easier if you misplace a part. We used 20-in.-long side-mount glides to fit our 20-in.-long trays. This gave us some wiggle room in the back and a bit of extra space to get the pieces into place. If you have plumbing coming up through the bottom of the cabinet, you may need to shorten the trays and buy shorter drawer glides.

Then follow the photos for the step-by-step measuring and assembly instructions. Here are a few specifics to consider:

  • If the opening between the open doors is narrower than the opening between the sides of the frame, use the shorter dimension to make the base.
  • If you have a center stile or partition between the doors, you may need to make two separate bases for each side and a tray for each.
  • Make sure the base and the tray parts are cut square and accurately so the trays slide smoothly.

Measure the cabinet opening to construct the base for the lower pull-out trays

Carefully measure before you start and check for any plumbing obstructions. See the Materials & Cutting Lists in the Additional Information section below.

Mark the base to locate the center and side partitions

Be sure to locate the center partition exactly in the middle of the base; this way you'll be able to make the two trays exactly the same size.

Screw the partitions to the base

Align the side partitions even with the outer edges of the base.

Build the rays

Carefully measure as you build the trays because accuracy is important for the glides to work properly.

Fasten the glides to the partitions and the tray sides

Using a spacer is key to getting the glides positioned accurately.

The release lever disengages the drawer section
from the cabinet section of the glide.

A Word About Drawer Glides

The ball-bearing glides are designed to mount on the sides of the trays (Photos 6 and 7). The glides require exactly 1/2 in. of space between the partition and drawer on each side to work properly, so make the trays exactly 1 in. narrower than the distance between the partitions. If the trays are too wide, they'll bind and be tough to open, in which case, you'll have to take them apart and recut the tray bottom. If the trays are too narrow, the glides will not engage. Fixing this is a bit easier. You can just shim behind the glides with thin washers.

Watch for protruding hinges and other obstructions when you mount the lower or upper trays. You may need to adjust the height or placement of the trays to accommodate them.

Install the base assembly

Align the front of the base with the back edge of the face frame. If you have frameless overlay cabinets, mount it 1/8-in. back from the cabinet front.

Make and install the upper trays

The upper trays are mounted with two glides on one side. Use the jig in Photo 10 to mark the glide locations. Unlike the mounting method for the lower trays, this method aligns the center holes of the glide with the lines traced along the jig.

Seal the trays with polyurethane

You never know what kind of spill or leak will happen under the sink, so it's best to seal the wood. Once you've finished the project, remove the trays and glides, sand them with 150-grit sandpaper and brush on two coats of polyurethane. Let the trays dry thoroughly, then look through all that stuff you had stored under the sink. Toss out old stuff and combine duplicate products—and enjoy your reclaimed and now easily accessible space.

You'll find this one of the most useful projects to
make life in the kitchen easier.

Editor's Note:

After I built this same project at home, friends dropped by, saw it and were inspired to organize their sink cabinet. Because they have small children, I advised them to add childproof latches to secure the strong household cleaners they'll be storing.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Clamps
    • Air compressor
    • Air hose
    • Brad nail gun
    • Cordless drill
    • Tape measure
    • Circular saw
    • Countersink drill bit
    • Combination square
    • Framing square
    • Safety glasses
    • Paintbrush

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

See Materials & Cutting Lists in the Additional Information

Comments from DIY Community Members

Share what's on your mind and see what other DIYers are thinking about.

1 - 20 of 24 comments
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June 12, 5:47 PM [GMT -5]

Looks too clean and perfect.
Where is the garbage/waste disposal? Spray wand hose? Dishwasher supply line? Dishwasher waste line?

Come on.

April 11, 3:48 PM [GMT -5]

I would like to do this project someday. In fact I have saved the project to my account for further use. I did read some interesting comments. Some were what I thought to be negative towards the project. One writer wrote about making it one big tray from left to right. I feel the way it was written was to assist someone who has that divider in the center of their cabinet. Not to mention it could be a far stretch for the tray and its' supports to handle a heavier load. The garbage disposal issue... not really an issue. The article does say about measuring your own cabinet spacing. If you do have a disposal you may have to elimate a shelf or 2. Either way...Adapt this plan to your situation. Quite clever idea. I think a person can make these outside in the shop and install and surprise the their spouse.

January 27, 6:07 PM [GMT -5]

I love this idea of installing my own roll outs!!! Saves so much $$ not to mention backache along with being soooo much better orgainzed....
Everything in my kitchen and bathroom cabinets is at my fingertips now.

I didn't have the skills to build my own but I was able to find some that were READY MADE and INCREDIBLY SIMPLE to install, all by myself....I put in 15 of them! I'm so proud....and it took me less than 1/2 day to do it! They're beautiful too....just like the ones in these photos....
Yes, they did cost me some $, but not nearly as much as you'd think....I searched all over the INTERNET until found just the right ones....They had to be "EASY PULLOUTS" to install, above all!....for ME to be able to "DO IT MYSELF".....I don't like having to pay someone else to do what I can do....DIY is the way to go, when your on a budget....If I couldn't build them myself, at least I could INSTALL the MYSELF.
I would tell you where I got them but not sure that's allowed on this site....??? Sorry...

LOVE LOVE LOVE MY ROLLOUTS!!! These should someday be in everyones cabiinets....IT ONLY MAKES SENSE.....

January 13, 7:28 PM [GMT -5]

This is well and fine IF YOU DON'T HAVE a garbage disposal with all the extras they come with. Not much room then to add storage bins.

October 17, 8:35 PM [GMT -5]

It It would be a lot simpler and less expensive to make one drawer that fits across the bottom rather than two. This would eleminate a pair of slides, the center partition, and the base. Nail the "base" sides directly to the side of the cabinet. But you may want to add several dividers to the drawer to help prevent the contents -- often tall bottles -- from falling around in the drawer as you open and close it.

Larry Dobbins

February 06, 11:02 AM [GMT -5]

where can I get the slides and measurements

January 01, 6:46 AM [GMT -5]

Haven't had time yet but will do it soon.

November 26, 1:52 PM [GMT -5]

What a handsome and inexpensive way to make the area under a sink organized, easy to access and attractive. I plan to pass this info along to clients of mine in NYC. To read see organizing projects on my blog, please visit ace organizing.tumblr.com.

February 02, 6:35 AM [GMT -5]

looks like good storage and a great site on how to do it yourself projects

January 24, 8:13 PM [GMT -5]

Amy Matthews, the host of Sweat Equity. I don't think she looks just like her - I think it IS her. Seems like a good project and I look forward to trying it soon.

December 28, 1:59 AM [GMT -5]

the model making the project looks like the host of SWEAT EQUITY at diynetwork :D

November 03, 12:14 AM [GMT -5]

The directions were easy to follow just remember to measure twice! a couple of considerations: the cabinet hinges in our cabinets were beyond both the 'face' of the cabinet (left to right), and back into the cabinet area as well, so I needed to relocate the base of the bottom drawer more towards the center of the cabinet, rather than flush against the side. Unfortunately I only figured this out after having made all my cuts and assembl,y so was unable to the drawer on a side without requiring both cabinet doors to be open in order to open the drawer (I installed only one side of this project- e.g. one top and one bottom drawer on the left side). In spite of this, the drawers look great and are smooth as silk. Works like a charm.

October 26, 1:05 PM [GMT -5]

Great idea. Looks like these cabinets have frames to me.

October 19, 9:59 AM [GMT -5]

These directions are for European Style frameless cabinets but most cabinets sold in US have frames. Need to update directions for your American audience.

October 19, 9:59 AM [GMT -5]

These directions are for European Style frameless cabinets but most cabinets sold in US have frames. Need to update directions for your American audience.

October 19, 9:59 AM [GMT -5]

These directions are for European Style frameless cabinets but most cabinets sold in US have frames. Need to update directions for your American audience.

October 19, 9:59 AM [GMT -5]

These directions are for European Style frameless cabinets but most cabinets sold in US have frames. Need to update directions for your American audience.

October 19, 9:59 AM [GMT -5]

These directions are for European Style frameless cabinets but most cabinets sold in US have frames. Need to update directions for your American audience.

October 18, 6:11 PM [GMT -5]

1. There are several types of alarms for water leaks.
2. A tray with a hose to the outside if on an outside wall or to a bucket if not.
3. The storage container directly under the drain could be made waterproof, use the container only for things not ruined if water does collect.

May 14, 12:14 AM [GMT -5]

This came at a good time as I was looking to improve the area under our sink.

Thanks

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