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To maximize the organized space in our deep cabinets, I built some easy pull out drawers. I also tried my hand at dovetail joinery using an amazing router jig from Rockler. Come see how you can add pull out trays to any cabinet you have!

  1. Hardwood vs. Plywood?
  2. Decide on Joinery
  3. Assemble the Pull Out Drawers
  4. Install Drawer Slides

1. Hardwood vs. Plywood?

You’ve seen us make a lot of projects out of plywood; it’s easy to get, dimensionally stable, and looks pretty nice. There is no reason you couldn’t make these simple pull out drawers out of plywood. But, for this project, I’m using solid cherry hardwood because I have a lot of it on hand and it look awesome. Using solid wood also saves me the step of applying edge banding to hide the plywood layers. Another benefit of using hardwood to make the simple trays is that I can try my hand at nicer looking/stronger/more complicated joinery methods. In this case, I’m using a router jig that Rockler sent me to add dovetails to the cherry pull out drawers. So I milled up the cherry components and got started.

2. Decide on Joinery

The process of making these pull out drawers is quite straightforward, attach four pieces of wood at their corners and add a bottom panel. As I mentioned earlier, those pieces of wood can be plywood strips and they can be joined together by a number of methods, butt-joints and screws, dowels, our old friend the pocket hole screw, tons of options. But there is one option that I have avoided for a long time: the dovetail joint. Honestly, I don’t understand the hype of hand-cut dovetails for a repetitive task. It seems like torture. But for this project, I wanted to showcase the beautiful cherry hardwood with a nice-looking (and strong) joint without spending a year chiseling wedges.

Enter the Dovetail Jig from Rockler. It uses a router with dovetail-shaped bits and a guide bushing to cut the shapes into the wooden pieces. You clamp the jig onto your bench and using a slotted template, you cut the cherry while it clamped into the jig. Once clamped, you the two joining pieces at the same time. This way the tails and pins are aligned and are the same size. Tweaking the bit depth and the template position will ensure a perfect dovetail each time.

3. Assemble the Pull Out Drawers

Up to this point, we have made the frames for the pull out drawers. Purists among you would wonder why I did not mill and glue up larger panels for the bottoms. Well, that’s simple…I used plywood. My patience for fine woodworking only goes so far right now. And to add to it, I used pocket hole screws. Haha. Yes, I loved the dovetail jig and the half-blind joints it produced, but I am a utilitarian at heart and using cherry plywood, glue, and pocket screws for the bottoms would be perfectly acceptable. Now that I added the bottom panels to all of the pull out trays, I had to install them in the cabinet.

4. Install Drawer Slides

While making the pull out drawers was relatively easy, spacing and installing them is another topic. To determine the vertical spacing, there are a few things to consider: what do you plan on storing in them, do you want to store anything under them, how dense do you want the cabinet to be? For us, we decided that we wanted to store snacks and canned goods in this cabinet, so there didn’t need to be excessive headspace between the drawers. Next we wanted to store our griddle and longer items in the space under the drawers. With this important information, I spaced the three sets of drawers in the cabinet evenly using some scrap pieces of plywood cut to size. This way, both sets of drawer slides would be evenly spaced from the bottom of the cabinet.

DIY Cabinet Pull Out Drawers

I am super happy with this simple DIY kitchen project. This project stretched my woodworking skills by milling the rough lumber, adding dovetail joints to the trays, and installing the drawer slide so the joints can be highlighted. I think they look amazing and it really helps organize the cabinet space a lot. This project would be perfect for those deep, awkward cabinets where stuff gets ignored in the back and you’re looking for a solution. I hop you give it a try yourself.