Introduction: Empty Space Next to the Fridge? Make a Roll-Out Pantry

Picture of Empty Space Next to the Fridge?  Make a Roll-Out Pantry

With some web-spiration, a 3D-Printer on hand and some empty space next to the fridge, I decided to make a roll out pantry.

3D-Printer + filament

Supplies (as seen):
(2) 2x6x8 construction lumber
(1) 3/16x4x8 plywood
(1) 3/4x4x4 plywood (scrap used)
(4) Casters
(8) Dowel rods (as shelf holders and railings)
(3) 1/4"x6 Quarter round molding
(14) #6 3/4" Flathead Screws (for dowel railing holders)
(2) #6 32x3 Machine Screws with nut (for handle)
(38) 1" Wood screws (for casters and scrap pieces to hold backing)
(6) Scrap pieces of wood (can use leftovers from the 2x6x8 pieces)
(48) Finishing nails (guess, not sure how many used)
(2) Quarts of paint

Hand Saw
Measuring Tape
Straight Edge (square)
Painters Tape
Kreg R3 Jr. Kit
Dowel Rod Jig Kit
Wood Glue
Hacksaw Blade (off the hacksaw)

Step 1: Measure Out Your Space

First you'll need to measure out your space, as everyone's may be a little different.  I didn't want my pantry being taller than the fridge and I wanted the pantry to be flush with the fixed wall on the side, so take that into account as well. 

In my case I had 6 1/2" x 29" to play with so I purchased two pieces of 2x6x8 construction lumber (as the measured size is 1 1/2" x 5 1/2") and cut them into (2) 26" boards and (2) 66" boards.  My fridge is about 5" taller than 5' (66") but that gives me room for my casters.

Step 2: Cut Your Pantry Frame

Picture of Cut Your Pantry Frame

I measure the distance from my hand saw blade to the edge of the base assembly.  This will be your cut distance.  Then I measure my actual size + my cut distance and set up a square and clamp it down for a straight cut.

Step 3: We're Starting by Making a Box

Picture of We're Starting by Making a Box

Now that we have our boards cut we need to make a box.  I used pocket screws for a cleaner look.  I use a Kreg R3 Jr. to make the holes, and just guesstimate where they'll be placed.  Make sure to get the right size on the Kreg for your lumber thickness and use a clamp to hold it steady.

(3) holes on the same face of the smaller two 26" pieces will be used so that the outside 66" board will be clean of screws once the box is made.

If using regular screws (which I do) use the longest extensions for you drill so that there won't be damage to the wood and the screws get to where they need to be.

Tip: When I don't have a spare set of hands, I use scrap wood clamped on the sides of a vertical piece and then clamp that piece to the wood at a right angle.  It's not completely secure but it's enough to get the job done.

Step 4: Pantry Backing

Picture of Pantry Backing

I used some 3/16" plywood for my pantry backing.  Some scrap wood to hold it in place and some 1/4" quarter round molding to finish the edges.  Using the same principle of hand saw cutting, I laid out some guides for my plywood and cut away.

Tip: to reduce tearing on the back side of the wood when cutting I like putting down some painters tape to keep everything together.  

As I'm using all the space possible next to the fridge, I inlaid the scrap wood, inside the pantry, so that the 3/16" plywood would be flush with the back.  The pantry was then flipped over and the plywood hammered into the scrap wood with finishing nails.  

I then measured the edges of the pantry for the quarter round, cut the pieces needed and that was hammered into place as well.  Now's a good time to put in your Kreg's pocket hole covers in, if you haven't done so.  A dab of wood glue and they fit right into place.

Step 5: Shelving

Picture of Shelving

Measure out how tall you want your shelves to be (measure some items you'd like to place in your pantry).   I came up with a total of about 6 shelves with the below heights.  

Note: The distance for all shelves + (number of shelves X thickness of your wood) should fit inside your pantry.

So 6 shelves with the following final heights:

(1) 13" shelf - cereals and bigger boxes
(2) 9" shelves - smaller items
(3) 7" shelves - cans

13" + 18" + 21" = 52" + (6 x 3/4") = 56 1/2" total, which gives me some wiggle room and a small shelf space left as the total inside size of my pantry is 63".

Now we'll need to do some cutting.  I cut mine out of some scrap 3/4" construction plywood I had on hand.  Since I kept the 26" boards on the inside of my pantry box, I can easily make shelves this length.  I wanted them inset a bit so I cut them to 5" widths which comes to a total of 6 boards at 5" x 26".

Once you have the shelves cut, you'll need to cut some grooves out for the 1/4" quarter round molding to fit.  The way I did it was to line all the shelves up, mark my wood at 1/4" from the edge and move my saw blade to 1/4" deep.  Made a few passes with the hand saw, broke the edges and used a chisel where needed.

A quick test fit with all my shelf heights (to make sure I didn't mess anything up) and then some sanding as you don't want sharp edges.

Step 6: Doweling

Picture of Doweling

I'm sure there are better ways of doing this, as I messed up quite a bit, but here's what I went through.  I had a small dowel jig that I had never used, so I thought I would give it a try.  I stuck to one side of the pantry and measured out my shelf sizes while working my way up from the bottom.  Put in dowels on that one side, then placed a shelf with a level to guide me to where the other side was supposed to be at.  Worked out well once I got the hang of it.

There will be mistakes, but they're easily fixed with some glue, a hacksaw blade and some sandpaper.  I would sand down the end of the dowel a bit to make sure it would take the glue, place the dowel, then use the hacksaw and a wet towel to clean things up.  Sand as necessary afterwards and everything would be flush.

Once all the holes are in place you're gonna need to cut all your dowel rods.  I cut my dowels at 1 1/2" as the jig I had cut 3/4" into the pantry.
Now is a good time to put the casters on and make sure everything fits in the space you have.

Note:  The way I put my casters on the pantry made sense in my head but wasn't practical as the pantry, once loaded, became top heavy.  I went back and widened the casters to fix the problem.

I went ahead and used this time to cut 7 dowel rods out for the pantry railings at roughly 26" as well.

Step 7: Hardware or Is It Software?

Picture of Hardware or Is It Software?
Now comes the fun (optional) part as you can probably find items at your local hardware store which can accomplish the same task as below.

Using SketchUp I went ahead and designed a handle for the pantry and some dowel rod holders.  Video below.

Here's the process I use.  Once designed in SketchUp I export the model as an .stl (J. Foltz SketchUp extension), run it through NetFabb sudio (or the online version) to fix the file for printing and then port that to my 3D - Printer.

Print away!


Step 8: Paint!

Picture of Paint!

Pick your colors and have at it.  At the expert advice of my fiancee, I painted the handle, dowel rod holders and dowels alternating colors from the pantry to make things fun.

Step 9: Some Assembly Required

Picture of Some Assembly Required

Put everything together and make sure you make good use of your new space.

The handle was fairly easy as I knew the distance to center for the screws. If you purchase one from a hardware store, just mark those points on your pantry, make sure they're not going to hit a shelf on the inside and use a drill bit that's about the same size as your screws.

The dowel rod holders were put in by measuring up from the level shelves the same distance on both sides of the pantry, this gave me a good level rail to keep things in place. Some of the dowel railing needed some trimming, as they were too long to fit, but after some touch up paint I put them in place.

Web-spiration from :


KenK75 (author)2016-12-13

Tempted to try ball bearing casters... And putting the shelves in with biscuits to give the structure some extra stability.

kathym163 (author)2016-07-23

How far apart did u put your caster ...having issues with our fall over ?

Gregwj (author)2015-11-12

If the side of your fridge seems warm, then the airflow is probably necessary. If you are concerned about the airflow, then you may want to try incorporating pegboard for the backing.

c dunc (author)2015-06-27

Cool idea! like the old Camero too!

Nazih (author)2013-07-13

Great idea, but what about the heat generated from the back side of the fridge, it would not damage the food? I am sure it works great in other areas. Nice work.

ratmax00 (author)Nazih2013-07-14

Hi Nazih, thanks for the comment, several people have asked me the same question. I haven't experienced any issues but I think the heat generation really depends on the fridge. I purchased a new Samsung fridge to replace a 10+ year old fridge that had metal coils in the back. I know for a fact that my old fridge gave off quite a bit of heat as you could feel it when you walked by. I've checked the bottom and sides of the pantry at different times of the day, for the month or so it's been installed, so if there is heat generated in the back of this new fridge, it's so small it's un-noticeable. Everything seems to stay at a constant temperature, but I'll verify that with a thermometer just to make sure and follow up with an update. I did go through the owners manual and all it states about air circulation is having 2 inches of space from the top, back and sides. Nothing is mentioned about heat generation, but I'm sure if you didn't have at least that much space some heat may be transferred. I'm not saying this would be the same for everyone, you'll just have to take note.

csirna (author)ratmax002015-04-20

Actually the danger is not for the food, but for the fridge itself: it could get damaged or it could not work at all if it is not given enough air circulation to dissipate the heat it "sucks" (literally! It works using the "heat pump" principle) from the things being refrigerated. Surely a fridge with limited air circulation consumes more electricity.One should ALWAYS have a look at the installation guidelines of the fridge manual to be sure.
Mine for example clearly says that it should be installed leaving a clearance of 5 cm (2 inches, roughly) from furniture on the sides and of 10 cm from the one placed above the fridge.
In your case there still is a lot of free space around the fridge, but it could be an issue for someone else. I think you should write a disclaimer in the tutorial about these potential problems: there is a lot of people who is totally clueless about how a fridge does its job that could be tempted to build a roll out for each side and also a cabinet above the fridge.

Buggerlugz (author)ratmax002015-02-24

There is no heat from the side of the fridge the heat will come from the back of the fridge and heat rises so no problem with it going round the side of the fridge.Nice job i,m measuring up now

spaula (author)2014-05-10

eu estou fazendo 1 igual sososo

rigs297 (author)2013-08-28

Looks great! How do you keep if from scratching up your wall and fridge?

Veroniiiqaa (author)2013-06-29

absolutely brilliant creation!! ive got very limited storage space in my kitchen and now know how to make use of that so far useless space between my fridhe/freezer and the wall! thank you!

ratmax00 (author)Veroniiiqaa2013-07-02

Thanks Veroniiiqaa, hope it serves you well.

brendrag (author)2013-06-14

Great job. I'll definitely be making mine soon just to hold the brooms and mops hiding in there. One question though. How balanced is the shelf? Do the casters make it stable enough not to fall over? I might incorporate something like drawer slides or something to hold it to the wall and make it alot sturdier.

ratmax00 (author)brendrag2013-06-16

Thanks brendrag! Empty, the shelf is very well balanced and stands on its own. As it sits now, the shelf is still fairly well balanced, but I'm sure adding additional items may make it want to tip over. I debated placing a rail of some kind on the side wall and may still eventually set something up made of wood, as drawer slides (greater than 24" of travel) were none too cheap. My thought was a single scrap piece of wood attached to the wall could act as a guide, and two pieces holding a dowel which would be threaded through that sidewall scrap, could rest along the top of the pantry. This would not only act as a guide to keep the pantry upright, but also act as a stopper to prevent it from being pulled out all the way.

My current set-up has two pieces of scrap wood, one on the top of the pantry and another against the wall, to act as a stopper, as I was worried I was going to pull the pantry out all the way and have a messy cleanup.

wastubbs (author)2013-06-14

Knowing you made those notches with a circ saw gives me the heebie jeebies! I know we can't all afford table saws (myself included) but that looks a bit risky.

ratmax00 (author)wastubbs2013-06-14

How so wastubbs? If you think about it, not paying attention or doing things too quickly can make any activity with power tools "risky". Granted I wasn't looking for an exact cut (which a table saw would have provided), I've used these type of notch cuts for years without issue. So making these cuts with a circular saw is just as safe as using any other power tool.

wastubbs (author)2013-06-14

Another thing viewers at home should keep in mind when doing long cuts of plywood or other laminate with a circular saw, you can reduce tear-out first and foremost by using the proper saw blade.

Circular saws are commonly sold with either a framing or "ripping" blade with large, aggressive teeth. You can also get finishing or "crosscut" blade with much smaller teeth. I learned this the hard way when cutting up some expensive oak plywood only to have it tear out the whole length on my cross cuts. Gross.

ratmax00 (author)wastubbs2013-06-14

Thanks wastubbs, that's a good tip. Generally speaking a blade in the 60 to 80-tooth range is great for cutting veneer plywood, laminates and other fragile woods. You also have to think about how old your blade is when having tear-out issues, as it will get worse with a dirty or dull blade. FYI, the dirty will come way before the dull. A good idea is to clean your blade if you start seeing tear-out before purchasing a new one.

michaelnelson (author)2013-06-13

Great work, awesome idea. A cheap IKEA bookshelf would be a great head start for this project...

ratmax00 (author)michaelnelson2013-06-13

Thanks michaelnelson, I didn't think about that, that would be a quick and clean substitute.

neo71665 (author)2013-06-12

Nice looking 68? Is it a clone or real super sport?

ratmax00 (author)neo716652013-06-12

It's an original SS, as far as I know. I haven't checked for matching numbers yet, but once I overhaul the engine that will be on the to-do list. Good eye, didn't think anyone would be able to guess the year.

neo71665 (author)ratmax002013-06-12

I'm a nova guy, gotta know other models I can steal parts from.

ratmax00 (author)neo716652013-06-13

Nice! My brothers like the nova body style, they have a 72 olds omega they're fixing up.

MaskMarvl (author)2013-06-12

Awesome! I want to make one! :D

ratmax00 (author)MaskMarvl2013-06-13

Thanks, MaskMarvl.

WUVIE (author)2013-06-12

Very, very cool. Can I borrow you for a few weeks? :-)

ratmax00 (author)WUVIE2013-06-13

Thanks Wuvie, there's already a line, my brothers want one built for each of them.

MikeCicc (author)2013-06-12

Really want to make one of these! My fear is that on my Brooklyn apartment the lower shelves might get some new tenants:) I'll have to remember to keep the cans and bottles down there!

ratmax00 (author)MikeCicc2013-06-13

Hah, I can't help you there, I hear they're very brazen. They may want to collect construction fee's if you do something so close to their home.

origami99 (author)2013-06-12


ratmax00 (author)origami992013-06-13

Thanks origami99.

bigidea13 (author)2013-06-12

Very nice. Inspires me to do the same thing. I'm also thinking maybe using the same concept for a spice rack. Maybe a box of four pull out shelves? Hmm... Maybe

ratmax00 (author)bigidea132013-06-12

Thanks bigidea13, a friend of mine took one look at the pantry and said I should have inset the top half of the front pantry (above the handle) a bit and built a small spice rack there. This way I wouldn't have to open the pantry each time I needed something. Something else to think about.

KlockworkKevin (author)2013-06-12

Amazing use of space! much better than the one broom i have shoved there in my apartment!

ratmax00 (author)KlockworkKevin2013-06-12

Thanks KlockworkKevin, I had you beat with a folding step ladder and a broom! Now, where did I put that broom?

Aj392 (author)2013-06-12

Just awesome, very nice work, resourceful and innovative :)

ratmax00 (author)Aj3922013-06-12

Thanks AJ392.

Solomonsk5 (author)2013-06-12

I love the idea, but don't fridges need that space to disperse the heat? Or is that only the back of the fridge that needs clearance?

ratmax00 (author)Solomonsk52013-06-12

It's a good idea to have both the back and sides with some clearance but you shouldn't need more than a few inches (if that). Given that the pantry has about 1/2" clearance on each side and there is another inch clearance next to my cabinets on the left side of the fridge I should be good. This would probably become an issue if you created a fixed shelf right next to the fridge that didn't allow airflow.

ratmax00 (author)2013-06-12

Thanks Gixxer85!

DemolisionWolf (author)2013-06-12

Nicely done. Very original and functional!

ratmax00 (author)DemolisionWolf2013-06-12

Thanks DemolisionWolf.

redfoxtrystman (author)2013-06-12

Great idea and also love the classic sitting there. Does it have stripes on it like bumble bee? Lol

ratmax00 (author)redfoxtrystman2013-06-12

Thanks redfoxtrystman, it does have racing stripes like bumble bee, black stripes along the hood and trunk.

Mindmapper1 (author)2013-06-12

I am pleased to see someone else using pocket screw construction. Personally I would have made the outter carcase with the side pieces on top of the bottom piece simply to spread the weight into the bottom rather than resting the weight on the screws and glue, but I can see why you did this to hide the end grain from view and make the shelf construction easier. Never the less this has given me an idea for a silly space left in my newly fitted kitchen next to the fridge freezer!

ratmax00 (author)Mindmapper12013-06-12

Glad to hear I've given you some ideas Mindmapper1. I actually flipped a coin to see if the end grain should show or not as I was torn. Flat side out won.

lindarose92 (author)2013-06-12

This is ingenious! Now I wish I could make it too...maybe someday!! :)
Great job!

ratmax00 (author)lindarose922013-06-12

Thanks lindarose92, it's a lot easier than it seems. I did it the hard way in some parts but I hope you can get some ideas and put your own mix on it.

spyder2021 (author)2013-06-12

really like that idea. great way to use unused space.

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