Introduction: Staircase Drawers !

About: I am a maker and here I am sharing the fun stuff of making and creating! Apart from fun my goal is to share knowledge and acquire it. My topics are woodworking, metalworking, maybe some composites, electronic…

Before we hit off, I want to say this project was really Really cool to do and I am happy how it went. This project was not easy but patience goes a long way!

I hope you can enjoy this!

If you are interested, I have plans available from my webshop (read Etsy). You can find it via:

Step 1: Design

So this actually is a comissioned piece of furnitture by a customer. He set an interesting goal for this project although at first it did not seem this way.

This kind of storage is hip and happening with tiny living and efficient storage. But I think this will be more and more executed because it does add value to a small space. More and more of us live in cities and have less space on average.

The drawers could only be effectively installed from the front of the staircase. On top af that two drawers had an compound or angled frontface. This made measuring challenging. the trick here was measure the strairtreds carfefully and check the angles of the faces. You had to be careful with measuring because you could make a 'stackable measuring error'. you make one measuring and followup another measurement without any good reference. Making it possible to have two errors in one measuring.

Step 2: Draft

Normally I wouldn't emphasize on making drafts for projects on Intructables but this was essential for this project. Because of the angled front sides and and limited drawer height.

So as I mentioned, the drawers could only be (easily) installed from the front side. The drawers with their housing/frame needed to be shoved 'in' the stairs from the front. This made that you lose storage space from the frame, drawer mechanics and drawer wall thickness.

So in this case all the parts need to have a certain tolerance on their dimensions. Making drawings and drafts made is easy for me to keep track of that and the placement of the specific parts.

Step 3: Cutting Sheets

So the first praktical step was cutting sheets of 9mm (3/8") and 12 mm (1/2") to long strips of wood and 3 drawer bottoms. The drawer bottoms were trapeziodal of shape so that was the trickiest one to cut. Having a track saw does make that a lot more precise and repeatable. It's not essential.

The strips could be made with a parallel fence on your average hand held circular saw. To be honest this is my favorite tool because of simplicity and speed of cutting. Mine isn't even that fancy, It cost me only 100 euro's.

Step 4: Dimensioning Parts

As I said earlier, the parts have a quite specific tolerance, +-0.5mm (1/50") on length dimensions. So after cutting I checked my strips of wood (measuring on 3 to 4 point, the width) and shorthened them with a miter saw. Again this is convenient for repeatability and speed. You could work with a circular saw or handsaw. In my experience, with a little practice a handsaw can be precise. saves you a trip to the gym :p
Its a joke I tell my colleagues.

Step 5: Assembling Frames

So after hours of sawing and breathing dust I focussed on putting the frames together.

I used glue and pinnails to keep the parts together. The 9mm (3/8") tops and bottoms go 'on' the 12mm (1/2") sides. The nails go into the edges of the sides and the faces of the tops/bottoms. The tops/bottoms actually consist of strips and not of full sheets. This saves weight and material.

Later on the corners will be reinforced with drawer rails.

Step 6: Assembling Drawers

The drawers very much go together like the frames. Glue and nails do the job. The sides are thicker plywood and the fron/back and bottoms are of the thin plywood.

The video doesn't show this but the inside corners were reinforced as well. Given this does eat up effective space but this prolongs the lifespan of the drawer. Materials always degenerate in strength over time, this varies ofcourse between different woods and engineered woods like plywood. Steel for examples does degenerate but will keep a certain level, aluminium degenerates continuesly.

Step 7: Drawer Rails

The drawers will be supported by hardwood slide bearings. Rails if you will. The rails were cut to 18 mm (3/4") square.

I used Meranti (PEFC certified) for this. I am not perticular happy about this I much rather use maple, beech or oak from the Netherlands where I live but this is difficult to obtain compared to the meranti.

Step 8: Attaching Rails

So the rails were attached in the corner of the frame. Then with a correct spacing to the drawer. In a fashion that the drawer is supported with an airgap between the bottom and top of the frame.

After that the third rail is attached to the frame, spaced with the thickness of a rail + 1mm (about 1/32") from the rail in the corner.

To maintain the sliding parrafin (candle light material) wax can be applied.

Step 9: Test

This is not the step you want to skip. Very important to check the spacing and functioning. It was a mighty statisfying moment to see the drawers actually work with the tolerances and precision :)

Step 10: Fronts

The drawer fronts or faces were made from preprimed MDF. This material is quickly finished to a high end look.

A retangular recess was made in the front to function as a grip or handle. This was elegant and space saving in my opinion.

Step 11: Install!

To make the drawers go in I had to remove the backboards of the stairs. I had hoped I could screw them loose or pry it neatly, but i had to hammer it through.

And then the most stressful moment... Will it fit?

Luckily it did, my measurements and careful work did pay off. I could shove the drawer frames in and then the drawers.

Step 12: Securing

The drawer frames were screwed to the stair stringers. And to each other with panels of wood.
Between the drawer frames I put a filler piece to account for the thickness of the stairtred. The frames rest on each other and not on the stairs.

Step 13: Attaching Fronts

And as final step I attached the fronts first with hot glue and then 5 screws from the inside of the drawer.

I made sure the fronts had an even airgap in relation to the stairs. 2mm or 1/6".

Step 14: Be Satisfied

Projects which are difficult will always go wrong, even this project had a few scrapped parts or steps which took long.

The thing is you can determine yourself how much dissappointed you are with that. In the end, have patience and it will work as you want.

Thank you for reading! I hope it will inspire you!