Introduction: Under Cabinet Hideaway Tablet Shelf

About: I have always been curious in learning new things and wanting to be self reliant. I guess that works well with my professional Industrial Maintenance background of over 30 years. Recently I've been focused on …

Hello and welcome to my Under Cabinet Hideaway Tablet Shelf Instructable!

I made this hideaway shelf as part of a larger project that I will tell you about at the end. There is never enough counter space in most kitchens - especially if there is more than one cook in the kitchen! And, now with modern electronics and all of the online content, many of us use our phones and tablets for following recipes. I wanted to keep my tablet clean and have easy access.

My thought was to develop a folding shelf that could extend for use, then retract up under the cabinet for storage.

Step 1: Determining Your Needs, and Making a Parts List...

The largest tablet we have has a 10.1" screen and includes a protective case. While this may not be the tablet that will eventually become the "Kitchen Tablet", I don't think we will use anything larger. This tablet including the case is about 7" x 11". I also need to leave a little extra room for a power plug to keep it charged. I decided to make the shelf box inside dimensions 8-1/2" x 12". The box also needed to be 3/4" deep.

My existing cabinets are made from Oak, so I decided to use the same material for this shelf box. In order to make this shelf disappear under my cabinet when it was in the stored position, I needed to keep the bulk down. I decided that I would use 1/4" solid wood, which just so happens to be a stock oak thickness that is offered at Home Depot and Lowes. I also needed some type of guide rail or track and something to pivot. Fortunately, I had a unused pair of drawer slides. They were much longer than I would need, but I can easily cut them to the length I needed. I would also build a few parts with my 3D printer. This would be good practice for me using Fusion 360 to draw the parts.

My Materials List was...

1 piece 5-1/2" x 48" x 1/4 thick Oak board

1 set of drawer slides

2, 1" long, 8-32 machine screws

2, 1-1/4" long, 8-32 machine screws

4, 8-32 nylock nuts

PETG Filament for my 3D printer

Step 2: Make the Box (Shelf!)

Since the widest standard board that the stores offer in this thickness is 5-1/2" wide, I needed to edge glue two pieces together to make the bottom. The sides were made 1" tall, which will give me the required 3/4" inside depth. I finished by gluing up all four sides and allowed them to dry for an hour or so.

While gluing the joints, be mindful of the amount of glue you apply. Don't over do it. Once everything is clamped together, take a damp cloth and wipe up any excess. This will allow the final joints to look cleaner while letting the stain (If that's what you choose) to be applied evenly.

Step 3: Designing and Printing the Custom Hardware Parts...

I made a sketch of the design I had in my head. I decided to use the riveted roller on the slide as my pivot point. So, I took the dimensions of the roller and made a pocket on the swing arm that was .750" in diameter with .020" smaller in diameter on the outer edge so it would snap over the roller and stay attached. The first arm I made had a center to center pivot of 6". I found out that was too long, but more on that later. Remember, you learn from your mistakes!. I also needed to make a roller to support the back of the shelf as it slides back and forth on the guide rail. That was pretty simple, I just made it the same width as the riveted roller, just a little bit smaller in diameter. So, I made the roller 9/16" in diameter. The last thing I needed to design was a simple 1/8" spacer to keep the swing arm from dragging the box when moving.

Once I drew the parts I needed on Fusion 360, I sliced them with my Creality slicer program, Then printed them on an Ender 3 Pro Printer. I have used PLA and ABS filaments in the past, but wanted to try using PETG due to it having a little more flexibility and not as brittle. I found that with a bed temperature setting of 80 C and a nozzle temperature of 240 C, printed well for me.

Drawing Files: I have added the drawing files due to several requests. My reason for not including them originally was that I don't know how universal the dimensions of drawer slides are, so these may not fit your slides. My slides don't have any makers marks on them. The roller that is riveted to the slide measures 3/4" in diameter. Ultimately, you may need to modify the drawings.

Step 4: Finish the Box...

I needed to mark and drill the mounting / pivot points on the box. First, I cut the drawer slide guide rail to fit under my cabinet. I then installed the 3D printed pivot arm on the riveted roller. Now, align the back edge of the track to the back edge of the box. I then marked where the front pivot bold was located on the top edge of the box. Now I extended the center line of this mark down the side of the box. From the top edge of the box, I measured down 3/8". This is where my first hole will go. At the back edge of the box, I measured down the same 3/8" and 1/2" from the back. This located my back pivot guide. I repeated this on both sides of the box then took them to the drill press to make my holes.

I also realized at this point that I would need to create a relief cut on the upper top edge of the back of the box to allow it to pivot while rotating and not bind to the underside of the cabinet. I cut a 45 degree corner off of the back to provide the necessary clearance.

Now the fun begins! I sanded all of the edges, faces, and sides so they felt smooth and felt good when touching them. Once everything is test fitted and I'm happy with the movement, I will disassemble the shelf, stain and clear to match my cabinets. That will be later though.

Step 5:

Step 6: Layout and Pre-assembly...

I installed the back guide roller. It was tightened as much as possible while still allowing it to spin. This is why I choose to use nylock nuts on the machine screws. I also pre-assembled the guide rails and pivot arms and bolted them to the shelf box. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of this. Now measure the outer most dimension of the rails. Write it down because you will need the measurement to install the second rail under the cabinet. More on this in the next step...

Step 7: Squaring Up and Mounting the Rails...

After deciding where I wanted to mount this shelf, I mounted the first rail under the cabinet. The rails needed to be mounted square to the cabinet to allow easy, aligned movement. While I could have went out to my shop and brought in a small square, I decided to use an alternate method that you can use - especially if you don't have a square. I used a sheet of paper!. Simply align the edge of the paper to the wall and mark the bottom of the cabinet along the other edge of the paper.. a perfect 90 degree angle! To make mounting easy, I pre-drilled the holes and threaded in 6 x 1/2" wood screws. Now, I removed the screws and mounted the rail. The second rail simply is measured over from the original using the measurement you took in the previous step. Just measure carefully and keep them parallel.

Step 8: Final Assembly and Hide and Seek...

I guided the box with the back guide rollers between the rails by installing it diagonally and popping it onto the rails. Now, install the pivot arms on the riveted rollers. Install the 1-1/4" machine screws though the pivot arm, install the 1/8" spacer, then into the hole on the side of the box. Now install a nylock nut on the bolt. Repeat on the other side.

AND guess what? My initial calculations were way off! The mechanism bound badly and didn't open correctly! Remember earlier, I said to learn from your mistakes? It was time for me to learn! Now that everything was mounted, it was easier to correct my calculations. I changed my initial pivot points on the pivot arm from 6" to 3-3/4". Yeah, I know... I was way off! Once I modified my drawing and reprinted the arms, I installed them. Now, It works as I planned.

After adjusting the tightness of my bolts, the mount moves in and out well. If the tension adjustment becomes a problem, I may need to design and install a catch to help hold the box up tightly to the bottom of the cabinet when not in the down position. So far it is working though.

So far, this is shelf is working well. I am really happy with how it turned out! I still need to stain and clear the wooden box for it's final finish, but that will be next weekend.

I hope this Instructable will help you make something similar. The main thing is to inspire you to go out and create something yourself! Have fun and inspire others!

Step 9: Next Possible Steps...

This Instructable is actually the beginning of a bigger project I am working on. Ultimately, there will be a dedicated tablet mounted inside this shelf. I will use the tablet as a media center for music in the kitchen via bluetooth connection to a hidden speaker system.

The main point I like to make with any of my Instructables is MAKE IT YOUR OWN! If you don't like something in my design, change it!

In my opinion, the Instructables website is something to look at so you open your mind to ideas that are locked inside. Get creative and be an inspiration to others! I hope this Instructable will help you make something similar.

The main thing is to inspire you to go out and create something yourself! Have fun and inspire others!

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