Making a Roll Out Storage Cabinet.




Introduction: Making a Roll Out Storage Cabinet.

About: Carpenter for way to long.

Our house has very little kitchen storage, so we are forced to use every space available.  There are some existing shelves in the basement that were installed by the previous owner, but they are so deep, front to back, that when canned food, or anything else for that matter,  is stacked on them you can't see what everything is.

The existing shelves are 32" deep, far to deep to be practical for the canned food storage that we wanted to use them for.
 As you can see from the junk on the shelf to the side they aren't bad for storing bulky items.

The frame for the shelves is about 84" tall and 22" wide  that's almost 5 sq. ft. per shelf so it really has a lot of potential, but just doesn't work as is.

This project actually started with the First In First Out rack that is mounted on the end cap of the shelves. It worked great, but just didn't hold enough.

Step 1:

Me getting ready, and part of da shop.

A quick word about safety.

Power saws are sharp. They hurt really bad when you get cut. Don't put body parts near saw blades.

I know that I show my saws without guards and with guards retracted, but I have been doing this for a long time and have a true fear and respect for these tools. I have seen what they can do to the human body, it ain't pretty. I in no way advocate using power tools without proper safety guards, this is just the way I do things. You are responsible for your own actions if you use tools such as the ones portrayed here.

Step 2: Tools and Material

Everything in this project is re-purposed material from my shop. The only thing that I actually bought was the sheet of plywood that was left over from another project and the handles. Even the paint is a left over.

The list of tools is long but I have them in the shop so I use them. By no means do you need all of this to make this project.
  1. Table saw.
  2. Drill press.
  3. Circular saw.
  4. Miter saw.
  5. Cordless drill.
  6. Cordless impact wrench.
  7. Speed square.
  8. Tape pencil.
  9. Clamps
  10. Nail gun. (Not pictured.)
The list of material may not be all inclusive, but this was a design as you go project, and I just cut or made items as needed. for the most part the material included:
  1. 4'x8' sheet of cabinet grade 3/4" plywood for the trim faces and shelf carcasses.
  2. 2"x8" for the bases.
  3. Old shelves cut down for the new shelves.
  4. Old 1"x3" shelf runners re used for new shelf braces, guides, and runners.
  5. Casters salvaged from an old frig.
  6. (2) Handles
  7. 1 5/8" drywall screws. (Not pictured.)
  8. 1" lag bolts. (Not pictured.)
  9. Door casing.
  10. Primer and Paint. (Not pictured.)

Step 3: Old Shelves Gutted.

The first obvious thing to do was to remove the old shelves and runners. Easy to do since the shelves weren't attached, and the runners just screwed on.

Step 4: Figuring the New Shelves.

I decided on two shelf units so that everything is accessible from each side of each unit.

Starting with a 22" wide rough opening,
Minus 1 1/2" for the center post, = two bays at 10 1/4" each.
Minus 3/4" each side of each bay for guide rails= 8 3/4" wide for each shelf box.( You will see the guide rails in a later step.)

Next was figuring the height.

84" from floor to ceiling minus 4 1/2" caster = 79 1/2".
Minus 1 1/2" for existing top plate = 78".
Minus 1 1/2" for 2" x 8" base = 76 1/2".
Minus 1/4" for a little play for the uneven floor, ceiling, etc.=76 1/4 box for the actual shelves.

Step 5: To the Shop!

The first rough cuts were to get a full sheet of flat stock down to a manageable size.

The first cut was across the width, making a sheet that is now 84" long, the rough overall height of the frame. Future cuts will be made to finalize finish sizes.

Now I rip the trim faces first to make sure that I have these important pieces first. After that I rip as many box pieces as I can out of the rest of the sheet. I got lucky and only needed to find one end piece for one box to complete the both boxes.

I'm not going to give all of the dimensions for the boxes, you get to figure that out for yourself.

I know that I added a step with the rough cuts and then recutting them, but as I said before, this was a design as you go project.

Step 6: Now the Bases.

Since the cabinet is going to hold a fair amount of weight I needed a good solid base to mount the wheels and to set the shelf box on. Because the shelf box is 8 3/4" wide a 7 1/4" 2x8 worked out pretty well, especially since that was what I had on hand.

Frame bay is 32 deep, so base is 32" as will be the box.

Each base will only have two wheels because I only had four to begin with. You will see later how I dealt with the problem of keeping everything from tipping over on this bicycle rig.

With the casters being swivel, I needed to lock them in position to stabilize the units when in motion. On two wheels I only wanted movement front to back not side to side.

Off to the drill press.

I scrounged four screws the same size and ones that matched a size of tap that I had in a small set I had. I drilled  a hole in each swivel housing, then tapped threads in each, and add locking screws. This was not the perfect solution, and if I have it to do again I would probably change it, but it worked well enough to hold the casters in a straight line with the base.

Now to mount the casters to the base.

Casters are centered side to side, and far enough from the end to clear the existing plate in the back of each bay.
Pre drill for the lag bolts.
Install lag bolts.

As you can see in the last picture, you have to be careful with the impact wrench you get broken bolts. This can happen just using a hand wrench, but not as easily.

Step 7: The Box to Set on Top.

Now I made a simple plywood box to set on the bases and hold the shelves. The box measures 76 1?4" tall x 32" deep x 8 3/4" wide.

Running a full sheet of 3/4" plywood through a table saw by yourself is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but the table saw gives much cleaner cuts, so first I used a circular saw to rough cut the full sheet down to manageable size then finish cut them on the table saw. I could have done it all without the table saw, but if you have the toys, why not use them?

Boxes are screwed together with 1 5/8" drywall screws, 3 to each corner, drilled and countersink. You can use wood screws, but dry wall screws are a lot cheaper and I already had them.

After the boxes were all screwed together, I cut some scrap pieces into 45 degree corner braces to help keep the boxes from racking, one for each corner.

Mount the boxes onto the bases with more drywall screws, 6 per box. The clamps are used as helping hands to hold things together while the screws are installed.

The last picture shows the mounted box standing upright with the casters locked in place.

Step 8: Shelves

Adding the shelves is fairly straight forward.

The old shelving is cut down to size to fit inside the box.

Shelf supports are cut from whatever scraps were around. They are then screwed to the inside of the box at whatever interval you desire. I'm using the units for food storage, so 12" between shelves worked really well. That's 6 shelves in each box.

The side rails were, again, cut out of whatever was around The side rails are mounted on top of the shelf. they serve two purposes. Both are equal in importance, one to add strength and keep the shelf from bowing, the other is to keep the food from falling off of the shelf.

Step 9: Getting Ready to Install.

Installation was a bit of a challenge. With only two casters on each box, keeping the units upright is a real issue.

The solution was to install guide rails at the top and side to keep everything in line.

At the bottom the guide rails match the height of the side rails of the bottom shelf.

Most of the bottom frame plate was left in to give support to the center post with enough removed to allow the casters to pass freely.

At the top the guide rails extend out on the ceiling so that when the shelf is opened it wont topple over.  A spacer was needed so that the guide rails could pass under both the front and back frame plates. The height of the cabinet is tall enough that it can't come out of the rails as long as the casters stay in line so that the bottom can't slip sideways.

Now it's a matter of making sure the casters are locked in line with the guide rails so that the box rolls freely in and out of the frame. This might take a little playing with, but when you get it done right, the box probably wont even touch the guide rails at the bottom.

The shelf boxes are installed in the frame by tilting the top of the unit over into the guide rails then sliding the bottom over until bottom is plumb under top.

A stop bar was  then installed to keep the units from coming out to far. It was set so that the back of shelf box stays inside of the frame by a couple of inches.

In the last picture you can see that even a genius like me can have a , well , an error in judgement, let's say.

The boxes came out a little to tall and rubbed the top plates so I had to do a little field modification.
Since I hadn't glued the box together, all I had to do was remove some screws, pop off the top of the box, trim the side down, and reinstall the top. Simple.

Step 10: Final Touches.

These last few steps are probably the easiest.

The trim face is simply a piece of 3/4" plywood sizes to over lap the frame by about 1/2" to 3/4" on the sides, and very close to the floor and ceiling at the top and bottom. At the bottom the trim panel covers the caster when closed.

The panel is the trimmed with some door casing that I had on hand the was left over on a house building site. Yes, it was given to me!

The casing was cut with simple 45 degree miters, and nailed with 5/8" trim nails and a nail gun, making sure to stay flush with the edge of the plywood all of the way around.

Fill the nail holes with wood putty.

Sand smooth.

A coat of primer, two coats of acrylic latex.

Add a handle. (A tip. install the handles before painting, then remove to paint. This way you can mark where the handles go without messing up the paint. Also you now have the screw holes in place so that the final handle is easy breezy.)


Step 11: Final Note.

I know that some steps could have used some more pictures, but working alone , sometimes it just couldn't happen.

A few things that weren't shown was the use of some safety equipment,i.e. hearing protection,eye protection, etc.

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    12 Discussions


    4 years ago

    After 4 years of wear and tear what would you do differently if anything? Doy you recommend putting some guide rails on top?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is a great idea! I have already asked our neighborhood carpenter to make an almost similar mobile storage for our basement, for rice and canned goods. He is also going to make a similar storage for non-food items in another area for laundry items. My main requirement is to maximize space and keep the items uncluttered.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Neighborhood carpenter?! Wha...?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is exactly the inspiration I needed! My wife and I purchased our first home a few months back and my garage was completely bare. The kitchen doesn't have a lot in the way of storage and we don't have much for a hallway closet. I've built some shelving in the garage but planned on adding in a pantry of sorts and this will be PERFECT. I've got a great section that can have a deep shelf but just as you found, I knew it wasn't going to work well for canned goods and smaller items. Yea, it'll be awesome for big packages of paper towels and toilet paper, but that's it. This is genius. Seriously. THANK YOU!!!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the interest in my project. I hope it works out well for you. I would like to see the finished product, if you aren't able to do an 'able I would still like to see some pics.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    If there are any questions, or any way I can help just let me know.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    i have a under-stair closet that i could mod this for. great idea!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    If your project is in a finished living area, I'd like to see how you manage the guide rail issue, or if you even have to use guide rails. I put this together with what I had on hand so didn't spend much time considering other ways to do things.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, good luck with the mod. I'd like to see the finished product.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, it was an interesting project.