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Pantry sliding shelves

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  • Pantry sliding shelves

    I recently tore down my boiler chimney that ran through the kitchen and decided to build a pantry in it's place until a complete kitchen remodel ( wife's project .) I have already built the cabinet box to house the sliding shelves .

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    I plan on installing 5 full extension sliding shelves and my question what is the best way to build the box in which the sliders will attach to ? . I'm using 1/2 " MDF only because I have a full sheet of it and rather not buy 1/2 " plywood at this time .

    I would like not to use mechanical fasteners to assemble the box and was thinking a 1/4 1/4 1/4 rabbit joint method ( think that's what they call it ) and just use glue . Have any of you use this method for drawers ? . Think with MDF it will be sturdy enough ? or is there another ( besides dovetail ) that's better ? .

  • #2
    Yes, I have used the Quarter-Quarter-Quarter method to build drawer boxes and it works but I have not tried it with MDF. MDF as you know does not have a lot of strength compared to wood. For a drawer that may get opened and closed many times a day I wonder how it would hold up. Soft-close drawer slides might help with that.

    Be sure to orientate the joints so when you pull on the drawer front you are not pulling the joint apart. The sides of the drawer box should have dados and the front and back drawer box pieces should have a rabbit on each end.

    Box joints are another way to go. A simple jig to use with your miter gauge and you're set, once you get it dialed in that is. But that's not difficult, and the jig can be used again and again to make box joints in the future. I have not tried making box joints with MDF but they do provide a lot more glue surface. You can also reinforce them with some brads driven in from the top and bottom. For your 1/2" material and with 1/2" spacing on your box joint fingers a 1-1/2" brad would connect through three fingers for the brad on the top and three more on the bottom. That locks the drawer pieces together mechanically not just with glue. Of course there is also the chance of the brad blowing out the side and screwing up the whole thing. For that reason I use wire brads driven by hand not the flat brads like those in pneumatic nailers which can tend to wander. But that may not be a problem in MDF since it has no grain to deflect the brad as it enters the workpiece.

    Quarter-Quarter-Quarter Drawer method
    Last edited by Bob D.; 08-14-2021, 01:27 PM.
    "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" ? Bob D. 2006
    "?ǝɹɐ sɹǝƃuıɟ ɹnoʎ ǝɹǝɥʍ ʍouʞ noʎ op `ʍɐs ǝlqɐʇ ɐ s,ʇı"


    • #3
      Personally I hate MDF, there's simply no integrity to it and it sags even within a 18" span. I've only built one project with MDF, a couple of decades ago and I was so dissatisfied with it, I vowed to never use it again.

      When I bought the house here, it had a pantry similar to what you are building, with pull out storage shelvess. My wife loves it and so when we did the kitchen remodel, that was not to be touched. It is about 60" high with hardwood-sided drawers that are 18" wide by approx 17" long and 3" deep. She keeps a lot of stuff in there, including can goods. So much so, that it is overweighted in my opinion. The problem we therefore have is that the laminnate-covered chipboard sides buldged out in the middle, pulling away from the shelf tracks at that point. Chip board, from my experience is a heckuva lot stiffer than MDF.

      So, I think I would take that into consideration if I were to tackle a project like yours.

      Hope this is helpful,

      Last edited by CWSmith; 08-13-2021, 02:33 PM.


      • #4
        All good points CWS. He said he wants to try to use the material he has on hand but
        it might be a case of you end up doing it twice if you use the wrong material to start.
        "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" ? Bob D. 2006
        "?ǝɹɐ sɹǝƃuıɟ ɹnoʎ ǝɹǝɥʍ ʍouʞ noʎ op `ʍɐs ǝlqɐʇ ɐ s,ʇı"


        • #5
          I agree with CWS that MDF would not be my first nor second choice. With some decent quality drawer slides you could probably get away with using box joints(I was ready to jump all over dovetails until I read your last sentence) for the drawer. We have a 4 shelf pullout cabinet with 32W x 21D shelves that still works as good as new after 9 years.
          The Leading Cause Of Injury In Older Men Is Them Thinking They Are Still Young Men.


          • #6
            Thanks for the video Bob .... Just checked prices on sanded birch plywood at HD , prices come down since the last time I checked . The only place near me to get good baltic plywood is a place where it would need to be ordered @ $ 100.00 4x8 sheet ... CWS you make valid points on MDF ... I have used it for wainscoat but never for shelving / drawers .

            I constructed the cabinet box out of 3/4 " ply sides , 3/4 " poplar face frame . 1/2 " ply top -bottom and 1/4 " birch ply back inset 3/4 " with 3/4" backing for the slides . all in which I had and have enough for the door .. I already cut down the MDF sheet with my Master Force track saw ( thanks Dave works good ) . If it falls apart lesson learned .

            So far going by Bob's video I measured my material and stack dado.

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            And I received from Amazon today 1 set of slides ... though there is suppose to be 5 sets .... Amazon warehouse special .. My guess Mr Stiles along with his accomplice Mr Rails took out 4 sets and returned one set for full refund claiming damaged during shipping.

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            Amazon told me to keep the one set and issued a refund .. So now I have to reorder ( the only money I spent so far along with the screws and back rail on this project ) I will test my MDF draws and post pics when assembled.


            • #7
              That was a bad idea ... Total garbage ... Using the 1/4 " method dry fitted one drawer after using a utility knife get it to fit , MDF does not rabbit well to fibrous ... and after a little pulling pressure these are the results.

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              They pulled apart .... I should of stuck to my original plan and used wire shelving , but not wife approved ... So plywood it will be box jointed together for the aesthetics.


              • #8
                Yes, plywood will work, but it tends to splinter. So if the hole in your jig is not tight all around (all the sides of the cut), use a backer board. The backer could be 1/4" MDF or even 1/2" as long as you jig will still work.

                I think Bill's method is one of the easiest and most accurate.

                And if you're interested in making a sled, he's got a nice video on building one of those too.

                Last edited by Bob D.; 08-14-2021, 01:55 PM.
                "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" ? Bob D. 2006
                "?ǝɹɐ sɹǝƃuıɟ ɹnoʎ ǝɹǝɥʍ ʍouʞ noʎ op `ʍɐs ǝlqɐʇ ɐ s,ʇı"



                • #9
                  What about something like this? Drawer Sides-Select Size | Rockler Woodworking and Hardware Not sure what size drawers you need. It may not be cost effective but then again.


                  • #10
                    The drawers are 19 1/2 " x 22 ... I looked on Rockler's website and the do sell 1/2" Baltic birch ply 24 " x 30 " and would be able to get 6 pieces about 5 " in height or the other alternative would be 1x6x8' poplar which would be double the price to the Baltic ply.

                    One of the problems with plywood is that it's undersized .. So 1/2 " plywood with the 1/4" locking drawer method would not work very well ... I think I will go with the 1x6 poplar that way I can use the locking drawer method at 3/8" with my stack dado .

                    One other alternative is to get a locking drawer router bit that way I could use the Baltic ply . I'm all set on the door , a while back I purchased a Freud shaker stile and rail bit set that can be adjusted for undersized 1/4" ply and also for larger doors like mine your able to extend the tenon .

                    My mind of what route taken for purchase will be made up by 12:00 PM Sunday the end of my states sales tax holiday .


                    • #11
                      I Finished one draw box ... I used 1/2 " Baltic Birch and used a lock drawer router bit to connect the box together ... For the bottom I used 1/2" MDF ( that I had on hand ) and painted white . I used a clear water base semigloss polyurethane that I also had on hand for the Birch finish ... Only 5 more to go .

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                      • Bob D.
                        Bob D. commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Looks good, keep going.

                    • #12
                      I like it, good choice.


                      • #13
                        Finally got it done ... I originally planned for 5 shelves but had a free slide from a amazon mistake ... I used a 40 lb pull 4 " door magnet to keep the large door flush with the face frame ... The panel to the door was to undersized for my stile and rail bit set that contributed to a wobbly door .

                        Keeping the theme of the upcoming football season you see a couple of footballs in the front face of the drawers .. ... but it was really a mistake on my part .

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                        • #14
                          Very nice. Every time we install those as a retrofit for a client, they love them. I'm sure that you will be happier since you made them yourself.