Easy Pantry Upgrade: DIY Pull-Out Drawer Shelves For Maximum Storage and Function!

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In this post, I’ll show you how I upgraded our pantry cabinet with easy DIY cabinet pull out shelves. You can transform any of your cabinets in no time with this trick that will maximize storage and function.

DIY pull-out drawer shelves

There’s nothing worse than not being able to find things in the kitchen, is there?  And with our old pantry, this happened all the time. It always had a lot of storage space potential, but because the cabinet was so deep, things got lost easily and simple meal prep or lunch packing was very frustrating. It was also almost impossible to access the back of the cabinet, so that’s kind of where things went to die, never to be seen again!

Not only did my old setup make the meal-cooking and lunch-making routine harder because I couldn’t find what I was looking for, but I also wasted food and bought extras of things I already had. I don’t like being wasteful and I certainly don’t like spending extra unnecessary money!

So I decided there must be a solution. And I found one! These DIY pull-out drawer shelves are a relatively simple project that gave me easy access to my bottom shelf and deep cabinets with the magic of using what I had and improving on it!

Kitchen pantry cabinet before installing pull our shelves.

Can you add pull-out shelves to existing cabinets?

If you’ve already figured out where I’m going with this and are wondering if it’s possible to re-make the existing shelves in your pantry or cabinet instead of purchasing a whole new cabinet unit, I have very good news! It absolutely is possible to add pull-out shelves to your existing cabinets.  

To create these DIY pull-out drawers, I simply used the shelves that were already in the cabinet. I ripped them down with my table saw to make them slightly smaller to allow for a drawer slide. Then, I built a box on top of them and added sliders. It really is that simple!

If you don’t have a table saw, no worries! You can use a circular saw and this inexpensive jig to make rip cuts.

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If you're looking for an easy pantry upgrade, check out these DIY pull-out drawer shelves. I have SO MUCH more storage in my pantry now! I don't have to lose things in the back, everything is easy to reach and I can actually find it! This was such an easy home DIY project!

What is the best wood for DIY cabinet pull-out shelves? 

My answer to the question “What is the best wood?” is always: free wood! As I mentioned, I used the original shelf to make the bottom of the existing shelves to make my drawers. I then used some scrap MDF boards to build the drawer box.

You could really use any kind of wood for this, especially if you are planning to paint your drawers like I did. If you want to stain them or leave the natural wood tone, you would want to go with something a little fancier. But any wood will do. Just make sure you get something sturdy enough to stand the test of time and that you can securely fasten a set of sliders to!

A major part of this little DIY was adding some simple roller slides so I could pull and push my new drawers in and out of the cabinet. So just make sure your drawer material can hold them.

Remember, if you don’t have a table saw, no worries! You can use a circular saw and this inexpensive jig to make rip cuts. You can also take your wood to Home Depot and have someone there cut it for you.

What is an alternative to ShelfGenie?

Some of you might be here because you’ve already thought of pull-out shelves as a solution to all your deep-drawer or hard-to-reach shelf woes. If that is the case then I’m sure that you have already stumbled upon ShelfGenie and its beautiful line of products.

Of course, ShelfGenie would have worked for me, but the price tag was just too much for me to handle. I believe I have found a DIY alternative to an expensive ShelfGenie system that anyone can make for themselves in just a few easy steps. Let me show you how!

Start by constructing a box for the drawer shelf

As always, the first thing I did was sketch what I was planning for the entire cabinet on a piece of paper. I knew I wanted the sides fairly short so that I could see into them easily, but also tall enough that things wouldn’t fall over the edges or back.

Because, let’s face it, this DIY was not suddenly going to make me more organized than I was already! You definitely don’t want to make your box walls too short, or you will just add a different kind of stress to your kitchen instead of solving a major problem.

Once I knew what I had in mind, I then figured out my official measurements with my tape measure. I did this by measuring the opening of the cabinet door and subtracting the width of the drawer slides I wanted to add.

Next, I constructed a box out of pieces of wood that will act as the drawer sides. Constructing a box is pretty easy, as long as your measurements and cuts are accurate and each corner is perfectly squared (use a speed square to check)!

I repeat: Make sure your drawer is perfectly square; otherwise trying to get it to work with the sliders will make you want to scream!

If you need help with using your miter saw to make accurate cuts, I have some tips and tricks for you in this post – just click here!

To assemble the box, I used a corner clamp to hold the sides in place. Then, I secured them with wood glue and nails.

Using what I already had

I used the shelf that was originally from the cabinet as the bottom of the drawer. I wood glued it all the way around and secured it with screws. The screw holes won’t be seen so don’t worry about that! Using the existing shelf as the drawer bottom for your pullout shelf makes everything easier in so many ways.

This ensures that your drawer will be the right size. It also means less material to purchase and fewer cuts to make. I highly recommend this method instead of starting from scratch.

Attach your drawer slides

To attach the drawer slides, I needed to first attach some supports to the inside of the cabinet. This way the drawer slide would bump out beyond the pantry door opening, and not hit the face frame. This is why I measured the opening of the cabinet and not the interior.

When installing drawer slides, it’s best to detach the part of the slide that attaches to the cabinet from the part that attaches to the drawer. That way, you can separately install the part that goes inside the cabinet and on the drawer. This method ensures that you’ll have better control over the measurements, and it’s just easier too.

I attached the drawer slides to the bottom part of the pull-out shelf (the part that was the original cabinet shelf). You can mount sliders in a few different ways, but this worked best for me and this project.

For example, if you chose to build the drawer from scratch and make your own bottom, you could use a bottom mount slider system. Whatever works best for you!

Now, I had rolling shelves that would come out of the side of the cabinet easily! I wasn’t quite done at this point, but I did do a little happy dance about how much better my pantry with its new slide-out shelves was looking already!

Never again would I scramble around trying to find the bottom of the shelf in the very back corner.

Finishing touches on your DIY cabinet pull-out shelves

The function was already greatly improved at this point, but of course, we can’t forget about style! I was able to turn these roll-out shelves into a thing of beauty without spending any extra money, which is always my favourite kind of finishing work. First, I used some leftover paint I had from my son’s closet to paint the bottom and sides of the drawer. Then, I made a simple pull out with some leather I had on hand. 

Side note: I realize that not everyone is going to have leather just laying around the house, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money on expensive pulls! You can get a pack of leather pulls super cheap on Amazon – like these ones.

A pantry cabinet with DIY pull out shelves

How long did this take?

Overall, this project took only a day! Best of all, it didn’t cost me anything other than the drawer slides, as I had most of the materials on hand. The drawer slides are a great product that I didn’t mind spending money on, since they really were the star of the show!

This is such a versatile custom drawer project that could help you almost anywhere you have a need for easier access to a drawer system. And it doesn’t have to be in the pantry either! Off the top of my head, I would say you could use it for measuring cups and spoons storage too.

Of course, this would work anywhere else in the house as well! If you have a deep inaccessible drawer in your bathroom cabinets, a sliding shelf or drawer would be a lifesaver. It would also work in the bottom of the cabinet you have in your garage.  

My pantry cabinet is so much more organized now, I can hardly believe it. I can easily pull out the shelves to find exactly what I need! Nothing gets lost in the back anymore, and that’s definitely a WIN!

Have you solved a storage problem with DIY sliding shelves or drawers? Put your before and after pics in the comments or tag me @diy.ourhome!

Check out the Instagram Reel I made for the DIY cabinet pull-out shelves below!

Maximize storage and function with DIY cabinet pull out shelves.

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Easy Pantry Storage DIY Hack: Pull Out Drawers