If your wall cabinets are so full that you can’t find anything without constant reshuffling, we have the perfect solution. This swing-out cabinet provides two extra layers of shelving for great visibility and easy access.
We chose to make shallow shelves on the front for spices and wider shelves on the back for bottles or cans, but you can configure your swing-out however you like. Narrow adjustable shelves behind the swing-out provide even more storage space.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine
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Tools and materials for swing-out storage
You’ll find all the materials for this swing-out storage cabinet at home centers or lumberyards. The plywood has to be cut accurately into the parts for the swing-out storage, and the 1x3s ripped into 1-in.-wide strips for the shelf edging. A table saw and power miter saw are the best tools for these cuts.
We used an 18-gauge brad nailer and 1-1/2-in. brad nails to connect the parts. But if you don’t own a brad nailer, you can use screws or drive finish nails by hand.
3 tiers of shelving
Keep your most-used spices on the front shelf for instant access. The two inner shelves are perfect for items you use less often.
Plan the swing-out size
Since there are so many different sizes of wall cabinets, we can’t give you an exact plan for building a swing-out to fit in yours. However, since most wall cabinets are about the same depth, you should be able to make the cabinet 8 in. deep like ours, and you’ll only need to adjust the width and height to fit.
1. Measure your cabinets
Start by measuring the height of the opening (Photo above) and recording the measurement. Subtract 1/2 in. from the height to determine the height of the shelf unit. Also measure the narrowest width from protruding hinges or door parts.
2. Check for clearance
Determining the width is trickier because you have to subtract from the width measurement to compensate for the diagonal width of the swing-out storage cabinet. There are formulas you can use, but it’s easier to simply make a cardboard template and adjust the size until it fits. Cut a piece of cardboard 8 in. wide and 2 in. shorter than the width of the cabinet and see if it fits diagonally (Photo above). Trim the cardboard until you have about 1/2-in. clearance. Now measure the cardboard and subtract 1-5/8 in. to determine the length of the top and bottom. Check out Figure A in Project PDFs below for top and bottom swing-out measurements (Labeled “B” in Cutting List, also below).
3. Build a box
Start by cutting out the sides, top and bottom and nail and glue them together (Photo above). If you use screws rather than nails, you can skip the glue. Next, determine your shelf spacing and nail in the shallow shelves (Labeled “C” in Cutting List). Leave enough space for your tallest spice containers. We spaced our shelves about 5-1/2 in. apart.
4. Install the divider
Next, measure the inside height and width dimensions and cut the interior plywood divider (Labeled “D” in Cutting List) to fit. Press the divider against the shallow shelves and nail through the sides to hold it in place (Photo above). Flip the carcass over and measure from the face of the divider to the edge of a side to determine the width of the deeper shelves (Labeled “E” in Cutting List) on the back of the swing-out storage. We added two shelves, leaving one tall space for bottles, with two shorter spaces above. If you have a lot of bottles, you could simply divide the space in half and install only one shelf. Cut the shelves to fit and nail them in.
5. Drill holes for the rods
When the plywood carcass is finished, install the 1-in.-wide solid wood edging. After ripping the boards to 1 in. wide, cut the vertical pieces (Labeled “F” in Cutting List) to length, mark the hole locations and drill holes for the rods (Photo above). Set one edging piece on the swing-out and mark the rod positions 2 in. above each shelf. Drill 1/4-in. holes in the center of the edging at each mark. Use this as a pattern to mark and drill the opposite edging piece.
6. Add the edging and rods
Then nail the vertical edging pieces to the carcass, letting them hang over the outside edge about 1/16 in. (the width of a quarter; Photo above). Cut the horizontal edging pieces to fit between the vertical pieces and nail them in. Install these with the bottom edges flush to the plywood to create a 1/4-in. lip on the top of the shelf. Repeat this process on the opposite side to complete the swing-out construction.
7. Apply Finish and attach the continuous hinge
We used spray cans of polyurethane to finish our swing-out before installing it. Cover the aluminum rods with masking tape. Then apply several light coats, sanding the dried polyurethane with 400-grit sandpaper between coats. After you are done with the finish, cut a continuous hinge to the height of your swing-out cabinet with a hacksaw. Determine which side of the swing-out is opposite the cabinet door and mount the hinge to this side (Photo above).
8. Hang the swing-out
Prop up the swing-out so that there’s equal space on the top and bottom. Align the continuous hinge with the front of the hinge pin (the rod-shaped center section) flush to the cabinet face. Attach the hinge with the small screws provided.
9. Add adjustable shelves
Install shelves at the back of the cabinet. Measure the depth of the cabinet and subtract 8-1/4 in. to determine the depth of the shelves. Subtract 3/4 in., the thickness of the edging, from this dimension to determine the width of the plywood sides and shelves.
Cut two strips of plywood for the sides, and cut as many shelves as you want. Cut the side supports (Labeled “H” in Cutting List) to fit top to bottom in the cabinet. Then drill a series of 1/4-in. holes in the plywood sides for shelf pins. Use a shelf-pin jig or a strip of pegboard with 1/4-in. holes as a drilling guide.
Figure B (in Project PDFs below) shows how to install the edging pieces on the shelves and side pieces. Finish up by screwing the side shelf supports to the sides of the cabinet and installing the shelves. Mount a magnetic catch to the top of the wall cabinet to hold the swing-out in place.