If you're not prepping food or eating, the kitchen table is a bit of wasted space. Worse than that, the underutilized surface can be an attractive spot for junk to collect. So, instead of letting it sit empty or letting it pile up with scissors, pens, and mail, make it more functional by adding a DIY drawer right to the bottom. It's time to bring that dead kitchen space to good use.
Sliding Into Better Storage
The concept of a DIY drawer is a bit daunting, so keep this in mind: a drawer is essentially a shallow, three-sided box. When viewed in these terms, building a drawer isn’t so difficult after all. But before you can start to build a box, start with your hardware.
In order to place a drawer, or multiple drawers, under the kitchen table, you’ll need drawer slides/runners. These flat pieces are made with grooves and tiny wheels. The lip of the drawer fits into that groove, and the wheels allow the drawer to slide in and out. Sliders are available at hardware stores in a wide variety of sizes and types. The size of the sliders will be what determines the size of your drawer.
Your sliders will be attached to the underside of the kitchen table, so make certain your grooves face down toward the floor or inward, toward each other. This will allow your drawer to fit properly. Since the drawer must fit those grooves, choose the wood that's as thick as the spaces are wide.
Prepping the Project
Don’t attach your drawer sliders directly to the underside of your table. If the drawer is flush against the table, you could have trouble pulling it in and out. You also don’t want to fill your kitchen table with holes.
Start with a piece of plywood cut in a square or rectangle. The plywood should be a little longer than your sliders (at least one inch at either end) and a little wider than your drawer (at least one inch on both sides). Place a screw or nail at each corner of the plywood to secure it to the table. Your screws or nails should be only half an inch longer than the plywood is thick. For example, if the plywood is one inch thick you’ll need hardware that’s 1 ½-inches long. Be careful with the placement of your hardware, as you don’t want to damage the top of the kitchen table.
Once the plywood is secured, attach the sliders. How you attach them will depend on the design of the sliders you buy, but usually, they screw right into place. After that, you’re ready to start building your drawer.
Building a Better Box
Drawers are essentially made up of just five flat pieces, rectangular in shape. Start with the bottom of the drawer, which will map out the length and width of the finished product. Test your measurements against the bottom of the table to be sure you have a workable size. Remember, the drawer must be free and clear of the legs on all sides, and because you also don’t want to lose too much legroom, play around with your sizing until you get it right.
How deep do you want your DIY drawer to be? You will need to decide because you have to cut the sides of your drawer next. Cut them to about three inches wide, and you’ll have a drawer about two to 2 ½-inches deep because of the way the sides line up with the bottom. The way the wood lines up will depend on its thickness. The front and back of the drawer must be cut to the same depth as the sides and the width of your drawer bottom. Measure at least three times, and be precise, or you’ll end up with a crooked product.
The back, front, and two side pieces of the drawer can simply be put together with L-brackets and screws. With a handheld drill, this project will take less than 30 minutes. However, if you want to create a more finished piece, use a miter saw to cut the edges of each piece at an angle. This allows the edges to be placed flush together. Put the pieces together first with wood glue, and then add your brackets. Skilled carpenters can try more advanced techniques, such as tongue-and-groove, but this method is easy enough for beginners.
Now you have a sturdy drawer frame, and all that’s left is to attach it to the drawer bottom. This is the part that must be the most secure. Otherwise, the bottom will drop out and you know that means disaster. Use the same method for attaching the bottom as you did for creating the frame. Miter the edges, if desired, before using wood glue to bring the sides and bottom together. Shore up this bond with nails or screws and your L-brackets.
Want an easier option? Instead of building a drawer box, try repurposing a drawer from a piece of old furniture and buying sliders to match. A plastic storage bin can also be used, but make sure it has a lip around the edges so the drawer slides will have something to grasp.
Once you have your drawer, one way or another, slide it between the runners you previously installed.
Adding a simple DIY drawer is a quick method of giving yourself a little extra kitchen storage space, but what if your table has a skirt or apron in the way? The technique is basically the same, but the measurements will have to be perfectly precise. You’ll want to attach the sliders and build the drawer but mount it so the front is even with the back of the skirt and size it to the same depth so the drawer is neatly hidden. Carefully cut out that section of the skirt (an oscillating saw is good for this) and attach it to the front of the drawer. Now the drawer matches seamlessly with the table.