How to Build a Sliding Shelf

Updated March 23, 2017

Adding a sliding shelf to a pre-existing shelving unit can add personality to any room. A sliding shelf is ideal for storage of larger items, such as pots and pans in a kitchen, but can also be good for storage of smaller things in boxes, such as kitchen spices, bolts or screws. Not only can a sliding shelf bring organisation to a shelving unit, but it is also easy to make and install at home.

Measure the thickness of the sliding tracks when they are attached. Write the measurement down.

Collect the measurements from the cabinet where the sliding shelf will be installed. This should include the distance between each side of the cabinet and the depth of the cabinet where the shelf will be installed.

Take the measurement between the sides of the cabinet and subtract the measurement from step 1 twice (for each side of the shelf). For the depth measurement, subtract ½ inch.

Create the shelf, using the adjusted measurements from Step 3. On the ½-inch-thick plywood, draw a rectangle, using the measurements from the previous step. Cut it out with a saw and sandpaper the edges and surfaces smooth.

Paint or stain the shelf, if desired, using a paintbrush. If several coats of paint or stain have been applied, let it dry overnight before assembling the sliding shelf.

Separate the sliding tracks from one another. There should be two base pieces and two sliding components.

Install the sliding components on the shelf itself. Line up the sliding components to the sides of the shelf that face the sides of the cabinet, more specifically the depth sides. Install the sliding components by screwing screws into the brackets and attaching them to the ½-inch-thick sides of the shelf, using a screwdriver. Do this for both sides.

Install the base sliding tracks in the cabinet itself. Mark the cabinet sides where the tracks will be installed with a pencil. Place the base tracks inside the cabinet and screw screws into the base brackets to attach them to the sides. The tracks should be directly opposite from one another when done, so use a level and a measuring tape to achieve consistent results. If the cabinet is naturally crooked, the sliding shelf will be as well.

Connect the base sliding tracks with the component tracks by sliding the shelf into the base tracks. This should be done at an angle. When installed, pull the shelf in and out a few times to ensure it works.

Things You'll Need

  • Plywood ½ inch thick
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver and screws
  • Paint or stain
  • Paintbrush
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • 2 sliding tracks
  • Ruler
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About the Author

Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.