Canadian Woodworking

Kitchen shelf

Author: Steve Sddall
Published: June July 2003

This is a project that will help you get a little bit more out of the sun that may be in your kitchen.


Over-the-sink shelving solves a common problem many of us have in our kitchens: where to store and organize those items in our kitchen that we want to have in the sun? The sun is a valuable, and sometimes too rare of a commodity, in the kitchen.

This is a project that will help you get a little bit more out of the sun that may be in your kitchen. If you’re currently cramped for space to grow herbs or plants, or if you just need a little extra space to sun-ripen your tomatoes, this is a simple shelf solution for your kitchen.

Any shelving solution for your kitchen sink will need to be particular to your needs and décor, so there are no exact measurements given for this project.

Before you Start

First, you’ll have to determine if this type of shelf will work in your kitchen. Considerations include: window usage; available room (left, right and above the sink); and window coverings.

Window Usage

Do you open the window often? Make sure that your shelf enables you to maintain your current window usage. You may opt to build one simple shelf to extend your window sill and give you complete access to your window.

Available Room

What kind of space do you have to the left and right of the sink? You will need enough room for the shelf vertical to stand on the counter top on both sides of the sink and clear any cabinets.

Window Coverings

Coverings will make or break this project. We don’t have window coverings so this isn’t a consideration for me. Blinds inset in the opening of the window will not cause any problems. However, drapes are a whole new challenge. If you have drapes, you may want to remove or shorten them.

Because everyone will have a unique kitchen design, I have not provided a drawing for this project. This article is aimed at helping you to decide on, and build, a shelving unit that suits your needs.

You will need to assess and measure your shelving needs and build accordingly.

I used readily available 1″ x 6″ material from the local lumberyard.

Choosing your Wood

Stand back and imagine what wood will best suit your kitchen. Choose a wood that matches the look of your current kitchen. Our cabinets are melamine so I could have used just about anything. I chose pine because I like the look of it and it’s easy to work with.


Determine where and how the verticals are going to stand. There’s a back splash on our counter top so I had to cut the back of my verticals to fit around it. You will also need to decide how tall to make the verticals (which is determined by the height of your window and the valance, if any, over your sink).

Cut the Verticals

Cut the material for your verticals and stand them in place. Determine the length and height position of the shelves. I cut the top of the verticals at a slight angle. It’s hardly noticeable, but it does add a little character. Our bottom shelf was best at 11″ above the counter. That gave enough height to clear the dish soap container and plenty of clearance to operate the taps.

Once you have determined where the top shelf will be, see if there is enough room to put a shelf in between because there are never too many shelves.

I used #8 x 1 ¼” screws to hold everything together, and plugged the holes over the screw heads. If you want to avoid the use of fasteners, you could dado or biscuit the shelves into the verticals and glue everything together.

Because of the dampness and humidity of the sink, be sure to use a quality finish and to apply it liberally.

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