Make a hidden pot lid holder
Pot lids get knocked around and generally cause problems in most pot and pan drawers. This simple addition will bring harmony to a busy area of the kitchen.
As a passionate home cook, I use a dedicated deep drawer for my cookware. This allows me to store large daily-use items neatly without nesting them (and potentially causing damage). However, the matching lids are another story.
If the lids are placed in the same drawer as the cookware, they slide around and are a nuisance. My clean and well-organized drawer quickly becomes cluttered when everything is forced into the same space.
To tidy things up, I made a shallow pull-out drawer that fits in the empty space above the pot drawer. The pull-out doesn’t need to be very tall (about 2-1/2″) and no false front is required, as it hides behind the existing pot drawer face.
Test fit your groove in scrap material before committing on your actual project pieces.
Using a long auxiliary fence on your mitre gauge is a great way to increase accuracy and repeatability. A stop block can be clamped to the fence.
Once the lid drawer is assembled, Nicholson drills out each joint and taps in dowels to reinforce the joint.
Selecting a Joint
The pinned rabbet joints that Nicholson likes to use in these situations are attractive and strong. This would also be a great time to practice a new joint, as there’s only one drawer to construct.
A spacer, made from any sort of scrap you have around the workshop, will give you a firm foundation to secure the pot lid drawer slides. Rest the spacer on top of the existing slide, clamp it in place and secure the new slide.
Measure in metric
To begin, take careful measurements of the drawer opening. I used undermount glides, but this project could easily be built with less expensive side-mount glides. Whichever glides you choose, refer to the manufacturer’s directions to ensure your drawer box is the correct size.
When working with undermount glides I find it much easier to work in metric and convert to imperial at the end of the design stage (undermount glides use a nominal metric measurement).
With the width (34-3/8″) and height (2-1/2″) established, direct your focus to the length. I used 450mm glides for my pull-out, so to accommodate undermount glides, my drawer needed to have a finished length of 456mm (18″).
Build the Box
Start by dimensioning your lumber to 5/8″ thickness, or simply buy pre-milled lumber. I chose white maple to match my existing kitchen. Joint one edge, and then rip all pieces to 2-1/2″ on the table saw.
Next, set up to cut a groove for the drawer bottom. With the saw off, lock the table saw fence at 1/2″ and adjust the blade height to 5/16″. Using a push stick and featherboard, run all your pieces through the table saw to establish the beginning of the drawer bottom groove. Turn the saw off and let the blade coast to a stop. Move the fence slightly farther away from the blade and repeat the process. Check the fit against your drawer bottom stock and keep taking light cuts until the drawer bottom fits perfectly in the groove.
Head to the mitre saw and square off one end of each workpiece. Next, flip each piece end for end and cut each piece to final length, using stops for repeatability.
Joinery is next
I really like pinned rabbets for drawer box construction. They’re strong, attractive and easy to make. However, small projects like these are a great opportunity to try new joinery, so don’t be afraid to try a new technique.
If you decide on pinned rabbets, make sure to account for the extra length needed in the planning stage (each side length is increased by 5/8″ to account for the 5/16″ removed from each joint). Mark a line 5/8″ in from each end of your front/back piece, and then move back to the table saw, where the blade height should still be set to 5/16″ from earlier.
Attach a long plywood auxiliary fence on your mitre gauge and make a kerf cut. Turn off the saw and wait for the blade to stop. Line up your pencil mark with the kerf slot you just cut and clamp a stop block on the far end of the auxiliary fence. Make your first cut. Turn off the saw, let the blade coast to a stop and then repeat the process for the remaining three joints.
Remove the stop, slide the piece along the auxiliary fence a kerf thickness farther from the blade, and cut again. Turn the saw off, let it coast to a stop and move the workpiece again. Repeat this process until you have a perfect fit. Any ridges left by the saw blade can be cleaned up with a router plane or sanding block.
Fit the bottom
Simply cut the plywood bottom to length and width and then slide it in the groove you cut earlier. Dry fit your project to ensure everything fits well, disassemble, sand the inside surfaces smooth and then proceed with the glue-up. Apply glue to each joint and clamp up overnight. Applying glue to the drawer bottom groove is optional, but I find that it stiffens up a drawer box nicely.
After removing the clamps, I drilled out two 7/32″ holes (1-1/4″ deep) in each joint and glued in matching diameter dowels. When the glue was dry, I trimmed the dowels flush and sanded them smooth.
Sand everything up to 220 and apply a finish of your choice. I used two coats of water-based polyurethane. The last step before heading to the kitchen is to install the drawer portion of your hardware by following the manufacturer’s instructions. For me, this meant drilling a pair of specifically placed holes, cutting out two notches with a coping saw and attaching undermount clips.
The placement of your new drawer is an important detail. Make sure you install it low enough that your pot lids won’t bump into the drawer face above, and high enough to avoid interfering with the drawer box below. I found a good balance for the undermount glides was to place the bottom of the new runner 3/4″ above the existing pot drawer box.
Make a mark on the inside of the cabinet 3/4″ above the existing drawer box. Remove the drawer box and cut a spacer that fits between your pencil mark and rests on the drawer glide below. Place the new runner on the spacer, set it back 20mm from the front of the cabinet carcass, and drill out two pilot holes (front and back) using a self-centring bit. Attach the runner with two 5/8″ screws and then check for level. Make any required adjustments, then drill out and attach the remaining fasteners. Repeat for the opposing side.
Slide your drawer onto the glides and check for smooth operation. Then it’s time to load up the drawer with lids and enjoy the extra storage space and a less cluttered kitchen.