Customizing Your Kitchen
I don’t want to get too far off track; however, I thought I’d give you a few ideas for small custom projects for the kitchen that I’ve come across over the years. The possibilities are endless and the imaginative woodworker will have an outlet to create all kinds of useful accessories for the kitchen.
Wine Racks For the home wine maker, a kitchen wine rack is an excellent accessory. It allows us to display our hard work and have a ready supply of wine for family and friends.
A simple, yet very effective, wine storage and display system can be constructed using the lower half of an upper cabinet. Decide on the space needed for your display and construct a standard upper cabinet with an extra rail. Reduced-height doors are used in place of the standard 301/2″-high doors, and the cabinet is constructed from vo wood-veneer-covered PCB.
If you decide to use 18″-high doors, a fixed shelf and rail are positioned so the bottom of the rail is 191/4″ from the top edge of the face frame. This will leave an 11″ open space in the lower half of the upper cabinet.
A system of wine bottle racks is built using 1″ x 4″ for the front member and 1″ x 6″ solid-wood stock for the rear. Drill 1″ holes in the 1″ x 4″ stock and 4″ holes in the 1″ x 6″ stock. Position the holes so that there is approximately 3/4″ of wood under the holes on each board. Space the holes at 5″ centers for the average-sized wine bottles.
Cut the boards at the center line of the row of holes on each board. You’ll end up with two front and rear rack members from each board. Cut to the proper width for the cabinet and secure the rack parts in the cabinet with screws through the top. You can use wood plugs to cover the screw holes.
If you want a two-tier rack, install vertical pieces of 1″ x 2″ hardwood behind the front and rear members to support the upper rack assembly. This wine storage system can also be modified by attaching solid-wood sides and using it as a freestanding rack if you have available space on the countertop.
An appliance garage is another popular kitchen accessory. It’s used for quick access and storage of appliances such as toasters, mixers and food processors. It’s best installed under an angled upper corner cabinet.
The tambour is the preferred door style because it is hidden when in the open position and does not occupy any space in front of the garage. Constructing a tambour door and track assembly is time-consuming and fairly complicated, so most of the appliance garage units are purchased as a kit from kitchen supply manufacturers. The kits are reasonably priced and available in most of the popular types of wood. Normally these kits are bare wood that is ready for finishing. They come from the supplier slightly oversized so that you can cut them to custom fit under the cabinet. Follow the instructions with the kit for quick and easy installation. It is a simple little kit but really adds a professional custom look to the kitchen.
Plate display racks can be added to the space between the upper and lower cabinets. I have installed this accessory in a few kitchens by simply cutting a dado groove in a 1″ x 3″ piece of hardwood and rounding over the edges to soften the look of the rail.
Attach the 1″ x 3″ to the wall by securing with screws driven at an angle, from the underside of the rail, into the wall studs. You can also use small wooden brackets as an alternative method of securing the plate rail assembly.
The space above the upper cabinets, typically from ten to twelve inches, is often overlooked as a source of additional storage and display.
You don’t have to add any support assemblies to the tops of the upper cabinets, as most display items will sit on the cabinet. In some cases, if the display items are small, a raised platform can be added. However, this space
is best used to display pottery, baskets and kitchenware for decorative purposes. I’ve seen the tops of cabinets used for all types of display, from salt and pepper shaker collections to antique kitchen utensils.
Today’s cooks and hobby chefs have a wealth of information available to them. The average collection of cookbooks and recipe files is large. For those who reference cookbooks often, a bookshelf in the kitchen is a necessity.
Decide on the bookshelf location and dedicate that area to a modified upper cabinet, which you can build using the standard upper cabinet dimensions.
Build a cabinet in the same style as detailed in the upper cabinet section (chapter five) but substitute melamine-coated PCB for wood-veneer-covered PCB. The shelves should be veneer-covered PCB as well. Eliminate the door installation procedures and you have an open upper cabinet assembly with adjustable shelves.
The adjustable shelf system lends itself extremely well to items such as cookbooks. If they are not attractive, you can hide them in a cabinet with adjustable shelves, behind doors.
If you want a small bookshelf, follow the same procedures as detailed for the wine rack storage system. The end result will be a cabinet with reduced-height doors and an open lower-shelf assembly for your cookbooks.
The possibilities for the woodworker to design and build kitchen accessories are unlimited. I’ve seen pegboard mounted on 1″ dowels on the inside of doors for storing lids; a spice rack made with 1/2″ dowels and 1″ x 4″ wood at either end to hold spice bottles in a drawer; and base pull-outs to accommodate special needs. Look through magazines and browse the accessories section of the home building supply centers, where you’ll find many items that can be built inexpensively in your workshop.