Pantry and Microwave Cabinets

Pantry and Microwave Cabinets

Packaging of ready-to-eat foods, including canned goods, dried pastas and prepared foods in bulk, has created a storage problem. The many items on the average family’s weekly grocery list that can be stored in the modern kitchen demand an effective, easily accessible storage system. Pantry cabinets designed with adjustable shelving, or the more effective pull-out shelves on drawer glides, are a welcome feature. If you want to maximize storage space, pantry and microwave cabinets are extremely effective.


Pantry and microwave cabinets share the same basic carcass assembly. The sides are 801/2″ high and as deep as you require, the top and bottom shelves follow the width rules for standard cabinets, and the back is 801/2″ high and as wide as the bottom board plus the two side thicknesses. There may also be one or two additional fixed shelves. The face frame is 811/4″ high with 1″- wide stiles and 11/2″ top and bottom rails. The face frame may also contain up to five additional rails, depending on the drawer and door combination. Each cabinet is normally fitted with adjustable shelves, drawers, pull-outs or a combination of all three.

The upper section of the pantry cabinet is high and sometimes very deep. The tendency is to store kitchen utensils that are not often used for day-to-
day meal preparation. To better use this space, you might want to consider installing vertical fixed partitions in place of the normal horizontal adjustable shelf. Vertical partitions allow you to store articles such as cutting boards, pizza trays and large serving platters, which usually end up stacked on top of one another in a base cabinet. Simply attach the verticals with two screws through the top of the cabinet and two through the underside of the fixed divided shelf. You don’t have to be concerned with shelf loading capacity as these verticals simply define cubicals for large-item storage. Use vs” melamine-coated PCB as the divider partitions, with the plastic edge molding, veneer tape or hardwood edging covering the cut ends.


Individual areas, as well as supplier preferences, determine standards for the supply of veneer-covered particle core board. For example, 11 / 16″ veneer-covered PCB is a standard in my area. If you cant get vs” veneer PCB, use 11 / 16″ and adjust your stile width. You can use whatever is commonly available as the cabinet system will easily adapt to any standard.

Figure 7-2 details the construction of a pantry cabinet in which you install adjustable shelves or pull-outs. The pantry cabinet is built using two doors with the lower larger door(s) having three European hinges installed. The lower door is an industry-standard 611/2″ in height, and the upper door is 18″ high. A 1/2″ gap is left between the upper and lower doors so that we maintain the 11/4″ space at the top of the face frame. A rail is installed, with a fixed shelf board, at the point where the upper and lower doors meet.

Microwave cabinets, as shown in Figure 7-2, follow all the standard cabinet rules and usually contain a lower drawer bank or pull-outs behind doors, with adjustable shelves behind the upper doors. The middle opening normally contains the microwave. The opening space is large enough for most microwaves using a standard cabinet width of 27″, which has a 25″ inside face frame width. When planning for a microwave cabinet as part of the renovation project, don’t forget to have an electrician wire an outlet in the space where the microwave is to be installed.

If you are going to install four drawers in the base of this cabinet, follow the same rules and dimensions that apply to a four-drawer bank base cabinet. Remember to use spacing cleats if you are installing pull-outs behind the doors on either cabinet. The upper sections of these cabinets are normally fitted with adjustable shelves.

The microwave cabinet carcass can be built using wood-veneer-covered particle core board, as a portion of the cabinet is visible. A Ys” wood-veneer board will allow the face frame to extend Vs” beyond the carcass, which makes it easy to use the wood doorstop molding around the perimeter that is visible. This technique covers screws and softens the look of these large cabinets.

Microwave and pantry cabinets are simply an upper and a lower with the space between them connected. Install these cabinets before or at the same time as the base cabinets so your maximum cabinet height is defined. This uniformity of height is important for upper cabinet trim installation as well as visual appearance. Since these cabinets are often end-of-run units, finishing trim should be applied, which will be detailed in chapter seventeen.

Don’t let the size or apparent complexity of these cabinets bother you. They are simple to build, although somewhat awkward to handle alone. You will probably need someone’s assistance during the assembly stage.

The back boards of these cabinets, like all the other standard units, will be installed over the side edges, which reveals the back board edge at the side of the cabinet. These visible edges will be “trimmed out” with doorstop molding after installation to finish the cabinet.

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