My toddler-aged son recently became mobile enough to start standing and exploring the kitchen. This includes the trash and recycling, the home of untold treasures.
In an attempt to keep the boy out of the garbage, we put those cans up on tall chairs. This worked, but it’s frankly a little weird having to explain the concept to visitors who have to sit in folding chairs for dinner while the trash can gets the nice padded seat in the corner.
We decided a sliding trash-can cabinet was in order. Commercial options are available, starting at around $63. Unfortunately, those mount to the bottom of the cabinet. Our designated cupboard has an outlet for the dishwasher in that space, which would block the drawer slides.
You can buy versions that mount higher-up in the cabinet, fixing the problem, but the price climbs to $83. That cost jumps further to $143 if you want the soft-close drawer slides, which prevent the cabinet drawer from slamming.
Those price tags seemed a bit high. I figured I could build something of similar quality for cheaper, if not much cheaper, so I dove in. Watch the video above for the full build, or read on for review of the project along the way.
I did save money by building the drawer myself, but those savings weren’t huge over the cheapest option.
- Half of a 4x4’ sheet of ¾ plywood: $20
- Two trash cans: $20
- 1 ¼” Kreg pocket-hole screws: $7
- 22” full-extension, soft-close drawer slides: $15
- Total: $62
This cost goes up once you factor in glue and finish. (I used four layers of Polycrylic water-based finish, which I had leftover from a previous project.) Of course, you are getting a custom product made with high-quality materials built to your exact specifications. There’s a lot of value in that. But the real advantage here is that this plan uses those soft-close drawer slides, which appear to be unavailable in commercial slide-out trash can options until you are well north of the $100 mark.
In theory, there’s no elite skill needed to build this drawer. In reality, the project’s difficulty level does increase a bit because the drawer must fit in a very specific space.
Compare building this drawer to building a bed. When building a bed, you’ve got the whole room to work with, so it’s not that big of a deal if you’re off an inch here or there. Meanwhile, when building this drawer, your tolerances are measured in fractions of an inch. Measure too long, and your drawer won’t fit in the cabinet. Measure too short, and your trash cans won’t fit in the drawer. This can be pretty intimidating.
Still, it’s far from impossible. Just be prepared to forgive yourself if you make some mistakes, like I did. You won’t see this in the video, but I had to recut the top after cutting it an inch too short in a moment of brain-dead haste. Luckily, I had plenty of extra plywood to work with, and that scrap piece is plenty good to be used for other projects, so I was still able to sleep at night.
There wasn’t any one task that was particularly entertaining about this project. Still, it was a good confidence builder. I feel much more prepared to tackle larger projects involving drawers or cabinetry in the future. Plus, I’m reminded of the project’s success every time I throw something away.
This might not be the best woodworking project to start with, but it’s more than doable for beginners. I recommend giving it a try if you want a high-quality trash can cabinet custom built for your kitchen. Just don’t expect it to keep your kid out of the trash. Our son had unlocked the secret of the cabinet the same day I installed it.
Perhaps a DIY trash-can-cabinet child-proofing project is in order…