How to Create a Pot and Pan Stack of Drawers

How to Create a Pot and Pan Stack of Drawers

A common complaint about kitchens is the lack of drawer storage. Many builder’s grade kitchens only have a single stack of 4 drawers, and often these are not large enough to store large items like pots and pans.

Installing a wide pot and pan stack of drawers in an existing ‘doored’ base cabinet is a simple yet highly effective way to increase the usable storage space in a kitchen. Refacing your kitchen is a great time to not only replace your cabinet doors but also to increase the functional storage space with pot drawers.

What is a pot and pan drawer stack?

A pot and pan stack is typically made up of three drawers, two 10” high drawers at the bottom, and one 4” high drawer at the top. The deep drawers typically house your frequently used pots and pans while the shallower top drawer is for utensils or cutlery.

We’ve summarized into a few simple steps everything you need to know to create a pot and pan stack of drawers.

1. Find the Best Cabinet to Convert into Drawers

  • Pot and pan stacks are best if they are not next to a corner. Select a base cabinet that is central in the kitchen. A double door cabinet in a frameless kitchen is a great spot to convert to pot and pan drawers as it will offer a width that is typically anywhere from 24” to 36” wide.
  • In a framed kitchen, look for a cabinet that does not have a stile or frame running between the two doors. The stiles can sometimes be removed, but in many kitchens, they do provide support for the weight of the countertop.

2. Plan your Drawer Layout

  • Determine how many drawers you would like to install in your base cabinet based on your needs and how you use your storage.
  • The most common layout for drawers is 2 boxes at 10” high and one at 4” high.
  • You may find a two-drawer stack works best with two extra deep drawers.
  • If you want to store a lot of baking sheets or utensils you might want to consider one 10” deep drawer with three 4” deep drawers above it.

3. Measure the Inside Cabinet Width (ICW)

  • The ICW on a frameless kitchen is the inside width from wall to wall of the cabinet box.
  • On a framed kitchen the ICW is the width of the opening from the inside edge to inside edge of the framed opening.
  • The Inside Cabinet Width will determine the width of the drawer box required, as the drawer box width needs to be less than the ICW. The reduction in width depends on the type of drawer slide being used.
  • For Blum Soft-close Tandem Slides that mount underneath the drawer box, 3/8” is deducted from the ICW to determine the overall drawer width.
  • Side mount slides typically require a ½” deduction from each side, or 1” overall.
A rendering of a kitchen cabinet with a label.

4. Measure the Cabinet Depth

  • Measure the depth of the cabinet from the back of the cabinet box to the front. Most base cabinets are 24” deep. When measuring check for obstructions in the back of the cabinets. In some cases, builders may run electrical or plumbing through the back of cabinets and you may need to reduce your drawer depth to clear the obstructions.
  • The standard drawer box depth within a 24” base cabinet is approximately 21.6”.

5. Measure for Drawer Fronts

  • Armed with your drawer box layout, measure for the height of the drawer fronts first.
  • Let’s use an example of a 30” tall base cabinet with a single 6” high drawer face and two doors 24” tall. To replace the two 24” tall doors you could order 2 fronts at 12” tall, right? Wrong. The drawer fronts need a gap between them, so they don’t touch when closed. Reduce the height of each drawer face by 1/8” allowing for a gap between faces. The 12” fronts should be ordered at 11-7/8” high and the top drawer face is actually 5-7/8” high.
  • The width of your drawer fronts should be 1/8” less than the outside width of your cabinet on a frameless kitchen.
  • On a framed kitchen, keep your drawer front overlay consistent with the rest of your doors and drawer fronts.
A rendering of a cabinet showing measurements.

6. Choose a Matching Drawer Box Height for the Drawer Face

  • The height of your drawer box should a minimum of 1-3/4” shorter than the height of your drawer face to allow the undermount drawer slides to clear the box mounted below and allow for the drawer front to overlay the cabinet face.
  • Back to our example above, for the 11 7/8” drawer faces, order the 9-1/16” (230mm) high drawer boxes, and for the 5 7/8” drawer front, order the 4 1/8” (105mm) drawer box.

7. Order your New Dovetail Drawer Boxes

With the measurements you took using the steps above, you are now ready to order drawer boxes using our online order form.

  • Step 1: Select how you measured; Inside Cabinet Width or Exact Drawer Box Width
    • Note – If ICW is selected we will deduct the necessary amount for our Blum Undermount Slides. If you are supplying your own slides please let us know Make, Model and Size in the Notes section.
  • Step 2: Enter the width, in inches.
  • Step 3: Select drawer box height from our standard list of sizes
  • Step 4: Select depth from our list of standard sizes
  • Step 5: Select hardware
    • When ordering drawer boxes, you have the option of adding Blum Undermount Soft Close slides to your drawers. We recommend Blum as these high quality slides will last a lifetime and installation is easy. If you are supplying your own slides please let us know the manufacturer, model and size so that we can prepare the drawers correctly.

Enhance your kitchen with a pot and pan drawer stack

By tackling these simple steps, you can enhance your kitchen makeover by adding function with additional drawer space for easy access or storage of large items like pots and pans. Quality built wooden dovetail boxes with soft close slides will give your kitchen that new-again feeling, and last for many meals to come.

How to Measure for Replacement Kitchen Drawer Boxes

How to Measure for Replacement Kitchen Drawer Boxes

Kitchen drawers endure a lot of wear and tear. Over the years they get yanked open and slammed shut thousands of times, and heavy contents shift with every movement causing the sides and bottom to loosen and eventually fail. If your kitchen came equipped with drawer boxes constructed using dovetail joinery, then they are probably still in great shape. But, if your kitchen has the typical builder grade drawer boxes held together with staples, they likely need replacement. 

An ideal time to replace old, worn out or broken drawer boxes is during a cabinet refacing project. Replacing your cabinet doors is an ideal way to beautify your kitchen and add value, replacing drawer boxes will increase the utility of your kitchen in just a few easy steps. You can even convert a doored cabinet to a pot and pan stack for added functionality. 

An image highlighting the dovetail joinery on a drawer box.

How to Measure for Custom Dovetail Drawers:

1. Remove Drawer Box to Measure 

Carefully remove your existing drawer boxes from the cabinet frame in order to accurately measure. Empty the contents of your drawers before removing as the drawers can be quite heavy when loaded. 

2. Measure the Inside Cabinet Width (ICW) 

Two factors will determine the width of your new drawer box: the Inside Cabinet Width of the cabinet that will house the drawers, and the type of drawer slide being used. The type of drawer slide being used will determine how much width is deducted from the drawer box in order accommodate the slide. For high quality soft close undermount slides like Blum (the preferred choice for most homeowners), the deduction is only 3/8”. A side mounted slide, which can be more economical, requires a deduction in width of 1”, making for a smaller drawer box. 

The ICW is determined by simply measuring the cabinet opening. On a framed kitchen this will be the inside measurement of the face frame from left to right. 

A framed cabinet shows the drawer opening.

On a frameless kitchen, the ICW is the inside width of the cabinet box itself. 

A hand holds a measuring tape in front of an opening in a kitchen cabinet. Measuring the space for a new drawer front for refacing the kitchen.
Measuring for a drawer box in a frameless cabinet.

3. Measure the Height of Your Drawer Box

Next comes measuring the height of your drawer box. Measure the height of the outside of the drawer box you are replacing. Most drawer manufacturers have standard heights ranging from 2.25” to 10.25” which cover the most common drawer box heights used in cabinetry over the last several decades. 

Altering the height of your drawer box is doable, for instance if you want to replace 2 shallow drawer boxes with a single deeper drawer box for pots and pans. Just remember to adjust the height of your drawer face to accommodate the drawer box. In general, the height of the drawer face should be 1.75” to 2” higher than the drawer box in order to accommodate the undermount slides and overlay. 

4. Measure the Depth

Measure the depth of the cabinet from the back of the cabinet box to the front. Most base cabinets are 24” deep. When measuring, check for obstructions in the back of the cabinets. In some cases, builders may run electrical or plumbing through the back of cabinets and you may need to deduct from the depth to clear the obstructions. The standard drawer depth for a 24” base cabinet is approximately 21”. A quality drawer glide like the Blum Tandem Undermount slide will allow for full extension of the drawer box for easier access. In general, the drawer box depth you select will be 2-3 inches less than the depth of the cabinet. 

5. Ordering New Drawer Boxes  

With the measurements you took using the steps above you are now ready to order your custom dovetail drawer boxes using our online order form. 

Select “Width Type” as Inside Cabinet Width and then enter your ICW width in the next box.  Select the Height of the drawer box required using the drop-down menu. Finally, select Depth using the drop-down menu. Selecting the Blum Undermount Slide will ensure your drawer boxes arrive ready to install. We will even mount the Blum locking device to the underside of the drawer box for you. 

Note – if you are replacing drawer boxes but intend to supply your own slides please select Exact Drawer Dimension under width type and input your drawer box width. Your measurements should be the exact size of the drawer box required (closest to our standard Height and Depth) .

Dovetail Drawer Box Features:

Custom dovetail drawers from Nieu include: 

  • 5/8” thick solid birch construction 
  • Dovetail joinery built for a lifetime of durability 
  • Low VOC, clear UV finish for extra water resistance 
  • 3/8” matched melamine bottom for added load capacity 
  • Shipped assemble for easy installation 
  • Blum locking devices installed for you when Blum slides added to your drawer order 

Update Your Kitchen with Custom Dovetail Drawers

Update Your Kitchen with Custom Dovetail Drawers

Taking on a kitchen cabinet refacing project is a cost-effective way to upgrade the aesthetic of your kitchen. It is also an ideal time to upgrade the utility of your kitchen by replacing broken or worn out drawer boxes with new, high quality, dovetail drawers with soft close undermount slides.  

Drawer boxes endure a lot of abuse in a kitchen, repetitive slamming causes items to shift, eventually weaking the joints of the drawer. Dovetail drawer boxes are the most durable method of constructing drawer boxes and when paired with soft close undermount slides are a simple way yet highly functional upgrade to your kitchen.  

A side view of four kitchen cabinet drawers, the top three are small and the bottom is taller. The side of the wooden dovetail drawer box is showing againts the Stepped Shaker drawer fronts in Winter White.

What are dovetail drawer boxes?

Dovetail drawer boxes employ a pin and tail method of joinery to lock together the four sides of the drawer creating a very strong connection between the walls of the box. The pins are cut into the ends of one side of the box while the tails are cut into the joining piece. Adding a small amount of glue and locking the two pieces together creates a drawer box that doesn’t require screws to hold it together. Lesser drawer boxes use butt joints and either staples or screws to connect the four sides which can and will inevitably fail.  

Dovetail drawer boxes also add a sense of style and artisanship to your kitchen as the jig-saw puzzle look of the joinery is visible from the sides and harkens back to the days when such joints would have been made by hand with basic tools and not the modern machines of today.  

Dovetail joints have been used in all manner of construction including log houses in colonial days, stone works in India and even Egyptian furniture dating back to 3100 BC. With that sort of longevity there’s little doubt that a drawer box constructed with dovetail joinery can withstand the rigors of the 21st century kitchen.  

A side image of a kitchen cabinet dovetail drawer showing the dovetail joinery in the wooden drawer box.
A side view of a Nieu custom drawer showcasing the dovetail joinery of the wooden drawer box.

Are dovetail drawer boxes worth the investment?

A dovetail drawer box constructed from a birch or maple plywood coupled with a soft close undermount slide will outlive lesser drawer boxes joined with staples or screws. The single most requested upgrade when working with customers on their kitchen cabinet refacing project is upgrading builders grade melamine drawer boxes that have become wobbly or loose due to regular use.

While dovetail drawer boxes are more expensive than melamine drawers, their longevity and utility make them a worthwhile investment for any kitchen upgrade and the simple beauty of the artisan joinery acknowledges the timeless nature of good engineering.  

Where can I add dovetail drawer boxes to my kitchen?

Dovetail drawer boxes can replace any drawers currently in your cabinets. It is a straightforward process of measuring your current cabinet opening, height and depth and ordering custom drawer boxes to fit. An easy upgrade to your kitchen is to convert a standard base cabinet with doors and shelves into a pot and pan drawer stack.  

A pot and pan drawer stack typically consist of two deeper drawers on the bottom, usually 11’’ to 12” in height on the face, and a shallower 4” to 6″ drawer at the top. The two deep drawers are great for reorganizing pots and pans and make finding a matching lid and pot much easier than digging through standard base cabinets with shelves. The small drawer on the top usually serves as home for cutlery or as a utensil drawer for items such as spatulas and measuring cups.  

An image of four open drawers in kitchen cabinets with dovetail drawer boxes and white stepped shaker drawer fronts with squared black drawer pulls.
Dovetail drawer boxes paired with the Stepped Shaker drawer front in Winter White.

Do dovetail drawers improve resale value?

If you are refacing your kitchen cabinets to boost the resale value of your home consider replacing your drawer boxes as well. When prospective buyers are touring your home, they will open and close both a cabinet door and drawer to check for soft close upgrades. Upgraded cabinets doors like our selection of shaker cabinet doors and dovetail drawer boxes will impress buyers and let them know that you were mindful of both quality and utility when you upgraded your kitchen.  

The Summary:

Adding dovetail drawers to your refacing project provides an additional level of upgrade to your kitchen. If you’re getting started on your refacing project, use our free Design Quiz to find your style, watch our How To Measure video, and at any time Talk to an Expert if you need help. A custom looking kitchen is just a few clicks away!