The construction methods and the material used in the construction of made to fit kitchen slide out shelves is the most important aspect to look at when deciding which shelves to purchase regardless of any claims otherwise. But before we get too far into that, a little history
In 2006 after spending several years working for a company that also makes slide out shelves the founder was confident enough in what he had learned to venture out on his own. With the philosophy that he carries today." It does not matter how long you have been doing something, What matters is what you've learned in the time doing it" and in that he knew there were things that the other company did (and continues to do today) that he thought could be better.
One item was the direction of the rabbet joints which exposed the layered ply of the product facing to the front of the shelf and showing the joint. So our drawers have a clean front which we feel looks more professional. Another feature that we will never do is butt joint our construction and surface mount a 1/4 ply for the bottom and claim it as 2 5/8" tall, we know that this is amateurish construction that has many faults including the bottom sagging and coming loose from the drawer sides over time in the front and back. We also learned that having our birch drawer sides UV Clear Coated is the better process over spraying a water based clear lacquer that raise the grain of the birch wood and will flake over time. So lets look at the materials that we use in the construction of our slide out shelves and the methods used in it
We use baltic birch ply in the construction of our shelves this material comes from the baltic region of Russia and is used in many applications such as skate boards, furniture and drawer boxes. Desired for its strength and workability the top layers of baltic birch has a light hue similar to maple. We use 9 ply 1/2" thick to produce the sidewalls of our shelves and have an optional 5 ply 1/4" for the shelf bottom. 9 and 5 ply refer to the number of birch layers alternative layed together to create the board. By laying alternative grain directions give the ply added strength.
Why Baltic Birch Is Preferred:
1. Superior Screw Holding
Because the core layers of Baltic birch are actually veneers of birch (rather than a softer, secondary wood) and form a void-free core, screws bite and hold with 100% of their threads. Conversely, traditional veneer core plywood has voids and is also made up of softer materials so screws don't get a chance to clench the best they can. You also might find sheet goods made with MDF (medium-density fiberboard) core, and though its 100% solid, MDF is soft and just doesn't have the screw-holding power of Baltic birch.
2. Cleaner Joinery
Tipping the hat once again to the uniform birch veneer layers of the core, you'll get clean dadoes and rabbets for strong and, when appropriate, great looking joints. Because the core is free of voids, your joinery also won't suffer from glue starvation ,they'll get 100% glue coverage. Anything you build out of Baltic birch should last a good, long time.
3. Improved Strength and Stability
All plywood runs the risk of warping, and the most common type of warp in plywood is bowing. Baltic birch is not immune, it's still a wood product. However, Baltic birch has the odds stacked in its favor much better than other plywood, chiefly in 1/2" and 3/4" thickness. The cross-banded layers of 1.5 mm thick birch veneer makes the sheets balanced, which promises a flatter product. However the thinner sheets, like 1/8" and 1/4", simply will not remain flat in large pieces and this is no surprise. That's usually not a problem though because these are usually used in applications like drawer bottoms and cabinet backs where their cut down to smaller sizes or captured in dadoes and rabbets. It should be obvious that the thicker sheets are more stable because they have more plies. 3/4" Baltic birch in particular won't change much in width or length, that is why its great for jigs and fixtures that need to maintain accuracy over the years.
4. Attractive Appearance
One of the fortunate benefits to Baltic birch, too, is that you can leave the edges exposed if you like the look. Because the core is free of voids and all birch, the exposed edges sometimes have an appearance that works for the project, and this saves you time and material no need to spend time and effort on applying edge tape or solid edge banding unless you want to. Simply sand and finish the edges as they are. The face and back can be stained when you need a different color. Like solid birch lumber, for it to stain evenly with an oil based pigment stain you'll need to apply a stain controller or a wash coat of de-waxed shellac. Otherwise use dye for even color. To keep the uniform, light color instead, simply finish Baltic birch with a basic clear top coat of lacquer or polyurethane but be careful using water based lacquers to avoid raising the grain, UV finish is the hardest and most desirable.
5. Thicker Face Veneer with Reasonable Quality
With close inspection of Baltic birch, you should notice that the face and back veneers are remarkably thicker than the veneers you'll see on traditional cabinet-grade plywood. Sadly, it's well-known that cabinet grade plywood veneer faces are dismally thin, which makes them easy to damage and easy to sand through. But not so with Baltic birch. Outer veneers are nice and thick. As for the appearance, there are several grades of Baltic birch available,. There can be up to 6 color-matched 'football' patches (about the size of a large egg), mineral streaks and small-but-sound dime-sized pin knots.
We use BB/BB birch for our sidewalls and BB/CP for the optional 1/4 bottom ply
All of our pull out kitchen shelves are available with Blum® epoxy coated steel drawer slides. These slide are rated for 75 lbs weight capacity and they extend out 75% or 3/4 extension. An option available on most made to fit items is the full extension ball bearing slide. We also have available a full extension soft close slide. We have seen a claim from another company that says they don't use ball bearing slides because the slides gum up. This is just not true, if your slide gums up it is not because it has ball bearings it is because you have spilled something sticky on the slide, and whether it is ball bearing or epoxy with nylon wheels it will be sticky. Take a warm damp rag and clean the drawer slide to remove whatever has been spilled.
Ball Bearing Full Extension Slides have a load rating of 100 lbs static and 75 lbs dynamic, They have a carriage of small ball bearings that provide a smooth gliding action unlike the clunking of the old style epoxy with nylon wheels full extension slide.
Ball Bearing Full Extension Slides with Soft Close have a load rating of 90 lbs static and 75 lbs dynamic. Originally developed for RV and Motor home drawer slides they have a gas cylinder attached to a catch on the slide that will capture the ball bearing slide the last inch of inward movement and slowly bring the slide softly to a close. A drawback to this slide is that it takes almost a jerking motion to pull the sliding shelf out as you are trying to release the slide from the soft close cylinder. This is a design that is useful to prevent motor home kitchen drawers from sliding out when moving but is a bit of a pain especially with cutlery drawers. Also the soft close drawer slides have a learning curve when installing them as they cannot be too tight or too loose. We have in the past had to retrain our professional cabinet installers the skill of soft close installation.
Some companies hide things in odd areas so that thier claims seem reliable but looking at other areas usually reveals the truth Here is an example taken from shelves that slide website on Feb 7 2015
We refuse to choose lower cost ball bearing slides even though some customers may mistakenly think they are superior. The reality is ball bearing slides will get gummed up after years of use in a kitchen. They will then lose balls and cease to work.
If you choose the ball bearing slides option, the slides and their attachment is limited to 5 (five) years warranty.
Bottom line is that ball bearing slides have been successfully used in cabinet applications for decades and will most likely continue. Again, some companies want to be authorities because they have been in business for a certain amount of time but if you continue to rely on what worked 20 years ago you may not be knowledgable enough in todays world
Our made to fit slide outs are available in 3 bottom styles 1/4" clear coated baltic birch ply or 1/4" melamine in white or maple. The melamine bottoms are probably similar to what your current kitchen drawers have. The Medium Density Fiberboard mdf has a high tensile strength and a smooth surface which is an ideal bottom for our slide out shelves. Our slide outs have a slot 1/2" up from the bottom of the sidewalls that the bottom fits into and when the sidewalls are glued and nailed together this gives the shelves a strong captured box but there are limitations to everything and we feel that in order to have our shelves look good for years to come there are times when you need to help prevent the natural sagging that comes with age. So any of our made to fit shelves that are 24" or wider will receive a stiffener under the shelf bottom. This stiffener is 1/2" baltic birch that sits in the 1/2" void under the shelf bottom so it typically is not visible. The stiffener is 1 1/2" wide and on wider slide out shelves we will typically put 2 stiffeners under the drawer bottom.
Rabbet Joint Construction:
We use rabbet joints or lap joint in the construction of our made to fit slide out shelves. This method is produced with a router that cuts out 1/4" or half the thickness of the birch board 1/2" wide. We do this cut on the front and back of the slide out shelf which allows the shelf sides to slide in and not revel the plys.
This drawer can be made with either the end grain showing or not. The end grain showing method is common for drawers as there is a drawer front that covers the end grain of the board on the left but in shelves that slide we have no drawer front so by making the shelf with the left board being the front/back piece it gives the shelf a cleaner look.
We use Titebond glue and pneumatic nails to hold the joints together. This method was tested by woodworkers magazine and the tensile strength results were published in the Dec07/Jan 08 issue. The rabbet or lap joint tested at over 1000 lbs tensile strength. More than any slide out shelf for kitchen cabinets would need.
Dadoed Bottom Joint:
We use a dadoe joint to contain our drawer bottoms. This slot is cut halfway through the sidewalls so the 1/4" bottom material has a solid base to sit with enough material so the bottom doesn't slip out giving our shelves added strength.
Slide Out Shelves LLC is more than a drawer maker we also make and install kitchen cabinets in the Prescott Arizona area. This gives us that added insight into the design and construction methods of kitchen and pantry cabinets . If you live in the Prescott area and need cabinetry for your home please visit our sister site We Organize-U