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Space invaders

Make a drawer on castor wheels for neat, tidy and easy storage space. Clifford Roberts and woodworker Andries Eygelaar demonstrate how

If you have too little storage space, the solution is obvious – get rid of stuff.
However, you might be able to make better use of space in your home.


We’ve always kept bags and things under our bed, but it’s generally untidy and dusty.
What we really needed was a clean place to store our seasonal clothes, such as winter jerseys
during summer, and summer clothes in winter.


Our solution was to make a set of drawers to fit under the bed. Fitted with castors, each drawer
can easily be accessed. This solution is quick and cheap to make, and by ensuring a neat finish,
also quite a showpiece. It can also be used for spaces under free-standing cupboards, lounge chairs or sideboards. With some innovation, you can even turn the drawer into a multipurpose ottoman in your lounge.


This simple construction can be made with all kinds of different materials. If you opt for SupaWood, your local timber merchant will probably provide the portions in the specific dimensions you require. We used 20mm thick SA pine shelving planks for the sides, 9mm plywood for the base and lid, and pine strips on which to rest the lid. Plywood is generally sold in large sheets – ours measured 2 440 x 1 220mm – and you’ll have to cut it to size.


The entire construction is held together by 16 chipboard screws and 25mm clout nails, which are used to fix the base in place. Screws are also an option here.


Step-by-step guide

Step 1: Your first step is to measure the cavity under your bed. Remember, your drawer will sit atop castors, so you’ll have to keep this in mind while making measurements. When selecting the castors you want, consider that bigger, rubberised castor wheels roll smoother, can carry more weight and are less likely to leave marks on the floor.

We opted for a castor wheel of 50mm without a built-in brake, which we deemed unnecessary. We bought four castors for our drawer, measuring 1 155 x 580mm at the base. Your dimensions will differ according to your needs, but be aware that the bigger your drawer, the more castors you are likely to need to carry the weight – especially if you plan to store books or other heavy belongings.


Step 2: Now you can begin to assemble the basic frame of the drawers. In addition to the size of the base above, our drawer is 215mm deep. We used an extra pine plank to divide the large single compartment in two to add a little order to the storage space. You can create more compartments or have a single, large one, depending on your specific requirements.


Step 3: Before you fix them in place, however, you might consider cutting the square rebate into the edge that will take the plywood base. This is easier than doing it after assembly, but means that you’ll have to glue a small, square stopper at the end of each rebate.


Step 4: Now, mark the upright edge of the planks where you’ll drill for screws to hold the frame together. We used three on each corner and two for the centre plank. At each mark, use a spade drill bit that’s a little wider than the head of your screws to create a recess extending halfway into the plank. The recess will take the screw and will then be filled with a wood plug as a neat way to hide the head. You might also consider using a drill stand – this will make sure that the hole is drilled uniformly and straight. Before screwing each joint in place, run some cold wood glue where the planks meet to help create a strong bond.


Step 5: Once the frame has been constructed, turn it on its head and slot the plywood into the rebate. Fix it to the base with the clout nails. We also used plywood for the lid, which we preferred not to attach with a hinge, but rather to make it removable. To do this, we fixed a strip to the inside of the frame with more clout nails. The strip must sit about 10mm below the top in such a way that the lid is flush with the rim when it is closed. If you wish, you can run the strip partly down each side or, alternatively, the full length, in which case you’ll need to create an angled join in the corners where they meet.


Step 6: To make it easy to open the lid, we added finger holes using a Forstner drill bit. As a tip to save you time: take a scrap plywood strip that measures the approximate length of the lid. Determine the centre and cut your holes in the scrap piece. You can then use this as your template, simply placing the plank in the position required for the holes and marking where they should be without continuously having to take out the tape measure.


Use sandpaper to round off any sharp edges and you can use a curved router bit to smooth off the edges of the finger
holes too.


Step 7: Once done, you’ll also need to fix handles to the side of the drawer so that you can pull it out from under the bed. Before you can use it, however, you’ll need to sand the interior to make sure the surfaces are smooth and won’t hook the thread on a jersey or the like.


Step 8: You also need to make the plugs to cover the screw heads. We used a plug and dowel cutter drill bit, again on a drill stand. The plug should fit snugly into the recesses you’ve cut. When you’ve got enough, make sure that when you insert the plug, the grain direction matches that of the plank. This way the plug will become even less visible when you’re finished. Use a little wood glue to keep each plug in place.


Step 9: You might want to varnish the outside; we painted ours. With that done, you can simply drop in a couple of mothballs and you’re ready to store whatever you want until you need it again.

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