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Microwave Stand Hack


More that twenty years ago, my father built a microwave stand for me, when I moved out of the house. Back then in the late 80s, microwaves were still pretty new, just beginning to become mainstream. They were large, and usually brown. So my dad built me a pretty typical (for the time) dark oak stand. There were cabinets down below, a pair of drawers, and a little bit of open "counter" space, and then the microwave mounted on a shelf up above.

(My apologies for not having a "before" photo. The best I can suggest is to look at the final picture below and imagine it without those two top drawers.)

Twenty years later we're still using the same microwave. I had to replace a fuse once, but otherwise it still just keeps ticking along. Same with the stand. It still is solid and functional.

But one thing that has been grating on us the past few years is the open counter space under the microwave. The way our house is arranged, the stand is tucked just out of the main kitchen area, and this open counter tends to collect clutter. I'd like to blame the kids, but I'll just say that "someone" just keeps stashing stuff there "for a moment", and before you know it there is a pile of junk pushed back in there.

What I'm finding is that open shelves tend to be the messiest form of storage in a home with an active family. Lately I am far more a fan of drawers and cabinets for storage in all areas of the house.

So we hit on the idea of closing up the space and fitting in a pair of drawers. Just a basic pair of drawers were called for, this was functional basic furniture. It was a simple matter to remove the shelf in the back and fit a pair of panels into the opening, to square up the side set-back.

Some hardwood runners were also glued and nailed into these panels, for the drawers to slide on.

Next I built a couple of drawers to fit on these runners. These are both from scrap wood laying around the shop. If you think the sides look extra thick, that is because they were mostly built from some 2x pine waterbed frames that I pulled out of the trash one day. The wood was free, nice and light, and thick enough to take a dado for these drawer runners and still have plenty of strength left over.

The front of the drawers is a veneer of 1/4" red oak plywood, stained to match the microwave stand.

One thing we thought to provide is a pull-out shelf to hold the occasional pot or spoon as we moved dishes into and out of the microwave. This is the simplest thing -- it is just a big board that slides on the old counter top. A few hardwood strips on the inserted plywood sides (see the first photos above) keep it from tipping up.

It's pretty large, at nearly 25" square. Since I needed to glue up some stock anyway, I decided to get creative. The majority of it is some soft maple. In between, I glued in strips of cherry, and in the center was a leftover piece of red African Padauk from another project. Gives it a fancy touch, I think.

And that's about it. Hopefully this gives us lots of good service and helps keep down the clutter.


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