Staircase Drawers !




About: I am a maker and here I am sharing the fun stuff of making and creating! Apart from fun my goal is to share knowledge and acquire it. My topics are woodworking, metalworking, maybe some composites, electron...

Before we hit off, I want to say this project was really Really cool to do and I am happy how it went. This project was not easy but patience goes a long way!

I hope you can enjoy this!

If you are interested, I have plans available from my webshop (read Etsy). You can find it via:


Step 1: Design

So this actually is a comissioned piece of furnitture by a customer. He set an interesting goal for this project although at first it did not seem this way.

This kind of storage is hip and happening with tiny living and efficient storage. But I think this will be more and more executed because it does add value to a small space. More and more of us live in cities and have less space on average.

The drawers could only be effectively installed from the front of the staircase. On top af that two drawers had an compound or angled frontface. This made measuring challenging. the trick here was measure the strairtreds carfefully and check the angles of the faces. You had to be careful with measuring because you could make a 'stackable measuring error'. you make one measuring and followup another measurement without any good reference. Making it possible to have two errors in one measuring.

Step 2: Draft

Normally I wouldn't emphasize on making drafts for projects on Intructables but this was essential for this project. Because of the angled front sides and and limited drawer height.

So as I mentioned, the drawers could only be (easily) installed from the front side. The drawers with their housing/frame needed to be shoved 'in' the stairs from the front. This made that you lose storage space from the frame, drawer mechanics and drawer wall thickness.

So in this case all the parts need to have a certain tolerance on their dimensions. Making drawings and drafts made is easy for me to keep track of that and the placement of the specific parts.

Step 3: Cutting Sheets

So the first praktical step was cutting sheets of 9mm (3/8") and 12 mm (1/2") to long strips of wood and 3 drawer bottoms. The drawer bottoms were trapeziodal of shape so that was the trickiest one to cut. Having a track saw does make that a lot more precise and repeatable. It's not essential.

The strips could be made with a parallel fence on your average hand held circular saw. To be honest this is my favorite tool because of simplicity and speed of cutting. Mine isn't even that fancy, It cost me only 100 euro's.

Step 4: Dimensioning Parts

As I said earlier, the parts have a quite specific tolerance, +-0.5mm (1/50") on length dimensions. So after cutting I checked my strips of wood (measuring on 3 to 4 point, the width) and shorthened them with a miter saw. Again this is convenient for repeatability and speed. You could work with a circular saw or handsaw. In my experience, with a little practice a handsaw can be precise. saves you a trip to the gym :p
Its a joke I tell my colleagues.

Step 5: Assembling Frames

So after hours of sawing and breathing dust I focussed on putting the frames together.

I used glue and pinnails to keep the parts together. The 9mm (3/8") tops and bottoms go 'on' the 12mm (1/2") sides. The nails go into the edges of the sides and the faces of the tops/bottoms. The tops/bottoms actually consist of strips and not of full sheets. This saves weight and material.

Later on the corners will be reinforced with drawer rails.

Step 6: Assembling Drawers

The drawers very much go together like the frames. Glue and nails do the job. The sides are thicker plywood and the fron/back and bottoms are of the thin plywood.

The video doesn't show this but the inside corners were reinforced as well. Given this does eat up effective space but this prolongs the lifespan of the drawer. Materials always degenerate in strength over time, this varies ofcourse between different woods and engineered woods like plywood. Steel for examples does degenerate but will keep a certain level, aluminium degenerates continuesly.

Step 7: Drawer Rails

The drawers will be supported by hardwood slide bearings. Rails if you will. The rails were cut to 18 mm (3/4") square.

I used Meranti (PEFC certified) for this. I am not perticular happy about this I much rather use maple, beech or oak from the Netherlands where I live but this is difficult to obtain compared to the meranti.

Step 8: Attaching Rails

So the rails were attached in the corner of the frame. Then with a correct spacing to the drawer. In a fashion that the drawer is supported with an airgap between the bottom and top of the frame.

After that the third rail is attached to the frame, spaced with the thickness of a rail + 1mm (about 1/32") from the rail in the corner.

To maintain the sliding parrafin (candle light material) wax can be applied.

Step 9: Test

This is not the step you want to skip. Very important to check the spacing and functioning. It was a mighty statisfying moment to see the drawers actually work with the tolerances and precision :)

Step 10: Fronts

The drawer fronts or faces were made from preprimed MDF. This material is quickly finished to a high end look.

A retangular recess was made in the front to function as a grip or handle. This was elegant and space saving in my opinion.

Step 11: Install!

To make the drawers go in I had to remove the backboards of the stairs. I had hoped I could screw them loose or pry it neatly, but i had to hammer it through.

And then the most stressful moment... Will it fit?

Luckily it did, my measurements and careful work did pay off. I could shove the drawer frames in and then the drawers.

Step 12: Securing

The drawer frames were screwed to the stair stringers. And to each other with panels of wood.
Between the drawer frames I put a filler piece to account for the thickness of the stairtred. The frames rest on each other and not on the stairs.

Step 13: Attaching Fronts

And as final step I attached the fronts first with hot glue and then 5 screws from the inside of the drawer.

I made sure the fronts had an even airgap in relation to the stairs. 2mm or 1/6".

Step 14: Be Satisfied

Projects which are difficult will always go wrong, even this project had a few scrapped parts or steps which took long.

The thing is you can determine yourself how much dissappointed you are with that. In the end, have patience and it will work as you want.

Thank you for reading! I hope it will inspire you!



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    37 Discussions


    12 months ago

    ik weet wat ik ga doen dit weekend. Briljant.

    Why did you use the hardwood rails? I'd expect that would give more friction than say a pvc bar, even with the wax?


    1 year ago

    Impressive. I enjoyed the video.

    What is the substance you painted the MDF with -- to prime the edges? I can't hear what you're saying there, and have had problems with priming and painting MDF edges. (Usually, we use the tape edging that glues on with an iron.)

    2 replies
    Sebastiaan MollemaSoose

    Reply 1 year ago

    Oh that is thick primer or pva glue with some water. Thank you!

    SooseSebastiaan Mollema

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks for the answer. Will try it. We have tried sanding sealer with poor results.


    Question 1 year ago

    ¿What do you suggest for a metal staircase?

    2 answers
    Sebastiaan Mollemamarvelmx

    Answer 1 year ago

    Just as igaman describes, you could make two sections of drawers. And you could make 1 big frame or cabinet from it. In my situation I had to make the smaller frames.


    Answer 1 year ago

    On the left side ... make the top 2 (or 3 depending on the height - it may be hard to look in the drawer on the 3rd one) into shelves. The next 3 (or 2 if you made the top 3 shelves) make into drawers. Use these steps to help brace it from tipping out Below that you can make a cabinet with pull out shelves, a place for shoes when you come home, put a hanging rod for coats, or a dog bed if you have a dog(that part is up to you).

    On the right side ... make the bottom 3 steps into drawer.

    Make support braces like in the video between steps. Install the right side first. On the left, you can subtract some material from the sides (or top and bottom) of the drawer boxes (not the drawers) to attach every thing together. Subtracting from the sides mean that you can use 1 long piece on each side down the whole front. That is if you don't make 1 big box that you just slide in there.

    Good Luck!


    Question 1 year ago

    Very nice instructable! Do you have any thoughts on how to go about this if i don't have side/back access to the stairs? I'd have to rip out some drywall which is a big no go.

    1 answer
    Sebastiaan Mollemalolamatic

    Answer 1 year ago

    Well the design I made could be done with only acces from the front. You need to attach the drawer frames to the staircase from the front.


    Nice work. You could have dropped the music and talked thru the making of these draws would have been much nicer.

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    I always like making use of wasted space and stairwells are one of the big wasters of space. I use part of the space as a service duct for ventilation pipework and the space under a winding staircase makes for a secure hidey-hole for valuables.

    I fear that in the UK at least, you might fall foul of Building Regulations. Stairways are your means of escape in the event of fire and this needs to be taken into account.

    The leaving drawers open would also worry me. Having taken a tumble down stairs and getting a broken pelvis as a reward has left its mark. I would want to see some mechanism in place such rthat the closed drawer state is the default - better runners and tilted back to self close would help. The thought of treading down onto an open drawer doesn't bear thinking about.

    By turning the riser, a structural component, into a non-structural component, you are severely weakening the treads. I would like to see how much bow you get in the treads with the drawers removed. Your treads need to be structurally sound with the drawers removed.

    Not trying to be picky, but all aspects of a design need to be thought through

    1 reply
    Sebastiaan Mollemapgs070947

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hey thanks for the comment.
    The treads were 38mm hardwood so they do not really flex more than a 1mm. And the drawer frame provide support.
    A staircase with less material than this one would be a different case. Than steel angle iron would be handy to attach to the treads to make them more stiff.


    1 year ago

    What a great use of space! Between this and bookshelf stairs, I really want to makeover my entryway :D

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Hope the wife doesn't see this, or I'll have thirteen stair drawers to make! Nice job

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    This is pretty neat. Just loved it.