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Converting Drawers to Shelves

I saw a modification to another Santa Fe by Bill, better know as "Oz & Us" on the Pop Up Times / PopUp Explorer message boards.  He decided that the drawers in the Santa Fe were difficult to open and the drawer brackets broke too easily.  Take a look at his modification HERE.  Well I have to agree with him.  As I am on my second set of brackets already and they don't look too good.


An additional advantage to this project is that you will gain additional storage space as the drawer boxes and workings take up a lot of room.  An additional advantage I didn't think of was weight.  By the time I got done removing parts, I had over 20 pounds of "stuff" that was being taken out. I weighed the new shelf and parts I was using and it cam in at a very light 5 pounds.  So, I saved over 15 pounds!



All photos are thumbnails, click to see an enlarged version

Shelves1.jpg (32566 bytes)Step Number 1 is to remove the drawers.  There is a catch in the right rear of each drawer to keep it from coming all the way out.  Remember to disengage it or you will be fighting with the drawer.  Don't ask how I know.



Shelves2.jpg (23018 bytes)After you get the drawers out, turn them over and remove the 7 screws holding the decorative front on the drawer box.  Three of these are designed to hold the front on and four of them are holding the handles on the front of the drawer.  You will need to get 8 new handle bolts, as the old ones will be too long once they no longer go through the drawer box wall.  The replacements should be 3/4"  long.


Shelves3.jpg (25388 bytes) Here is the cabinet with all of the hardware removed.  Note I also removed the doors on the ajoining cabinet, as I didn't want to work around them.  Additionally, my new shelf is designed to be four feet long, which will extend past the right hand door.  Once you get all of the hardware out of the way, set your straight edge on the to of wooden divider that was between the drawers.  Extend the straight edge to the rear and mark the shelf location on the rear wall.


Shelves4.jpg (15427 bytes)I was originally going to screw cleats (hanging brackets)  to the walls inside the cabinet and then set the shelf on top of them.  Thinking about it I decided to cut the shelf to length and then attach the cleats to the bottom of the shelf before I put it in the cabinet.  If you look closely at this photo of the bottom of the shelf you will note the 1 X 2 pine I used for the cleats.  It was attached to the shelf with wood glue and finish nails.  While I used an air nailer, standard finish nails would also work.  Also note the two notches I had to make in the shelf to go around trim inside of the stock cabinet.  The finished size of this shelf is 14 3/4" X 48".  Remember when cutting the luan plywood, cut from the bottom and it helps if you put a strip of masking tape along the length of the cut you will make on the finished side.  Cut through the tape to keep the finished side from splintering


Shelves5.jpg (23511 bytes) Here is a photo of the shelf once it was installed.  Not it goes past the original drawer openings to the left, entirely filling the space of the right hand cabinet door next to the original drawers.  Once the shelf was in place i installed an end on the shelf to keep objects from sliding off the left side of the shelf into the cabinet below.  If you pre drilled the cleats it is easy to slid the shelf into the opening (cabinet door opening, not the drawer opening).  Hold the shelf in place and run the screw into the paneling.  Pick screws that will not extend very far past the paneling.  You don't want a screw through an electrical wire, or worse yet through the side of the pop up.


Shelves6.jpg (20031 bytes) Here is the finished look.  I attached each drawer front with 2 stock Coleman hinges.  I tried to find the same hinges at Home Depot, but no luck.  Additionally I put a magnetic catch behind each new drop down door to hold it in place.  I recommend that you pre-drill pilot holes for all screws you are going to put in.  This will keep the wood from splitting. I may add an additional magnetic catch to each door at a later time.


Shelves7.jpg (23991 bytes) Here is a photo of the bottom door open (I keep wanting to call it a drawer).  I did not add any shelving to the bottom area, deciding to place objects directly on the flooring.  Pay attention to what you place here as the bottom of the cabinets are not sealed.  If your floor gets wet, water can run under the cabinet and get on whatever you store in this area.  Whe you open this door the handles rest on the pop up floor


Shelves8.jpg (20779 bytes) The top shelf is now home to our towels and linens.  I did not put a chain or other device to keep the door from opening all the way.  I may go back at a later time and change this.  I want a couple of trips under my belt first to see how it works out.  Right now it swings down against the lower door.

Parts List

4 - Coleman door hinges

1 - 1" X 2" pine (used as the cleats/bracket)

1 - 2' X 4' 1/4" Luan plywood (clear on one side for the shelf)

10 - 1 1/4" drywall screws

Finish nails of several lengths

8 - 3/4" bolts to replace the drawer pull bolts.  Take an old one with you to match the size.

Tool List

Circular Saw, Miter saw, 3 foot straight edge, screw gun with Phillips tip


   Revised: May 08, 2007

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