Under the Sink Organization with an “H” Shelf

Here is my second “all by myself” project! I saw this project online and thought this would be a good one for me to attempt. Not only does building something make me feel accomplished, but I figure that the more I try, use tools, experiment, etc., the better I will get… so I’m trying to keep my eyes open for cool (yet simpler) projects.

This project makes an “H” shelf to go under your sink. The underneath of our kitchen sink is unorganized and there is a lot of wasted space, so this shelf seemed like it would be a good help. Because you have pipes and/or a disposal under your sink that take up a lot of space, usually you have to just put your stuff wherever it will fit. Typically, organization is not that feasible!


This shelf solves the storage problem by building an “h-shaped” shelf (I bet you didn’t guess that one!) to sit in front of your under-sink plumbing, and offer two levels of storage. Let me walk you through what I did.

First of all, I printed the awesome plans from Ana White’s website. I used her plans but modified them to fit my needs.

What I needed:

-1″x10″ board (8 footer)
**The bigger number on this board will be your depth, so you will need to measure your specific sink. Measure from the as far back as a shelf would be able to sit (in front of piping) and measure to the edge of the cabinet before the doors.
-Spare 1×6 wood
**This is for the backing. Plywood was recommended.
-1-1/4″ long construction screws

an 8 foot 1×10

I started off using my measurements from under the sink and marking where to cut on the boards. I almost made a big mistake, and I’m so glad I didn’t cut too quickly. I was planning on making two shelves, one for each side of the sink. My measurements were 17 inches tall and 15 inches across. I had measured these specific measurements on the 1×10 and marked them with lines. Then, I realized something. If you picture the letter H, the thickness of the two legs of the H need to be counted in the width measurement of the across bar/shelf. Whoops!

Ana White even says it in her directions… guess I should be reading these better. 😉 Anyways, as you can see above, the width of the legs (which is .75″ each) needs to count into your width of the shelf. Since you have two .75″ sides, you’ll need to subtract 1.5 inches from the total width you are wanting and cut that size. (Example: if the width for what you want is 20 inches, you will want to cut your actual shelf’s length to be 18.5 inches).

I made just a few mistakes in measuring! 🙂

So, once I recalculated, I cut four 17″ pieces for the legs of my two shelves, and two 13.5″ pieces for the shelves (the 15 inches I wanted minus 1.5 inches).

I did have to sand the edges… they were pretty rough.

Next, I clamped down the shelf and screwed the legs into the sides. I had measured the height of items I wanted to be able to store (in this first shelf’s case, Clorox wipes, lysol spray, etc.) and put the shelf at that height.

The pencil mark shows the height where I wanted the shelf to be.
The clamp helped keep the wood in place so I could put pressure into screwing in the sides.

I used a level to make sure the sides matched up well.

Next was adding some backing to the shelf. Now, this is up to you. You can leave the shelf without a back. I thought about it, because our sink does go back a decent bit further behind the pipes and the disposal and we could reach back there without any backing. But, I decided to add some anyways. Why not? 😉

The instructions recommended plywood, probably because it’s so thin. I opted for some pieces of 1×6 that we had laying around. I cut them to the width of the shelf and screwed them in.

One problem I ran into (besides the above lovely splitting of the wood) was that I didn’t think about the fact that adding 1×6 wood adds 3/4″ of thickness to the depth of the shelf. (Remember: 1″ thickness of wood really measures 3/4″) My shelf being 9.25″ deep (the default width of the 1×10 wood) was about the most it should have been, so adding the 3/4″ was too much. The top shelf hit our disposal and wouldn’t fit… it was several millimeters off.

I decided to just take off the top piece of wood backing, where it hit the disposal. Thankfully, the shelf then fit like a charm.

I did the most of the same as above for the second shelf. The only differences I did here were 1) I had to cut off part of the side so that our disposal switch could be accessible and 2) I made the shelf a little lower.

Using a table saw to cut out the section for the disposal switch.

I put both shelves in, and they fit great!! I put everything from under the sink back on the shelves.

It’s pretty cool to have two levels of storage space close to the cabinet doors, so you don’t have to reach all the way to the back to find things.

This is such a cool way to get personalized shelving according to what you need under your sink. I didn’t paint or stain the wood, and there are several spots where I split the wood when I screwed the screws in. Total rookie stuff! Luckily, all the stuff on the shelves hides these imperfections, and I’m going to leave the shelves as-is, unless they start to bother me. 🙂

A fun little before and after swiping!


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