How to Fill a Kitchen Cabinet Void From a Trash Compactor Removal

Trash compactors are free-standing appliances.

Trash compactors are free-standing appliances.

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A trash compactor seemed like a good idea at the time. But after a few years, you got tired of the noise, or the machine failed completely. So you've finally decided it's time to move on, get back to basics and remove that dinosaur. Most compactors are free-standing and easy to remove. The problem is that it leaves a hole, or void. Not to worry. You have options for the resulting space

Dimensions and Fillers

Trash compactors come in three different widths: 12-, 15- and 18-inch, with the 15-inch the most widely used. If you have custom cabinets, chances are that the compactor opening was custom-made, and the sides of the opening are part of the adjoining face frames on each side of the compactor. If you have modular cabinets, or your compactor was installed after the fact, the sides of the opening may or may not have fillers that are removable. If there are screw holes on the cabinet face frames on each side of the opening, use a drill/driver to remove them, and the fillers will drop off to open the void a few more inches. You may be able to gain up to 6 inches or more in width. Typical trash compactors slide under the countertop without interfering with it.

Toe-Kick

Because most trash compactors are free-standing, when you remove them, there's no cabinet base and you're looking down at the floor covering. To properly fill the void, make a small toe-kick base just like your existing cabinets. The toe-kick is the 3-by-3-inch notch around the perimeter of the cabinets at the bottom. Cut four pieces of 3/4-by-3-inch pine and nail together a rectangular frame that fits on the floor inside the void. Cut and nail a piece of 3/4-inch particleboard or plywood to the top of the toe-kick base to serve as the bottom shelf. Open the doors on your other cabinets and use their toe-kick base dimensions for reference if you get confused. The only measurement that's important is the depth of the toe-kick base, meaning that the front of the base should flush with the front of the bases on both sides.

Door

Once your toe-kick base is in place, install a door on the opening. Measure the length and width of the opening and add 1 1/2-inches to both measurements. This means that the door will be 3/4 inch bigger than the opening on all four sides. Order or build a door to the measurements, taking special care to order the door according to how it's hinged. Some doors have special edges and special hinges. They're nothing fancy, but in order for your door to match the existing doors, get the right edge and hinge on the door. After the door is finished to match your existing cabinets, hang it on the opening. You now have a single opening with a door. It's large enough to accommodate a plastic trash can that you can move out or in whenever it's full. Or you can use the space for larger objects such as tall bags of dried goods or even tools.

Shelf or Dividers

If your opening is 18 inches or more, you have room for a shelf just like other cabinets. Start by measuring the depth of the opening. Cut two pieces of 3/4-by-3/4-inch pine for cleat supports. Measure up from the top of the toe-kick base to the top of the opening, divide it in half and screw the cleats to the cabinets on each side of the opening. Measure and cut a shelf from 3/4-inch plywood or particleboard to fit on top of the cleats. Another option is cookie sheet dividers. Make a cookie sheet divider by first removing the toe-kick base. Cut 1/4-by-1/2-inch-deep slots or dadoes parallel to each other, 2 inches apart along the length of the base using a table saw and dado blade. Cut 1/4-by-22-by-22-inch plywood pieces and glue them into the slots, creating individual slots to stand cookie sheets up on their edges. Dividers can also be installed under a shelf. Another option is to purchase dividers, bins, drawers or just about any other configuration of plastic or vinyl container that slides into the opening to fill the void.

About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.

Photo CreditsJupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

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