Turn an old wall cabinet into a beautiful DIY Tilt-Out Trash Can! Complete tutorial takes you through exactly how to upcycle an old piece.
After my kitchen remodel, I was left with a bunch of old, dirty, dingy cabinets. They were kind of disgusting, and I really, really wanted to drag them down to the curb and let somebody take them away.
But my dad convinced me cabinets are useful, and since I had the space, I should keep them in the basement just in case I found a use for them one day.
He was right. Not even six months later, and I’m ready to turn one of them into a fancy trash can.
Truthfully, a short and stubby base cabinet would probably be prefect for this project. But I only had one of those, and it was already in use in the basement.
So I decided to grab one of the many wall cabinets for this project instead. My trash can table is a little skinny and tall, but hey, it works for the space, right?
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- Cabinet- I used a wall cabinet because that was what I had, but a base cabinet would work too!
- Trash Can- Since my cabinet was so small, I had to work pretty hard to find a trash can that fit inside the cabinet. I ended up with this one. If you have a larger cabinet, this is less of an issue.
- 1″ x 2″ Furring Strip- For the door.
- Beadboard- For the door and sides
- 1″ x 12″ (or appropriate size wood)- This is to make the “top” of the cabinet and the supports for the trash can inside the cabinet. I used a 1″ x 12″ plus a piece of furring strip to cover the top. Use what works for your cabinet.
- Pair of Hinges
- Cabinet Pull
I know that was a lot for a cabinet that looks so simple! If you need some help getting this (or other) projects organized, check out my FREE Project Planning Worksheet below!
Given that I live an hour away from the home improvement store, I use it all the time to make sure I get everything I need for a project when I go shopping.
DIY Tilt-Out Trash Can
Step 1: Add Beadboard to Cabinet Sides
I started with a 15″ wide wall cabinet:
I cut some beadboard left over from my thrift store desk project to fit the sides of the cabinet. They attached to the sides of the cabinet quickly using wood glue and brad nails.
Most beadboard furniture has a frame that goes around the beadboard section. I had some quarter inch plywood that I could have cut down to make a frame, but since I don’t have a table saw, it would have been a lot of work.
I decided it looked fine without a frame, and moved on.
Step 2: Make Door
Since the door was front and center of the piece, I decided it did need a frame, plus that would add some stability to the door.
I made the frame out of 1 x 2 furring strips, cutting them so the frame (and therefore entire door) would measure 1/4” less than the opening. In this case, my opening measured 32 1/2” x 11 1/2”, so I made my frame measure 32 1/4” x 11 1/4”.
At each joint in the frame I used wood glue and a single screw. I used a 2” screw and screwed it from the outside edge of the frame into the joint.
This was a bit tricky to do since the wood is so thin. Next time, I think I would go ahead and attach the joints using a pocket hole jig.
Finally, I attached a beadboard panel to the frame using wood glue and brad nails.
Step 3: Paint
While I could paint the piece once it was fully assembled, painting now means I don’t have to avoid the hardware, hinges, or other parts that don’t need to be painted. And I am always in favor of making things easier for myself!
I painted this piece using plain old latex paint. “But what about chalk paint?” you ask.
While I enjoy admiring all the vintage furniture flips I find on pinterest, the chalk paint look is actually not what I was going for in my office. I like the semi-gloss look of typical latex paint much better for that room.
In this particular case, I went with Behr’s Polar Bear White, if you were curious. Plus, there were a number of holes in the cabinet that needed to be filled with wood filler and sanded down anyway, so it wasn’t really a big deal to do a quick sanding with my sander before painting the piece.
Step 4: Add Trash Can Supports
The tilt-out trash can model relies on the trash can being attached to the door, and therefore tilting outward when the door opens. With this in mind, I designed a shelf that attaches to the door for the trash can to sit on.
This shelf has three main pieces: The base that the trash can sits on, and two side supports that connects the base to the door.
These were all cut from a 1″ x 12″. I believe the angle on the side pieces is around 37 degrees, but I wasn’t measuring too closely. Instead, I just made an angled cut that I thought looked good.
In fact, you don’t even have to make an angled cut here. Rectangular pieces will be just as (and maybe even more) structurally sound.
I drilled three pocket holes into the shorter sides of the side pieces (if you’re unsure how these work, check out my Kreg Jig Guide.) This will ultimately connect the supports to the door.
Try not to make your bottom hole too close to the edge. Once the bottom is attached, if the hole is too close to the bottom, it will be difficult to add the screw.
Then I connected the bottom to the sides using wood screws. Note that I’m not using the pocket holes here; they’re for connecting the supports to the door later.
Finally, I used the pocket holes I drilled earlier to connect the support to my door. I was super careful to make sure my supports were lined up with the furring strip frame on the door.
Step 5: Assemble
I started by attaching my door to the cabinet with the set of hinges I’d purchased. These are typical butt hinges that go between the bottom of the door and frame of the opening.
If you’ve never installed hinges before, look at the pictures below super carefully before you install. Hinges can be confusing, so make sure you understand where they go before you start!
At this point, the weight of the supports pulled the door a little to far into the cabinet, so I added a stop piece of wood inside the cabinet.
I attached it to the top of the cabinet with wood glue and screws
I attached my top pieces to the cabinet with brad nails and wood glue, nailing from the top down.
While the brad nails are visible, they’re small enough that they’re not super obvious if you’re just glancing at the piece. If they ever bother me, I can add wood filler to the holes to disguise the nails a bit more.
I did not add any screws, since I had no way to keep them invisible. I figure that gravity will hold the top in place. If in a few years I forget that it’s not screwed down, and accidentally pull the top off, I figure I’ll just fix it. That’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Finally, I attached the cabinet pull to the door, and called it done!
I don’t have a spare cabinet… where could I get one?
My local Habitat for Humanity Restore almost always has used cabinets in stock for very reasonable prices. All the Restores are different, so there’s no guarantee you’ll find them at the one in your area, but it’s worth checking out!
I love having a trash can in my office. This is a stupid thing to be excited about, I know, but I’ve gone a full month without one, so now it seems like a luxury.
And I have another place for a fake plant! I do love pretending I have plants…
This was an awesome use for one of the many cabinets that are cluttering up my basement, and I’m so glad I thought of it.