Create more storage in a closet with easy-to-build custom shelves you can install yourself.
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The shelves described here were created to fit the closet shown. For shelves to fit the size and shape of your closet, refer to Shelf Measuring Guide.
On a sheet of 3/4-in birch plywood, lay out the dimensions and shape of the shelf (A). Using a table saw or a circular saw and straightedge, first cut out the overall shape of the shelf without the notch that creates the L shape. Use a circular saw to cut most of the distance toward the inside corners. Then switch to a jigsaw to complete the cuts. Smooth the surfaces with 120-grit and then 180-grit sandpaper. Repeat for the remaining shelves.
Determine the best side of the plywood panel before laying out your cuts. For a table saw, cut with the best side facing up. If you’re using a circular saw, lay out the shelf shape and cut with the best side down.
Cut the side trim (B) and front trim (C) to length. Sand the faces and edges smooth with 120-grit and 150-grit sandpaper.
Glue and nail the side trim to the plywood with the top edge flush with the plywood face. Hold it in place with #16 x 1-1/4-in brads. Then glue and nail the front trim (C) in place. Sand the trim flush with the plywood as needed. Repeat for the remaining shelves.
Putty over the nail holes and sand smooth. Then apply two coats of paint (Homestead Resort Tea Room Cream shown) to each shelf.
Mark the shelf heights you want within your closet (marks will indicate the underside of the shelf). Allow sufficient space between the shelves to drop them into place and avoid placing the top shelf so high that there’s too little clearance between the front shelf edge and the top of the closet doorway.
Using a level and straightedge, extend the shelf location marks around the inside of the closet for each shelf. Use an electronic stud finder to locate and mark the centers of wall studs along your shelf location lines.
Cut 3/4-inch square dowels to length for mounting cleats on each wall. Paint each cleat to match your shelves.
After the paint dries, mark nailing locations on each cleat, drill 1/16-in pilot holes, and nail just beneath the shelf lines.
Starting at the bottom, tilt a shelf into the closet and rest it on the mounting cleats. Repeat for the remaining shelves.
By using 3/4-in square dowels, the mounting cleats will appear to blend in with the front and side trim.