Friday, January 23

Easy Shelves You Can Build Yourself

Easy Shelf Design For Multiple Shelf Use

Recently I finished painting my newest pantry shelves. The shelves were a combination of new and used wood.
When we purchased our small farm the kitchen had a small 4’ by 4’ pantry closet, (with 6 inch wide shelves, ugh) and later I converted another closet for pantry space.  But last year we did a complete kitchen remodel, going down to bare studs so I had to build a new pantry.

You may have read in another blog post of mine that I am no expert.
I am a trial and error kind of person and self taught, right or wrong.  My father was a wonderful carpenter and builder of things so I like to think I got a little bit of that from him.
Maybe from following him around a lot when I was little.

I use a pretty basic shelf design which can change slightly depending on the character or purpose of the shelving.  Storage shelves are more rustic and not always “perfect”. 
Book shelves get a little added trim and detail work and are put together with a more attention to ascetics.

Looking through photos of shelves I have constructed in the past made me realize I am sort of obsessed with shelving.  But in my own defense, I just think you can never have enough! If this is not something that rings a bell with you, try to compare it with “not enough shoes” or “never enough chickens or pets” or something similar.  I also have an issue with books so have to keep building shelves!

Closet converted to pantry storage before Kitchen remodel
Anyway, after skimming through photos, I’m started feeling like Sarah Winchester and the Winchester Mystery House. She is the woman who continually built rooms onto her house that she never used!  OK, I’m not that bad! I am using all my shelves.

Since purchasing our house I have built storage shelves, book shelves, laundry room shelves, garage shelves, gardening shed shelves, closet shelves and shelves for three pantries!
For this final pantry (yes, I am done building pantries!!) I had most of the needed supplies.  I do not like to throw away wood, so a lot of the wood for this project was leftover from the kitchen remodel or the old pantries.
Outside 8 ft pine boards with 3 ft shelves

I started with two 8 feet long by 10 inches wide pine boards for the frame (or outside boards).
I then attached 1” x 1” pieces of board (cut 10 inches wide) along the 8 foot outside boards.  These are the shelf support boards. (The support boards actually measure about 3/4 inch by 1 -1/4 inch.   Wood is no longer actually the sizes stated).

1" x 1" support boards holding shelves

I like to use drywall screws, and always pre-drill the holes.  The usual out come of not pre-drilling the nail or screw holes is splitting the wood. 

Under side view of support boards

Once the 1” x 1” x 10” shelf supports were in place I cut and attached the shelf boards.  I intend to put a lot of weight on these shelves so did not want to make them too wide. Too much weight without extra support and the shelf will bow.  I made my pantry shelves 3 foot wide. 

Front view of outside boards, support boards
and shelf board. 

Besides making them stronger, by making them 3 feet wide I could also just buy six foot long pine boards and cut them in half.
Once together I secured the shelf board to the shelf support. This the shelf boards from moving and makes the entire unit very stable. Also,  I held the entire shelving unit in place by running a screw through the shelf unit and into the pantry wall.  It is best to find a wall stud to fasten the shelving unit too so the shelves do not possibly become top heavy and fall over!

Second shelf unit joined with first.

I have also used this design to build book shelves when I remodeled a lower level room.
The wood for those shelves was salvaged old oak barn wood from a 1800's post and beam barn.

Book shelves in lower level made with the same design and from salvaged barn wood

I built my storage room shelves (holiday decorations and crafts) and cold storage room (Canning Jars) in the same manner, but with a slight difference.
For the storage room I used 2 x 4’s as the shelf supports and ¾ inch plywood cut in half long ways as the shelving because of the extra weight the shelves needed to support. I also used 2' x 4' boards for the sides instead of pine boards.

In the Cold Storage Room I used regular 10 inch wide 8 foot long pine boards for the shelves but used 2" x 4"’s for the supports here too.  The following photo also shows how I used 2' x 4' boards for the sides instead of pine boards.

Cold Storage shelves for canning jars

Painting is optional for any storage shelves you build, but I usually like mine painted.  I use a semi-gloss paint because it holds up better than flat and is easy to clean. 

Once my new pantry closet shelves were complete I used paintable caulk to cover or fill any flaws, nicks or dents in the wood as well as cover up the screw holes.
Paint and caulk can go a long way to cover mistakes and imperfections, let me tell you!

Caulk will cover holes and flaws

I completely painted all the shelving with one coat of paint, let it dry overnight and then did a little touch up paint or added a second paint coat where needed. 

Painted and ready for stocking

As a last minute idea I decided to add a wine rack!  Click here for instructions on a simple basic Wine Rack.  (post coming soon)


Don’t have a pantry?  Not to worry, any closet or area can be turned into one, and many empty nesters are turning their really small extra bedrooms into a first laundry / pantry room.  Our original kitchen even had a small closet built in one corner for a pantry! If space is limited build one in the basement or garage.  Just make sure there’s an even temperature year round so jars will not freeze in winter or overheat in summer. 

I'd really love to hear if you built shelves yourself, the design you used or just see photos of your pantry! 


Other Building Projects:

Installing a Chair Rail and Kitchenette

Salvaging Old Barn Wood

Building a Chicken Coop

Lower Level storage room shelves


Anonymous said...

Good day! I know this is kinda off topic however I'd figured I'd ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa? My website covers a lot of the same subjects as yours, and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free to send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Excellent blog by the way!

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Send me a email with info and address on your blog and I'll take a look and think it over. Thanks for the offer!

Anonymous said...

I need to do that! Heidi

Anonymous said...

You're so awesome! I don't suppose I've read through another blog like this before. So nice to find somebody with a few unique thoughts and ideas. These shelves are do-able!! Seriously.. thanks!

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Thanks so much, that's a lot of compliments in one comment! They are very much appreciated! The shelves were born out of necessity and have evolved over time. Glad to know I wrote this up in such a way that someone can follow the directions and want to try to build them. That's what counts to me. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Love it sis. Kathryn Wright

Anonymous said...

You always do a great job in all of your projects. I love it. Julie Leach

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Thanks guys love you

Anonymous said...

I want to make something like this for my basement. Kathryn Wright

Anonymous said...

You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find building things to actually be something which I think I will never understand. It seems too complicated and very hard for me. But having the step by step directions, for the first time I think I may be able to build something.
Who doesn't need shelves?! I'm looking forward for your next
building or DIY post, and I'll try to get the hang of it!

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Listen, I am no expert. My work is not perfect that's for sure. But give it a try. Make something small and use scrap wood. For me, practice made something acceptable (mine is never perfect).
And thanks for the encouraging comments everyone!