October 28, 2018

how to make closet shelves

In this tutorial, we'll walk through the process of how to build DIY closet shelves. When I moved into my fixer upper home in September of 2017, I had to gut a lot of the home and redo it. Hence, I tore down the old single shelf in each closet and am slowly re-doing them.

After doing a little research, I discovered how expensive pre-made diy closet storage can be. Similar sized closet shelving was in the $650 to $950 price range which was a bit more than I wanted to spend. Not to mention, after doing all three bedrooms and additional closets in the home I'd be spending thousands of dollars. Thus, it was worth it to make my own DIY closet shelving. The total cost for this eight foot wide closet storage system was $278 and my time. I enjoy DIY'ing and was able to make a custom sized unit that fit my exact space, and is exactly what I wanted.

Watch the diy closet shelf video tutorial for inspiration and to see the process

Hopefully this is helpful if you are looking for ideas to get your diy closet organized. Check out the diy closet Youtube video above to see the entire process from start to finish. This is a very do-able project that can be accomplished in a weekend. In this post I'll share some of the main steps and tools you'll need for this diy closet tutorial. If interested, the downloadable plans have a complete shopping list, cut list, prices, and detailed diagrams for each step. The diy closet plans are for an 8 foot wide shelving unit, but you can easily modify the width to make it fit in any diy closet.

Download DIY closet plans or draw up your own!

The first step on how to build a closet will be to determine the layout for your shelving. Measure the inside of your diy closet to see how much space you have to work with. I really liked the idea of doing off the floor shelving to have space below and so everything was up off the ground. The closet shelving plans can be downloaded here for $5. This goes to help support the website so I can continue to upload more new projects. Thanks so much for your support!
How to Make Closet Shelves

DIY Closet Shelving Tools

Over time, I've slowly acquired tools so I can build more types of projects. Here are the main tools used in the diy closet shelving build. They are available on Amazon and that is where I ordered the majority of items. Please note many of the products linked to in this post are affiliate links. That means if you end up clicking on a link and purchasing something, my website will get a small commission for the referral.  You'll be helping support more projects to be built on my website. Thank you for using the links for your tool purchases!

Safety Equipment

Clean out the closet

When I moved into the new home, all the camping and sports gear got thrown in a closet. I moved it into another room temporarily while I worked on the project. This gear needs a home on the new shelves desperately!

DIY closet shelving

Take measurements

My closet is 8 feet wide and has 8 foot ceilings. Measure your closet to get the exact sizing to build your diy closet organization system.

Make your cuts

The plans will show you the most efficient way to make your cuts and how to utilize each board. I cut the plywood to size using a circular saw and a Kreg cutting guide. Plywood is really hard to maneuver and handle when I don't have help, so cutting it down to size with this guide makes it easy.

diy shelf plans

Once the plywood is more manageable, I'll make some of the cuts on a table saw. If you don't have a table saw, you can make the cuts with a circular saw and a straight edge.

diy closet storage ideas

Assemble the units

For this modular closet build, we'll be making three units that will ultimately be connected once installed. I used a Kreg pocket hole jig and 1 1/4 inch long Kreg screws to connect each board. Set the tool for 3/4 inch thick stock.

how to make closet shelves

Attach the boards for each outer unit.

how to make closet shelves

Build the center unit. This is made similar to the two outer units, but the lower board is placed in from the end. A Kreg clamp will help hold the boards in place.

how to make closet shelves

Add adjustable shelving pin holes

I used a Kreg shelf pin jig to line up all the holes for adjustable shelves.

DIY closet shelf ideas

Attach trim

Attach trim boards to the front of each unit. An air nailer and 18 gauge nails works great for this process.

diy closet shelves ideas

Iron on edge banding

I used plywood edge banding to cover up the front faces of each shelf. Apply the banding with an iron. Next, let the banding cool. Then trim the excess using a sharp razor blade. You can lightly sand the area once applied.

how to apply edge band to plywood

Cut and install rods

I bought an 8 foot long nickel rod and cut it into two pieces. Use a cutoff blade or a hacksaw.

how to cut closet rod

Install the rod mounting hardware.

how to install a closet rod

Stain or add a finish

Apply a finish to your shelving units. I used Carbon Grey stain from Varathane. It went on somewhat thick but you are still able to see the wood grain. The color contrasts nicely with the white walls in my home. Apply with a rag and use a paint brush to get the stain in the hard to reach areas.

carbon grey varathane stain examples

Install the closet shelving

Use a stud finder to determine where the studs are in your wall.

how to hang closet shelves

Lift the shelving into place. Attach each unit to the wall using 3 or 3 1/2 inch long wood screws. Drill through the horizontal support board of the unit and into the stud in the wall. The units should be very solid once in place. I used JackClamps to lift the units in place. It made the process easy!  ( use code DIYPETE5 for $5.00 off a set of clamps )

how to hang shelves easily with jackclamps


Start organizing your clothing and other items in your new shelves. Congratulations on a job well done! I hope this tutorial helps or inspires you with your next shelving project. My goal was to show the simplest process of how to make closet shelves for your home. Please comment below about your plans to organize your shelves. Post photos of your finished shelving projects below. Cheers from Montana!

Download the DIY Closet Organization System Plans here.

how to make closet shelves

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