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How to Build a Compact Kitchen Pantry

Get instructions for building a compact pantry cupboard that sits flush with the kitchen wall and extends out into the garage on the other side.

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Step 1: Frame the Opening

? The pantry needs a sturdy frame for support, especially since it's cantilevered over the washer and dryer in the garage. To frame the bottom of the opening, cut blocks from 2x4s to fit between the nearest studs to the wall opening. Position one block at the bottom of the opening with the ends snugly against the full studs still inside the wall. Nail the block to these studs and to the cut studs in between. Repeat at the top of the opening.
? To frame the sides, cut blocks from 2x4s and attach them to the nearest full studs. Build up layers of these blocks until they are flush with the sides of the opening. This will give sturdy attachment points on all four sides of the pantry.

Step 2: Install the Pantry in the Wall Opening

Slide the pantry into the opening, with a person supporting the pantry on each side of the wall (Image 1). Use shims as necessary to adjust the pantry until it is level, plumb and flush with the kitchen wall. Tip: Cut one or two 2x4s to use as temporary supports on the garage side of the wall during installation.
Use a nail gun to tack the pantry in place (Image 2), then attach it to the frame with screws. Make sure to drive screws or nails through the shims to hold them in place.
? Use a nail gun to install wood trim around the pantry on both sides of the wall to cover any gaps between the drywall and the pantry. Miter the trim corners using a chop saw or miter saw.

Step 3: Create the Pantry Opening in the Kitchen

? Before committing to a plan, cut a few exploratory holes in the wall. Any plumbing or electrical lines in the wall need to be moved by a qualified professional. In this case, one electrical outlet was moved to better accommodate the microwave oven.
? The building plan calls for the pantry cupboard to extend into the garage, which is set at a lower level than the rest of the house. To get the right dimensions and location for the pantry, use a long level and measuring tape to determine the point on the kitchen wall that corresponds to the garage ceiling; the pantry needs to fit under this space. In this home, there's enough room for a 3' x 45" box pantry to sit flush with the kitchen wall and extend into the garage space.
? Use a hammer to knock a hole in the kitchen wall. Recheck the measurements from the plan and use a straightedge to outline the desired hole on the wall. Using a utility knife, score the drywall, again guided by a straightedge. Cut along the score line with a drywall saw or reciprocating saw and carefully remove the drywall.

Step 4: Build the Box and Shelving

? Double-check the dimensions of the framed-out hole in the wall and adjust the project plan as necessary. Wearing safety glasses, cut the pantry box pieces from 3/4" birch plywood and assemble using wood glue and nails.
? With the basic shell built, install shelves on the garage side of the pantry box. On the kitchen side, install a vertical divider in the middle of the cupboard, supporting a shelf that will hold the microwave oven.
? Install 3/4" trim on all the raw edges on both sides of the pantry, then prime and paint as desired.

Step 5: Remove the Garage-Side Wall

? Position a drill with a long bit against one of the corners of the hole in the kitchen wall and drill through the entire wall. Repeat for all four corners to transfer the corner points to the garage wall. On the garage side of the wall, use a straightedge and utility knife to connect the dots, then carefully cut and remove the drywall from the garage side. Also remove any insulation in the wall.
? Use a jigsaw or reciprocating saw to remove the wall studs flush with the hole in the drywall.

Step 6: Install Hardware on the Pantry Box

? Use a hacksaw to cut the adjustable shelving tracks to size and install in the pantry using the small screws that come with the tracks. Make sure to line up the tracks so the clip openings are even, or the shelves will be crooked.
? Also install the tracks for the sliding cupboard doors. These tracks attach with construction adhesive and small nails; use a nail set or spring punch to drive the tiny nails if space is tight.

Step 7: Make Pantry Doors

? Cut two pieces of 1/2" plywood to size for the sliding pantry doors that will be used on the kitchen side. Use a router to cut rabbets (squared-off recesses) along the top and bottom of the doors so they will fit in the door tracks. Use a drill with a Forstner bit to cut finger-size holes for sliding the doors.
? To finish the pantry, fit shelf clips into the tracks and install the adjustable shelves, adjustable vertical partition and sliding doors.