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How to Build Rotating Shelves

Host Karl Champley shows how to build a set of rotating shelves that will fit inside a wall cutout, supported by fixed shelves.

More in Remodeling

Step 1: Make a Scale Drawing

To build rotating shelves, stationary shelves must be built to support the unit. The base unit is a simple box with shelves that will rest on the floor. The top of this unit will extend back to cover the bottom of the wall cutout and support the rotating shelves. Sketch out a scale drawing of the unit with the measurements marked.

Step 2: Cut the Plywood

Using the sketch and measurements as a guide, cut out the plywood to form the sides, top and bottom of the shelving unit.

Step 3: Assemble the Unit

Assemble the unit with wood glue and nails. Build the base unit to sit flush against the walls at each end. Don't install the top of the base until after the rotating shelves are in place because this will make it easier to work inside the wall cutout.

Step 4: Paint the Base Cabinet

Prime and paint the base cabinet as desired.

Step 5: Sketch a Plan

The rotating shelf is essentially a cabinet that rotates on a common piece of hardware: a lazy Susan (with steel ball bearings for extra strength). Measure the wall cutout and use these dimensions to sketch a plan with the cabinet measurements. The design should resemble two shallow bookcases placed back to back, which gives two full sets of shelves and keeps a visual barrier between two rooms (Image 1).

Note: Remember to make the unit smaller than the opening so that it will rotate without catching its corners on the wall. Add wood along the center of each side to fill the extra space when the shelves are at rest (Image 2).

Step 6: Cut the Plywood

Measure and cut the plywood for the rotating shelf according to the measurements on the sketch.

Step 7: Assemble the Shelf

Assemble the rotating shelf unit. To center the lazy Susan on the rotating shelf unit, turn the unit upside down. Draw two diagonal lines on the bottom of the unit from corner to corner. They will intersect at the center of the unit. Center the lazy Susan and secure it with screws.

Step 8: Drill a Hole in the Center

Turn the rotating shelf unit right-side up. Draw diagonal lines from corner to corner to find the center point and use a power drill with a paddle bit to drill a hole in the center of the top to accommodate the 1-3/4" copper pipe.

Step 9: Secure the Base Cabinet

Use screws to secure the base cabinet to the wall studs, making sure it is level. The top piece of the base cabinet will support the rotating shelf.

Step 10: Install the Support

Center the shelf in the cutout and make sure it has enough room to rotate on the lazy Susan. Run the copper pipe up through the top of the rotating unit and into the hole in the 2x4 lumber at the top of the cutout. This will serve as a swivel support when the shelving unit rotates.

Step 11: Secure the Entire Piece

Check the entire piece to make sure that it’s plumb and rotates properly. Secure it by driving a few screws down through the lazy Susan and into the base cabinet.

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Projects

Resources

  • Hand tools from Klein Tools
  • Sinks and fixtures from Kohler
  • Wire shelving from Closetmaid

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