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How to Create Custom Shelves

Learn how to create custom shelves with these easy-to-follow steps.

More in Remodeling

Step 1: Laundry Shelves: Build the Box

Use a circular saw to cut the cupboard pieces from 3/4" plywood. Assemble the basic box shape with wood glue and nails.

Step 2: Add Shelves and Backing

Use wood glue and nails to attach the shelves and backing to the basic box.

Step 3: Trim and Paint

Use a finish nailer to attach 3 /4" wood trim to all exposed edges on the front of the unit. Prime and paint as desired.

Step 4: Install the Shelves

Locate and mark the position of the wall studs. Position the shelving unit on the wall, adjust for level and plumb, and attach by driving screws through the box into the studs.

Step 5: Kitchen Shelves: Sketch Out a Design

This small, rounded shelving unit will fit on the blank end of the kitchen cabinets. Located right by the kitchen door, it will be a perfect place to drop keys, cell phones and other small carry-along items. Measure the depth and height of the cabinet to get the correct dimensions and sketch out a design.

Step 6: Cut Wood

Use a circular saw to cut oak plywood to the correct dimensions for the shelves. The two flat "walls" of the unit will be the same height and width as the end panel of the kitchen cabinet.

Tip: Measure the thickness of the plywood and make one of the shelves narrower than the other by that measurement. This will cause the unit to be correctly squared up when assembled.

Step 7: Attach the Sides

Use wood glue and nails to attach the two side panels at a 90-degree angle. The slightly narrower panel should butt up against the wider one so the final structure is the same width on both sides.

Step 8: Cut Rounded Shelves

Measure the inside width on the inside of the unit from the joint to the edge. Cut a piece of plywood in a circle with this radius, then cut the circle into four quarter-circles. This yields four potential shelves for the unit.

Step 9: Install Shelves

Use wood glue and nails to attach the shelves to the sides. Make sure the shelves are straight and level before nailing.

Step 10: Trim the Unit

Cut lengths of iron-on oak veneer to size and apply according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once the veneer is set, trim the veneer with a utility knife.

Step 11: Stain the Wood

Wearing plastic gloves, stain the wood to match the surrounding cabinetry.

Step 12: Install the Shelves

Mount the shelves by driving screws through the existing cabinet into the side of the unit. Level and plumb the shelves before securing. Make sure to use screws that are the right length to go into – but not through – the side of the shelving unit.

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