It is always a good idea to have bulk food supplies available in case of an emergency. There are a couple challenges to keeping a well stocked emergency food supply. One challenge is how to minimize the space required to store the food supplies. Another challange is how to turn over your emergency food supply. Ideally you want to eat the oldest items and replace them with new items. Without a good strategy for turning over your food supply you could (and probably will) end up with a lot of expired food.

Canned goods make good emergency food supplies. The shelf life of most can goods is in excess of a year and most can goods can be eaten cold. There are a couple issues with storing can goods. First, most commercially available metal or plastic shelving has a shelf space of 12-18". Even stacking cans 2 high leaves a lot of unusable space above the cans, and cans stacked 2 high are unstable without some base material (such as cardboard) between them. Bumping the shelving can cause cans to fall and become damaged, significantly shorting the can's shelf life. Another issue is turning over your can stock. Ideally you would use the oldest cans and replace them with new cans. Minimizing the unusable space above the cans makes it a pain to get at the oldest cans which typically end up at the back of the shelf when fresh stock is place in the front.

This is where the gravity fed can FIFO (First In First Out) helps. The can FIFO works by dropping new cans in the top which work their way to the bottom (via gravity) as the oldest cans are pulled out the bottom. There are many different commercially available can FIFOs typically made of plastic or plastic coated wires. I found the commercially available can FIFOs to be very cheep in construction and some what expensive at $1 or more per can stored. Additionally, I did not find any FIFO can storage systems that would allow the area above the cans to be used without iminent collapse of the cheep plastic. Thus, I decide to make my own.
I am not a wood worker by trade or by hobby. I have hacked many functional items from wood, but do not have extensive wood working tools or training. I would be very interested to hear how this project could be made better from individuals with more wood working experience. Ultimately, the can FIFO presented here, though not a work of art, is very strong, functional and can be made with some simple wood working tools.

This project requires the use of tools. You can hurt yourself with tools if not used correctly. By attempting this project you are taking sole responsibility of your actions. The author holds no responsibility for any positive or negative consequences of your actions if you attempt this Instructable. Use your head, if something does not seem safe DON'T DO IT! If you fail to use your head and things go bad, then man up and accept responsibility for your actions. I HATE HATE HATE that I even need a disclaimer but we live in a litigious society for better or worse (mostly worst IMHO).

Step 1: Items Required

One 4'x8' sheet of 3/8" or 11/32" finished plywood
Small 9/16" nails or staple gun with small brads (see pic above)
4d finishing nails
Wood Glue

Tape measure
1/8" and 3/8" drill bits
Reciprocating saw
Circular Saw (optional)
Polyurethane (Spray or brush)

Make sure the plywood surface is sanded and smooth. A rough surface and knot holes may keep cans from rolling smoothly causing them to jam rather than roll. I purchased a 4' x 8' sheet of  "Finished" birch plywood for less than $20. It was more than double the cost of the cheapest grade 3/8" plywood, but I think it was worth the extra cost.
<p>The Step 2 pattern photo is missing from your instructions</p>
<p>I just looked and the pattern is there. There must be a problem with your browser.</p>
<p>If you cut out the bottom so the cans could drop would you be able to stack multiple units on top of each other so that you could store 18, 27, etc cans in each stack? Have you tried this? I typically have 48+ cans of any given food and it would be great to have them all in a single rotating station. I'm thinking about building out my food storage room with these units.</p>
I have thought about it but have not tried it. It should work. Let me know how it goes if you do try to do it. The cans do get stuck once in a while so make sure you can reach into each level to un-stick the cans if needed.
<p>In this case, isn't it First In Last Out? I would think you'd want the latest addition to the stack to be the last one to be pulled, same theory as stock rotation in a grocery store. Just curious...</p>
<p>If you fill it from the top and pick it from the bottom it will be first in (from top), first out (from bottom). </p>
You have the theory right, but you are getting caught in semantics. Think of it this way: If you stacked your cans in a line, the first one you bought would be at the front of the line (First In). When you go to choose from that line you will pull front the front and it will be the &quot;First Out&quot;. The next one you use would be the second one you bought (Second In - Second Out). &quot;First In - Last Out&quot; would mean that the first can you put in would be the last can you used (not what you want). Hopefully this makes sense.
<p>Has anyone tried this with other materials besides plywood? I'd like to make this for my pantry, but plywood just isn't very aesthetically appealing. I'd prefer a more finished look to it.</p>
<p>consider decorative front side molding</p>
<p>Absolutely gorgeous, a great organizer for the OCD in us, but not practical in terms of FIFO. It would need to hold at least two years worth of inventory in order to be a practical device for the purpose of FIFO.</p><p>Canned foods could last for decades, so it really doesn't matter if you take the first or last item if they were all purchased in the same year. </p>
<p>I would like to get the printable instructions for this can storage dispenser, but it says to get them I have to click on the vote button. I see no vote button, so how do I get the printable instructions. Thank you, Patty</p>
Hi Patty. The voting is long since over, I have not updated the text since I posted the instructable. You should not have to vote to download the printable instructions, but I'm not sure how you do it. Good luck.
<p>The only issues I had with this instructable is that the strips on the front (2&quot;and 2 1/2&quot; x 44 5/8) were too short. I ended up having to scrounge up a different piece of wood to make them 45 3/8 instead. Also, I'm not sure if there was a typo or if I read the instructions wrong, but 4D nails are too small to fit tightly in an 1/8 inch hole. I stepped it down a measurement and everything worked great! Thak you for the great instructable!</p>
<p>What are the actual dimensions of the final project? Sorry if I missed them somewhere along the line.</p>
14.5&quot; deep, 9.25&quot; high, 45&quot; long
<p>Great instructable. One point though: materials list show one sheet of 3/8 plywood, yet some of the dimensions show 5/8. I assume a typo here, may need revision/clarification. Hate to be a 'stickler', but some folks maybe become confused. Still a GREAT Instructable, and I will incorporate this into a full pantry project. Thanks.</p>
There are only a couple spots where the thickness of the plywood is called out at the beginning of the instructable. I did not see any that were 5/8, and the entire project can be done with one 4 x 8 sheet of the same thickness. I did refer to dimensions in several places such as (2 1/2&quot; x 44 5/8&quot; piece) where 5/8 was called out. This does not refer to the plywood thickness but the dimension as in 44&quot; + 5/8&quot; = 44 5/8&quot;. Hope this helps.
<p>Fantastic Instructable! Thanks for this, Can't wait to make mine!</p>
<p>I love this, but it may be some time until hubby can make one. <br>Meanwhile, I find myself stumped with only 1 &quot;collection&quot; and that is <br>for accessories. How do I make a new collection?</p>
I don't understand the question. Are you sure you are commenting on the right instructable? There are no accessories with my 81 can fifo.
I know that your can dispenser has no accessories! lol <br>My problem was that right after joining the site, I had created a collection with the title of accessories and when I wanted to save your instructions, I got stuck with putting them in my collection for accessories because I couldn't figure out how to create a new one, which I would have called &quot;household,&quot; or something like that. After writing for help, I did finally succeed in finding out how to make a new collection, but the method was different from what I had expected.<br><br>Anyway, I'm OK now, so thanks.<br>
I have been wanting to make one and I like your design.
Actually you would lose some space from a perfect stack to use this, The advantages come in from not toppling the stacks by accident and the FIFO design automatically rotates your stock, rather than having to clear a stack to check dates. My problem is that I use the stacking metal shelves that are 36&quot; wide, so I'd have to rearrange the 4'x8' usage and change my shelf height for the double high idea but this would transfer the weight on the shelf to the corners instead of stressing the center of these shelves with huge stacks of cans. I do like the center lift idea to keep them rolling straight. I was thinking I might even go with thinner plywood but cut pieces to glue under the rolling surface at the &quot;landing point&quot; to reinforce those spots. By assembling the rolling surfaces then the landing zone reinforcements, I could fore go the need to anchor the walls to the shelf surface through the edge as the reinforcements could be the right width to keep the walls in place. Maybe use the strap idea to pop the front can to double as the drop through gate if not present, Just cut a slot near the front of the bottom shelf to put the strap through and have a hook to hold the strap over the front wall so that I can grab the hook and pull up to grab the front can. If no strap present then the can falls. A hinged upward plate might work too but it would have to be hinged at the front to hinge up for the can or up and out of the way so the can may fall unobstructed at the next level. (If I hinge away from the front the gate would get in the way for a drop through arrangement.)
Rather than &quot;poke&quot; the cans from the bottom to remove them you could cut a half round, about half a can diameter, cutout on each side panel where the can sits. You could then easily grasp the ends of a can with your finger and thumb and pull it out. <br>BTW, a great build.
This is a great idea man! With winter coming, and eventually tornado (think long power outages) season after that, I wanted a way to be able to rotate and hold my canned goods. I like your idea very much! I think you've done a wonderful job and I'll probably use your design when I build mine. Only change I may make is widening some of the can bays for the larger cans (family sized), other than that, it's superb. Thanks for the instructable!!! :)
This is just begging to get the Kreg Jig treatment. <br>
Just a thought for the jams, try placing a thin runner dow the center of each slot so the lip doesn't touch the surface. You could even incorporate jenicrowe's ideal and leave the end hanging out to pop out cans. I'm going to make a similar one but it will be on a roll-out pantry.
Great idea, I know what I'm putting on my <br>Honey do List. : )
Awesome! Never would have considered this even though I see this every time I go to the store. I'm consider something like this for my canned food that I keep in my pantry now! Will definitely free up some space.
Very well done!<br>You said you aren't a pro woodworker but your work is excellent. I know what I'm doing tonight in my shop.<br>I'll paint mine instead of poly but other than that, I'm copying your design.<br>
You could stack these with a bit of a redesign so that they feed through or not depending if you have a gate open or not. Then items that are eaten often can have more than one tier and ones that aren't stick to the 9 cans.
Great idea! I had not thought of that, but it would be a simple mod.
Great work; This looks like a well though out and executed plan. looking at your dimensional measurements I believe that this is something that I can incorporate into my pantry (shorter in length and stacked for the most used items) weight won't be a problem as the shelves I have now have legs that transfer the force to the floor and not on the walls.<br>Again Great Job, now it's off to the shop to see what I can do with this idea.<br>Dan<br><br>P.S. a plunge router and table saw will make short work of the cuts.
The plunge router would definitely be a welcome addition to the build. Cutting all the slots in the interior walls with my drill and saber saw took a lot of time. I've gotten pretty good at free-handing my circular saw, but a table saw would definitely be the prefered tool if available. As for planning I would say that I spent more time on that than the entire build. Measure twice, cut once only works if all the calculations are correct! Thanks for the comments.
I also love this and think it was excellently thought through and executed. I'm going to stat the husband on this right away. But I think I will add thin strips of nylon cloth or something equally sturdy and flat, attached in each can row to go under the can and hang over the edge to just pop that baby out. I have seen tight battery cases with this handy little attachment to remove the batteries. I think I might experiment with making it from laminated layers of cardboard as well, maybe using layers folded accordian style for strength. Brovo for a great job.
The strap is an excellent idea if you can not get your hand under to pop one out. Thanks for the comment!
Very well done! I've been wanting to make one of these for a while, and you've shared a lot of great info here that will make this project much quicker for me. <br><br>I like how you put the poly on before assembling. That's a a great idea for this particular project. The only thing I will probably do different is use screws instead of nails (along with glue still, of course). <br><br>Very nicely done though, thanks for posting this!
Thanks for the comment. I like the idea of using screws if they are small enough and you drill first. My stash of wood screws mostly consists of drywall screws which are really too big for driving into the end of 3/8&quot; plywood. I had not thought to buy smaller wood screws so I used nails.
<br>i could not find drywall screws smaller than 1-1/8&quot;, so I resorted to put them in on an angle. Meanwhile, a friend was driving in 3&quot; screws until flush, and then taking a hammer to the protruding tip. They broke off cleanly. <br><br>Now if I need a 3/4&quot; wood screw, I'll nick a drywall screw and snap it off in the vice. You have to pre-drill the holes in this case without a point, but it works out otherwise OK.<br><br>Nails, on the other hand will bend, rather than break off cleanly due to the lack of hardness if you try to shorten them this way.
Your comment reminded me I wanted some drywall screws smaller than the 1-1/8&quot; found in retail hardware stores&hellip; I'll share my results: <a href="http://www.filmtools.com/3drsc1.html">http://www.filmtools.com/3drsc1.html</a> Brought a smile to this ol' DIYer!
Cool, I would instantly order these if shipping didn't totally kill the deal. Bookmarked for my next project, but hopefully I can find them someplace like Amazon w/ free super-saver shipping.<br> <br> The other problem is that they don't seem to have the deep and aggressive thread profile that I prefer in my drywall/decking screws. It's a small picture though.
If you do find them on Amazon etc&hellip; please remember to share ;-)
Great idea. Thanks for sharing.
nice, this is going in my bomb shelter:D!<br>
I think this is about as well as it can be constructed with the amount of tools you've used. <br><br>If you had a router table or an angle-cut sled for a table saw and a dado stack, you could make the plywood joints using dadoes instead of the thru-joints you used. But with 3/8&quot; plywood that doesn't give much room for the dadoes, so you'd have to move up to 3/4&quot; ply, which would double the cost.<br><br>Ring-shank nails might be a good option too. They'll bite more into the wood than finish nails and shouldn't require as large a pre-drill hole as screws.<br><br>Also, if you have a decent sander, you can buy the unfinished plywood and save yourself a couple bucks. Just sand the parts where the cans would contact. If it were me I probably wouldn't put polyurethane on it, simply because poly is to help protect the wood from abuse and make it look &quot;prettier,&quot; both of which aren't really concerns with this project IMO.<br><br>This isn't something that needs to be pretty - it sits in a pantry. It just needs to work, and work when you need it most. I think you've accomplished that, even without advanced woodworking knowledge. Kudos.
I like the ring-shank nail idea. I think I have some of those lying around, but I did not think to use them. I don't have a good sander or tools for making dadoes so those ideas are out for now. Thanks for the comments!
Excellent design. I have to make one, or two. I'll experiment with cutting an arc from the bottom rail in front of the cans to make it easier to grab hold of the cans. <br> <br>Thanks.
That would be a good idea if the FIFO box does not hang over the edge of the shelf. You could probably cut the lower rail down to 1 1/2&quot; and just hike it up an inch from the bottom. The bottom inch of the rail does not do much anyway.
Excellent idea! Thank you!
I think I just found another project for my husband! ; )

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