Introduction: How to Build a Custom 5'x8' Reach in Closet for Less Than $50!

About: 18 - Senior - Maker

I've been wanting to build a custom closet for a while now but have never had the tools to do so until I got into wood working a few months ago so this past week I finally decided to make one. In this instructable I will show you how to design and build a custom reach in closet for less than $50.


  • 1 3/4in. x 4ft. x 8ft. piece of pine plywood (It's usually $30 a piece at lowes/homedepot but I got mine half off after pointing out some defects in the piece.) Have this wood cut to 4 8ft. x 1ft. strips.
  • 1-3/4in. diameter x 5ft. wood dowel (Depends on your closet design.)
  • 1in. screws


  • You can use just an 8in+ chop/miter saw but its easier if you have a table & circular saw.
  • Drill
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Clamps can come in handy but aren't needed
  • Jig/Hand Saw
  • Counter Sink Drill Bit
  • Wide 1-3/4in. dia Drill Bit

Step 1: Designing the Closet

Get a piece of paper and make an ordered list of everything that you want in your closet. Once you do that think of the most logical place for those items and draw it out. I found it helpful to label the shelfs/dowels/spaces to specify where all my things would go.

Remember that you will need 2 2in. x 1ft. strips of wood (brackets) per shelf /closet rod to sit on and/or 2 4in. x 1ft. strips of wood for each closet rod to go into and. Shelves can sit on top of the closet rod brackets.

Keep in mind that you will only have 4 8ft strips of wood.

Step 2: Getting a Cut List

Once you have a basic design collect measurements and make a cut list. Remember that the wood is 3/4in thick and that you only have 4 8ft strips of wood.

This was my cut list:

  • Top: 1 5' Strip
  • Legs: 2 6' Strips
  • Shelves: 6 19-1/2" Strips
  • Brackets: 10 2" Strips
  • Brackets for dowels: 4 4" Strips
  • Closet Rods: 3 19-1/2" Dowels

I used 30ft of plywood.

Step 3: Cutting the Wood

Now cut all of the wood on your cut list. If your design has legs like me and your closet has baseboards you will need to cut a small piece of wood the size of your baseboard out of the back of all the legs.

For those that are using a miter saw to cut the plywood read this:

To cut 12 inch wide plywood using only a miter saw cut half of the plywood flip it and cut the other half.

Step 4: Drilling the Holes

There are 3 types of brackets. The shelf, closet rod, and combo bracket.

The shelf bracket is the simplest of them all as it's just a 12" x 2" strip of wood with 3 counter sunk holes in it. See the pictures to know where the holes go.

The closet rod bracket is just like the shelf bracket but you instead drill a 1 3/4" hole where one of the counter sunk holes would go.

The combo bracket is both the closet and shelf bracket combined. It's a 12" x 4" strip of wood with 5 counter sunk holes in it and one 1 3/4" hole. For these holes just copy the shelf bracket holes on the top and bottom then replace one of the counter sunk holes with a 1 3/4" hole.

When you are drilling holes for these keep in mind that you need 2 opposite brackets per shelf.

Step 5: Sanding

My plywood was pre-sanded so not much had to be done, I just cleaned up the holes and edges. You can also paint it to make it blend in with the closet but I liked the look of the wood so I decided not to.

Step 6: Installing

Attach the brackets to the wood & wall before you move it into the closet, this makes installing it so much easier. I had a "roof" on my design so that was the first thing I installed. My closet wasn't a right angle so I had to sand the corner down a bit to get it in. Once I got that done I simply moved the legs in, sat the rods and shelves in, and screwed the legs in place from the roof.

Step 7: All Done!

Clean it up with a rag and vacuum then fill it up.

Now you can definitely do this better if you spend more money (I only spent $20) and have a better tool setup. Share some pics if you happen to use this to make a custom closet!

If you find this useful or like it please vote for it for the shelving contest.

Shelving Contest 2016

Participated in the
Shelving Contest 2016