Introduction: Almost TOOL-LESS DIYers CUSTOM SHELVES

About: I am married with two children. Spring, summer, and fall are my very favorite times of the year. I enjoy working in the yard, sewing, cooking, quilting, gardening, and creating. I do this to keep my sanity.

Here are some shelves my husband built that helped give us some very good storage space. They are simple to make and can be made with few tools. Follow through and I will show you how to make them.



    We live in a small house built in the late 40's and there is no storage to speak of. It has been frustrating for me because I am a neat freak. I like a place for everything and everything in its place. I hate dust and find myself dusting everything that is out in the open. I recently asked my husband if he would help me make shelves in the hall closet, so I could reduce the clean-up time on the house.

    I just hated the shelves in the hall. It was a dust magnet. I am always working on crafts & sewing and have to do them in the dinning room. Walking side-ways to go into the kitchen when my ironing board was set up was a pain. Tripping over the vacuum was always a problem.


    I decided that I had waited long enough on things I wanted to accomplish on the remodeling, so I actually went on strike. Things got very messy and dusty around here and it finally got to him. When are you going to clean the house? My answer was when it would get easier to clean. I have to admit it was one of the hardest things for me to do. I hate dirt! So I had accomplished my goal. Now I have his attention! So we had decided to use the hall closet for shelves instead of a coat closet. He began drawing up the plans and made a supply list.

    Shelves are the solution to the space problem!


    I decided what all I wanted to go in the closet.
    I set them out so I could tell how tall I needed the shelves.
    Here is a list of what I needed in shelves.

    • Half as wide as the wall so I could store my vacuum, ironing board, mop and broom.
    • Cleaning supplies and large containers.
    • Toilet paper.
    • Leave coat rod attached so when we sold the house the new owners could have a coat closet if they chose.
    • Adjustable shelves.


    Have you ever heard of melamine boards? These are a dream to work with according to my husband. Finding it here is impossible. Home Depot does not stock it and we can't find it anywhere less than 200 miles.

    We live in a small town and most people here use particle board or plywood for shelves. Melamine board is pre-cut, drilled, sanded, and painted from the factory. It cost about the same as plywood. It saves a person a lot of time because there is no sanding, drilling, or painting to do.

    Melamine is the answer for someone who does not own tools to make shelves but need custom shelves. It is great for apartments or rentals that will not allow any holes or nails in the walls.

    Melamine is not as strong as plywood, so if your kids love to climb, these shelves probably are not a good choice. Make them out of plywood.

    If you do a google search "melamine closets" it should show Easy Closets and they have a nice site to get ideas from.

    Home improvement centers will cut a few cuts for you if you buy the boards from them. When you have your plans drawn out and know the cutting measurements for each board, you can buy enough boards to allow for about 4 cuts per store visit and they won't complain about cutting them. They usually don't charge for the first 2 cuts. After that they charge a small fee. Remember they are in the business to sell boards not cut them.
    Bring your diagram with you to the Home improvement center.

    Step 4: Tools

    Measuring tape.
    Maybe a hammer, rock, heavy object? You probably won't even use the hammer.


    A good builder will make sure everything is square. Unfortunately not everything built is built by a good builder and sometimes things are not square. This can cause headaches for homeowners who wish to make changes in their home.

    • These shelves are designed for a single door closet.
    • Draw a diagram of the shelves you want to build.
    • Looking at the door, measure the left ( back ) from the top of the baseboard to the bottom of the rod support board.
    • Make a note on the diagram the measurements you took and make sure to write down " left back from baseboard to bottom of rod support board. "
    • Next measure the left front from the top of the baseboard to the bottom of the rod support board.
    • Write the measurements on your diagram left front from top of baseboard to bottom of closet rod support board.
    • If the measurements are the same that side is level. If they are not then use the shortest length if you have no way to cut the board because a home improvement center can only cut straight cuts.
    • Repeat this method on the right side and write the measurements down on your diagram.
    • Shelving boards come in 8's 10's 12 foot lengths for normal stock items. The widths come in 12 inch and 16 inch but the true measurements are the 12 inch are actually 11 1/2 and the 16's are actually 15 1/2 inches.
    • Next you need to measure how wide the closet is to determine the length of the board to make the shelf. Remember to measure the front and back to make sure they are square and if they aren't square you need to use the shortest length unless you have a friend or relative that can cut them perfectly for you. All shelving comes in 3/4 inch thickness so you need to deduct 1 1/2 inches from your shelf length. Write this measurement on your diagram.
    • Next determine how many shelves you want and write down the number of shelves.

    It cost about $ 10.00 a sheet.
    You would most likely use about 3 sheets for your shelves if you use 2 uprights and have 4 shelves 16 deep X 29 1/2 length.


    From your diagram you need to make a bill of materials list.

    2 upright shelving boards (Example) 61 1/2 inches if it is square.
    If it is not square draw a picture of the measurements, or use the shortest lengths.

    4 shelves 30 inches. If not square draw a picture of each shelf and it's measurements.

    16 Shelf brackets.

    6 hooks and the size you need for hanging brooms, mops, and other things.

    Glue because sticky hooks really need it to stay secure, I know because I use these sticky hooks a lot.

    If your shelves has a gap similar to the one I pictured in step 5 you can fill in the gap with adhesive caulking and it will not be as noticeable.

    When you give the employee the cutting measurements make sure they line up the 2 uprights so that the shelving holes line up. They may need to trim the board before cutting the length you need or the shelf might not be level.

    Step 7: ASSEMBLING

    Place one upright on the right side of the wall on top of the baseboard and push it all the way against the wall.

    Place the other upright on the left side of the wall and push it all the way against the wall.

    Place 4 of the shelf brackets in the holes the height that you need for each shelf.

    Place one shelf in on top of the brackets.

    Repeat until all the shelves are in place.

    Glue and put up your hooks.

    Fill the closet full of stuff!

    Your shelves are finished! Now you can enjoy your shelves and be more organized!

    Oh how I wished we could have made our shelves this way, it would have been so much easier!

    Step 8: Final Thoughts

    You do not need to be a master builder to make these shelves. They are easy quick, cheap and fast.

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