I've been posting Instructables since the site's inception, and now build other things at Autodes...

Turn an unused coat closet into a pantry, and store 5 years of canned goods for maximum disaster preparedness!

Step 1: Find a Likely Candidate

Identify an underutilized closet near your kitchen.
We don't really wear coats here in the Bay Area, so our empty coat closet was a perfect candidate.

Step 2: Smash

Use your favorite crow bar to remove any existing closet infrastructure. Try not to make too many holes in the wall, as you'll have to patch them up later.

Step 3: Spackle

Fill all nail holes and ancillary smashes with spackle. If the holes are small use standard spackle, adding spackle in layers and being sure to firmly press it into the wall surface. For larger holes, use lightweight space-filling spackle or joint tape, then finish with standard spackle after the hole filler is allowed to dry.

Step 4: Sand and Wash

After the spackle dries, give the area a light sanding.

Next wash the walls of the closet thoroughly to remove any residual dirt, and lightly sponge over the spackled areas to smooth them off and remove any residual sanding dust.

Step 5: Paint and Shelf Brackets

Paint the closet with one coat of primer and two coats of good quality paint.

Install shelf brackets or other support system. These are functional if ugly; we plan to cover the shelves with enough food that they won't be visible anyway.

Step 6: Cut Shelves

Measure your closet and cut the shelving to fit. We did this after installing the brackets so we could accurately leave cutouts for the brackets, and fit the shelf snugly against the back wall of the closet.

Measure twice, cut once, and all of that. Then give the shelves a light sanding.

Step 7: Poly Shelves

Give the shelves several coats of polyurethane. Let each coat dry overnight (or as specified on the can) and give a VERY light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper and a wipe with tack cloth before the next coat. Stain your shelving first if you prefer.

Set the shelves on nail supports to to dry; this allows you to poly both sides in one go. I prefer foam brushes, but the cheap bristle ones will also do if you pre-remove the shedding bristles. Dispose of the brush after use.

Step 8: Install Shelves

Put in the bottom set of shelf brackets and pile all of the shelves in on top. Have a helper scoot them up individually while you place the brackets at the appropriate loacations. This will enable you to avoid tedious maneuvering in tight spaces and banged-up knuckles during the installation steps.

Step 9: Load Shelves

Your finished shelves are ready to be loaded. Stock up on canned goods now and be prepared for the next natural disaster!



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    13 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I am very confused as to why anyone needs a year and a half, or five years worth, of food in case of an emergency. Is this taught in a church or a certain part of the country or a FEMA disaster preparedness seminar (ummm...mutually exclusive), or am I missing something here? A few weeks or a month's worth I get, if you're the nervous type or still live in Louisiana after Katrina hit. But more seems...kind of... hard to understand. Do you guys know something I don't?

    2 replies
    Eye Pokerbookratt

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    The current administration has added about $40,000 worth of debt in your name. So the electronic printing presses are printing imaginary Ben Franklins nonstop. The resulting inflation is causing a worldwide rise in the commodities market.

    The Eurozone is defaulting on its debt one country at a time and they are collectively carrying less debt than we are.

    Is the world going to end? No. Are we likely to face a huge decrease in our standard of living and associated violence in a societal transition from great wealth to widespread poverty, I'd say yes.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I think the idea is that you should hopefully not need 5 years worth of food, but since most people will be unlikely to have even enough to last through a mild disaster you would be able to help others and still feed yourself. Also enough canned food for 5 years sounds like a lot, but from this example you can see that it's only a closet's worth, so it's not as much as it sounds like.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    trouble with a floating bin is, it'll tip over. Ask me how I know. found out months later when I tried to access the fabric stored in the bins. Slimy. I like the idea that bins would make the food more portable, but If you decide to use bins, make sure they're small enough to lift with all the cans and stuff inside. that can make quite a load before you know it. Most backs can't lift more than about the amount in two grocery/shopping bags at one time. Especially not if held in front. FWIW, kitty


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Why not simply use stackable plastic storage bins? Unlike static shelves, They're transportable in case you need to bug out quick. Or if your basement floods, they'll float and you won't lose all the can labels.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    We did this exact project in our first home, which lacked a pantry. As we had each grown up in 100+ year old homes, which always have a pantry, we felt that building one was a high priority on our "to-do" list. Instead of the lovely varnished shelves you made, we simply scrounged discarded shelves from my employer (they were making a storage closet into offices), and cut the old shelves to size. We replaced the old incandescent light bulb on the ceiling with a fluorescent fixture, and tiled the floor with linoleum we found somewhere. We also put one of those wire rack shelves on the inside of the door to hold items that were too small to put on shelves. For small bags of rice, dried beans, etc., we used shoe boxes to keep the bags from scattering all over the shelves. We made shelf dividers from plastic and cardboard to keep things from moving into the areas occupied by other things, thus keeping the pantry reasonably clean. The door of the pantry held a white board upon which we wrote the names/brands/sizes of items we had just finished, so that creating a shopping list was a breeze. We didn't have five years' worth of food in our pantry, but we did have enough to keep us eating well when money was tight. It enabled us to really stock up on sales when we had enough money to do so. We now live in another old house, and a pantry was a traditional part of the kitchen. We now take having a pantry for granted, but your Instructable gave me some fond memories of a very busy time in our lives.


    11 years ago

    Not to put a damper on this really good idea (REALLY good idea) you could probably only store 3 months of canned food in that space. I've got a year's supply for my family of 3 and a half and it takes up quite a bit more space (under the bed, under our kids' beds, on a large bookshelf, and in a closet. Or maybe your closet is just a lot wider than a standard closet?


    12 years ago

    I took an old bookshelf a friend was gonig to throw away, and used it for the same purpose.


    13 years ago on Step 5

    The previous owner of my house made the inconsiderate mistake of getting the shelving supports that use rivet-style anchors instead of screws. When I pulled them out, it was impoosible to do so without tearing monster holes in the wall. Long story, short: get the kind that screw in.


    13 years ago

    If you plan to pull your daily canned/dry food from this pantry and replenish it on a weekly/regular basis, it helps to make a list of what you want to keep in there. Put this list on the back of the door, and you'll have a handy way to remember what to get at the store. Also, if you're using these canned goods regularly, you have a better chance of avoiding anything being 5+ years old when you actually have a disaster.