Repurposed Doors - Folding Double Desk W/Shelves




Introduction: Repurposed Doors - Folding Double Desk W/Shelves

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I recently removed the folding doors from the closets in my bedroom.

  • If you have a smaller room, one way to make it feel larger is to remove the doors from your closets.

They sat in my storage room for a while before I had to get rid of them when my wife and I decided to turn our storage room into an office/project area (she does photography/painting/jewelry making, etc. I do Instructables). I didn't want to waste perfectly good doors, so I decided I should repurpose them in a project:

We needed a desk with some shelving to make the best use of our new office area, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and turn the closet doors into a desk/shelf assembly that we could both use.

  • These shelves are nifty because the lowest shelf can actually fold out and become a desk. The doors are long enough to accommodate two people working side by side.

Step 1: Best Laid Plans

It's always good to start out with a solid plan before you spend a dime on your project. You'll save yourself time, money, and a lot of frustration in the end.

  1. Start by defining your requirements
    • For me, this project needed to be quick, relatively easy, and cost less than the price to buy a similar product "off the shelf".
    • I wanted a desk that could comfortably accommodate me and my wife doing our own projects. We wanted shelves that could hold the most essential items that we use all the time and wanted easy access to.
    • We needed this whole build to save on space
    • Finally, the finished product should look aesthetically pleasing and be easy to work with.
  2. Do research/brainstorm solutions
    • Even if you have an idea of what you want before you start, do some research into all the ways you can satisfy your requirements. I thought using floating brackets would be the best way, but in my research I discovered that a rail/bracket system would suit my needs better.
    • Also research the products available to do this project. I was able to find all that I needed at my local hardware store, so it made everything easier to just make one stop
  3. Make a diagram
    • Having a visual aid will keep you from making silly mistakes and costing you your time and sanity
    • Position every piece you will be using on paper. Make notations for your measurements, stud locations, desk and shelf heights, and clearances. In my case, I had to make sure my wife could reach the top shelf, and that the desk wasn't too short for me. I also had to be away of the office door's path, and not interfere with it.
    • You can get as detailed as you like, but even just a big picture view will take you a long ways here.

Once you have your head wrapped around your project, it's time to go shopping.

Step 2: Purchase Materials

Here's a list of materials I needed

  • 2 - Folding closet doors
    • One door is comprised of 2 planks hinged together to allow for folding as seen in the first picture
    • Remove the hinges from one door, the planks will be used as the shelves. Leave the hinges on the other door, this will serve as a folding desk
  • 4 - 48" Double Slotted Standards
  • 12 - Double Slotted Shelf Brackets
  • 24 - #8-32 (or applicable) Bolts, Washers, and Nuts
    • Various sizes - The bolts must be long enough to go through the width of the door and the shelf bracket, which tapers to the front. I went with 12- 3 1/2" bolts, and 12- 2 1/2" bolts
  • 16 - 7/16" Lag Bolts
Tools Required:
  • 5/32" Drill Bit
  • Power Drill
  • 7/16" Socket or Wrench
  • 11/32" Socket or Wrench, or Vice Grips
  • Phillips/Flathead screwdriver/Bit
  • Stud Finder
  • Torpedo Level

Step 3: Execute

Here is a recipe-style task list:

  1. Prior to anything else, sit in an office chair and mark your desired desk height on the wall. Usually the bottom of the desk is 4-6" above your knee when sitting.
    • Realize that because there will be lag bolts mounting the rail to the wall, the bolt heads will interfere with the placement of some of the shelf brackets.
    • In my case, the lowest two slot pairs interfered with the brackets, so I had to use the third-from-bottom slots to mount the desk on, meaning I had to lower the rail from where I previously thought it should go.
  2. Start by laying up a double slotted rail on your wall and mark the mounting holes.
    • Horizontal - Be sure each rail is on a stud. Ensure even spacing for weight distribution
    • Vertical - Place the rails so the lowest mark will be below where you want the desk to sit.
  3. Drill 5/32" holes where you marked. Then mount the rail with the lag bolts.
    • Do not overtighten, as you may distort the rail inward.
  4. Draw level, horizontal lines across the wall from the top and bottom of the rail to indicate the vertical placement of the next 3 rails.
  5. Mark holes and mount the next three rails
  6. Mount the shelf brackets to the rails. 4 brackets per level, one for each rail. I chose to use 3 levels (desk and two shelves above it).
  7. With your brackets in place, set your closet doors on them. Take this opportunity to decide if you like the height of each level.
    • Ensure the desk is oriented so that the hinge allows the door to fold up.
  8. Mark and drill the bolt holes on the doors through the bracket holes
    • Or if you're like me, just drill the holes through the brackets, and slightly widen them later.
  9. Insert the long bolt with a washer through the door and bracket and secure it with a nut. Use longer bolts through the holes aligned with the wider part of the shelf bracket
    • Again, don't overtighten here, you may crack the thin door wood. More on this later. Just make sure the bolts are secure
  10. Once all 24 bolts, washers, and nuts are secured, you're done!

Step 4: Know Your Limits

If you are going to use closet doors, ensure you're using these desk/shelves as light-duty only.

  • It's important to realize that my version of this build uses closet doors, which are usually hollow-core doors made with thin ply wood. They are not intended to be loaded horizontally (ie. as a surface). They are built to be used vertically as, well, a door.
  • You can fasten a layer of MDF board or even some thin metal sheet (depending on your purpose) over the surfaces to evenly distribute the weight and prevent cracking the doors)
  • The brackets are rated up to 170 pounds per pair. Being that I used 4 brackets per surface, each shelf/the desk should theoretically hold up to 340 pounds. However, the limiting factor here is the load-bearing capacity of the surface, not the brackets. If you are going to keep something heavier on the surfaces (e.g. a printer) be sure to place it directly over a bracket so that you don't risk bending the door.

Basically, I wouldn't recommend sitting on it.

  • I intend to use this build for some smaller projects, electronics work, sewing, etc. while my wife will use her side of the desk for photo editing on her laptop, jewelry making, and other awesome creativity that comes from her mind
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post a comment.

Keep building!

Shelving Contest 2016

Participated in the
Shelving Contest 2016

Trash to Treasure Contest 2017

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Contest 2017

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    3 Discussions


    3 years ago

    A great project, well explained and executed. This is a good way to re-use old doors, and you covered the safety issues well. Your description is also a very good example of a well written task-oriented description of a project. Thanks!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks very much! I appreciate the feedback!


    3 years ago

    great way to get maximum use of small space. Love it.