Retro/Rustic Shoe Cabinet DIY Tutorial




Introduction: Retro/Rustic Shoe Cabinet DIY Tutorial

About: I love to make DIY projects with my son

What ?

Easy to make with common devices - Shoe cabinet for Your shoes.

Why ?

Why not ? You have shoe, Yes ? You also like woodworking, so.. do the shoe cabinet!

Handmade cabinet could be better than those ones from shops - it fit's perfectly, looks better, is made from wood (not from wood replacement which are not so durable) and gives fun during making.

What do You need ?

Raw wood, or wooden desks. 1" for shelves and decors and 2" for cabinet sides.

Hand router, Sander, Table saw

Pen and papper

How it will look ?

If You are courious, just look my video from Youtube. This is very short trailer of my whole tutorial movie.

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Step 1: Plans

First off all,You need a plan.

Plan could be very simple. It's not crucial that You have to have everything visible on plans. Just write Your main concept and measurements (which suits Your needs) and that's all.

All other details such as exact look of decors, could be specified later on, during work.

Notice: Every project produces some remains. Those remains could be then reused in another project. For example, maybe You have some decors from another work, and You could use them in current project? Think and look around what You have in Your workshop.

As You can see on the pictures, My plans are very simple. Just look from front, side and some conception of the decor.

Step 2: Preparing the Desks (can Be Skipped, If You Buy Desks From Market)

Notice: This step could be skipped. You can buy the ready to use wooden desk in shops/building markets.

In this project I'm using the raw material from sawmill. Of course material is properly dried.

First step is to make some selection. It's important to look and avoid knots or very curved desks. Not every knot disqualifies the wood, but the curved desks could be tricky to prepare. I will show in some future tutorial how to handle them, but for this project I'm not using twisted wood.

Second step is to properly cut the wood - to get rid of unnecessary or ugly knots.

Step 3: Creating Shoe Cabinet Main Elements

There are three main cabinet elements - sides, top and shelves. All of them could be made in the same way: take the desk, cut them for 'almost' needed length, glue them and then cut to the right dimensions.Easy, isn't it ?

Notice: be vary accurate when making final cuttings. Use good measurement tools such as: scoop or angle device.


Sides are made from thicker wood than the rest part of the project. I'm using 2" desks for them. This is because on the sides there will be junctions with shelves.


Top is made from 1" desks. Just glue them and remember to add some place in Your measurements for the further decor and cornice.


Shelves are made like Top, but they should have a little bit smaller dimensions.

Step 4: Cut the Trenches in the Cabinet's Sides to Make Junction With Shelves

You need trace the junction points. Be very accurate making them, because masking the cracks which You can make could be very hard and almost always such maskings will look awful.

So, measure the thick of the shelves and then add marks on the both cabinet sides.

Then You need to cut cabinet sides but only for depth of 0,5-1". I'm using miter saw to make them (watch video), but there are many other ways to do cuts like this. If You don't have mechanical saw, You can use hand saw. It will take more time, but could be even more accurate.

Step 5: Glue Shelves With Cabinet's Sides

If You've done everything ok - You have two sides of the cabinet with two trenches in each. Try to put shelves (cutted to right dimensions) into trenches. If they fit, You are ready to gluing.

Dismount previous test work and put the glue into the trenches, and on the ends of the shelves, but not too much, to avoid likings.

Now once again put shelves into trenches. You may need to use some force, but remember to not hit too powerfully, because You will end with the cracks, like it's presented on the second picture from this step.

As You can guess, I didn't do this bad junction with cracks just as example to show it to You. It was created by my mistake, and then I had to make one of the cabinet side once again. Eh..

Step 6: Mounting the Top of the Shoe Cabinet

This step is very easy. Just put the top in the right place and use the screws to connect it to the sides of the cabinets. Yes, use ordinary screws - they won't be visible, so why don't to use them as shortcut :)

To avoid unnecessary movement of the top use the clamps to make it hold in one place.

Step 7: Decors and Cornice

Decors can be easily cut from 1" desks. I decided to use some fancy pattern, but it could be anything from just nothing at all to flat rectangular desk.

When the decors will be ready, just glue them to the end of the shelves. Use clamps to make them hold in one place during gluing.

Cornice is easy to make using hand router. If You don't have one, You could just buy some decor desks in market and then glue them to the top of the shoe cabinet. It will look great, I know it, because I'm doing cornices like this in some of my projects.

Step 8: The Back of the Cabinet

I've decided that my cabinet will have back from 1" desks, but do not fix on such solution.
There are some cabinets without backs. You can also make the back from one flat surface (more work, but maybe better look ?) or You can make just small stoppers from narrow desks.

I've made back, because I wanted to create something with rustic look and I have some waste from making other project.

So, If You want back, just make what You need. I've mounted small 1" desks perpendicularly to the shelves. I've mounted them with screws. Once again a little shortcut, because they won't be visible :)

Step 9: Finish - Stain and Lacquer

I've used glaze with stain (I don't know if such thing is available all over the world, so If You don't know what I'm writing about, You can use mordant or varnish), then primer lacquer and at last normal polyurethane lacquer.
Why this ? Because I've had that in my workshop. To be honest, I'would rather to use water lacquers instead of polyurethane one, because it gives more flat and mat glossy layer and it is easier to put using painting brush/roller (or brush).

In my project I've used painting rollers (no brush or spray). They can be made from foam or from standard material but with short hairs (I don't know exact English name for that).

Step 10: The End - Shoe Cabinet Is Now Ready!

That's all. Now You can enjoy the shoe cabinet.

If You don't understand all instructions or have some questions, please watch the movie attached to this instructable. It could give You more clues. If You still don't know something - write a comment and I will answer.

Thank You for reading/watching. Remember to subscribe my instructables or/and my youtube channel. I will be very grateful :)

Oh, If You don't have all needed devices shown in this tutorial, just remember that all work could be made manually using few sort of hand saws, screwdriver and sanding paper..

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    4 Discussions


    3 years ago

    That came beautifully, well done!

    The English word for the paint roller material is called "nap".


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks, I always thought that nap is only short sleep.


    3 years ago

    Lovely job! Thanks for sharing!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks for appreciating.