Closet Rebuild #2: Done.

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Blog entry by Jeff posted 07-03-2007 07:42 AM 11189 reads 5 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Shelf Pin Jig Part 2 of Closet Rebuild series no next part

Well, I never did have the time to post the progress of this project as the actual progress occurred but it was completed and now I have a few moments to finish up this series and check it off my list.

This project was much more time consuming than I anticipated but a good learning experience as it had several challenges. I’m relatively proud of it and KT loves it as we have a closet again (our clothes have been hanging from a hand rail supported by the two sides of our loft balcony since the debacle with the previous shelving.

It should help with the appeal of the loft when we put the condo on the market next week. I need all of you to think positive thoughts for us as we try to sell a condo in a buyer’s market…

Challenge #1: Maximizing the usage of space in an odd closet space.
Since the walls of this thing weren’t built with the greatest of care and there are only two studs on a 60” wall, I wanted to build something that would provide decent storage for a plethora of shoes yet provide sturdy support for an abundance of clothes. It also had to not put too much lateral strain on the back wall (since it wouldn’t be bolting to a stud). I settled on this for a basic design. Pretty simple, right? A rigid, one-piece tower that could support four 24” rods without a problem. I never suspected it would take as long as it did. It shouldn’t have, but I’m such a novice.
SketchUp plan for the loft closet

Challenge #2: Getting all the glue off the case after the face frame glue up.
The evening I glued the Cherry face frame pieces on I got lazy and thought I would have little trouble scraping the squeeze-out off. WRONG. I had small even beads but they just did not want to let go of that Birch veneer. It took me the better part of a Saturday afternoon to get them cleaned up. 80” is a lot of pasture when you have to do it 4 times without a belt sander.
Nasty glue squeeze out!

Challenge #3: No two walls in the space are even close to square. Neither is the floor.
Did I mention the closet was constructed without a lot of care or attention to craftsmanship? The back wall gradually recedes away from the front towareds the back left-hand corner. So much so, that the change is more than 1/2 inch over the 12” width of the cabinet. This was enough to make it blatantly obvious if I was to install the cabinet flush to the back wall. When you looked down at the floor, the planks in the hardwood floor made it apparent. I had to install it ‘square’ to the sides of the closet anyway or I would have problems with mounting the rods.

I also had a similar issue with the floor. This I can understand more easily, joists sag over time and repeated sanding and refinishing of the floor over the years can cause such a slope away from the baseboard. The pedestal/toe-kick you can see in the sketch was the way to handle that. I just used a handy profile gauge to mark the slope. The back wall and floor ended up giving me more than one headache though.

I decided the pedestal/toe-kick was too tall and all I really needed was the piece I had cut off with the bandsaw. I would flip it and cut off about two inches on the end that would be situated towards the back wall of the closet (basically a U shaped shim). This ultimately worked great as I ended up with more headroom above the cabinet. This would prove invaluable for the next challenge.
Floor shim - view 1

Floor shim - view 2

Challenge #4: Anchoring the case to the wall.
I had originally decided to use some corner braces but use them as an anchoring brace. I decided this was too tacky and secondly, the side the farthest from the wall would only get one screw into the case. Unacceptable. I decided to make a French cleat and would resaw the cleat to ensure I had a snug fit between the case and the wall. I positioned everything and used my 4 foot level to make sure it was square and took off for the shop. A one hour round trip for a 20 minute visit to the shop because I was trying to get this thing done. I was tired of working on it and wanted to move on to something I wanted to do.

The resaw of a piece of 2×4 went just fine and then I set the tablesaw for a 45deg cut. Rip. Done. Back in the car and on the way home. I was feeling pretty good. This thing would be done soon.

About half way home, I picked up the cleat sitting in the seat and looked at it to see if I would have to do a lot of clean up on the end grain. It was at this time I noticed I ripped the stupid thing from the wrong end! Aaaggghhh! I couldn’t just flip it end for end because it wasn’t the same thickness due to the slope of the wall… You should have seen me turning this thing around and around trying to convince myself I had not screwed up. Pretty comical I’m sure.

What to do?! Cut another cleat. Nope. I wouldn’t be going back to the shop for a week (it’s not in my backyard or garage). I decided to use 3 dowels down through the cleat since the wall not only slopes away to the left side but slopes back as you near the ceiling. This ultimately worked out pretty well. Since the cleat (now a wall shim) was upside down, it allowed me to slide the case up into the cleat at an angle (to the wall) and then slide the floor shim in under it for a snug fit with no play.
French cleat/wall shim

Here’s the finished product, installed.
Completed Closet

Whew! What a saga. I didn’t even include my goofs. I’m glad to have this one behind me.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

8 comments so far

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3418 days

#1 posted 07-03-2007 08:58 AM

Holy moly – what a story! It sure came out nice in the end! When your condo sells, will you move to a place where you can have your shop?

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 3598 days

#2 posted 07-03-2007 09:13 AM

Jeff, fun isn’t it – trying to make things work in an environment where nothing is level or square. It make me appreciate shipwrights even more.

Nice outcome, though.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 3582 days

#3 posted 07-03-2007 12:13 PM

((sending good vibes re: sale… sending good vibes… sending good vibes))

The end result is wonderful!!! Well done.
Lots of tips for us newbies as well.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View oscorner's profile


4564 posts in 3732 days

#4 posted 07-03-2007 12:57 PM

Jeff, thanks for the play by play of your challenges. I think everyone or just about all of us have had the frustration of working with unsquare walls. They are so much fun as you discribed. It looks like you overcame all these obsticles with flying colors and your closet turned out great. By the way, that was a lot of squeeze out! LOL.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View WayneC's profile


12642 posts in 3519 days

#5 posted 07-03-2007 02:43 PM

It came out great and looks to be very functional. I could use one in my closet.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 3507 days

#6 posted 07-03-2007 04:20 PM

Looks good Jeff. Seems like I’m always doing that kind of stuff as well. I always thought it was because I was a hack. My son-in-law tells me it’s pretty typical.

Nice Sketchup work!

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View Jeff's profile


1011 posts in 3515 days

#7 posted 07-04-2007 12:11 AM

Thanks for the positive reinforcement gang. It truly is nice to read these comments.

Thanks for the vibage, Debbie.

Dorje, you better believe our new place will have space for a shop. This is just a temporary solution. I hope to find one with a detached garage or even an outbuilding that could be converted.

Thanks for the props on the Sketchup, Bob. I’m about to do one for my bench.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View woodspar's profile


710 posts in 3521 days

#8 posted 07-04-2007 02:36 AM

The outbuilding…the holy grail…

Nice job Jeff! Good luck with the sale.

-- John

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