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Pantry Shelves

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Project by Justin posted 12-07-2015 04:57 PM 1863 views 9 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

First project here. My wife thought a functional pantry closet would be a wonderful thing. I set about designing the shelving in SolidWorks (I work at an engineering firm) and after a few iterations we chose this design. The construction is quite simple but I think it’s an approach that works well for spaces that are both narrow & deep. This closet is almost square at roughly 28” wide by 24” deep.

I was afraid if the main shelf was too deep, the stuff that got pushed to the back would be hard to see and even harder to access. At the same time I didn’t want to give up the valuable space on the sides by just making straight shelves across the back. An added bonus is the very top shelf would be unusable if it was deep, but in this configuration it’s very easy to reach up there and put away or fetch larger, seldom used items.

I wanted to set it up with one tall shelf for cereal boxes to fit nicely while the rest would be close enough together that things wouldn’t getting stacked up on each other too much. We settled on 12” apart, top-surface to top-surface, except for the one at 15” for tall boxes. This seems to have worked out perfectly.

I cut the main shelves 12” deep and set them all aside. The wings are 10” x 8”, and the arc is a 5.75” radius. I cut the rectangular blanks on the table saw and then cut the arc with a jigsaw. The jigsaw cut was pretty rough so I smoothed out & squared the radius cut with a cheap-o drum sander mounted in the drill press.

Studs were few and far between inside this closet. I was able to hit one stud mid-span on each of the cleats but the ends were a challenge. I ended up running a pocket screw hole into the end of the side cleats, then drilling a pilot hole deeper through the rear cleat. I screwed a 3-inch cabinet screw into this hole to tie the ends of both cleats into the corner framing that was hiding back there. For the front ends of the side cleats I used pocket screws again, and screwed them into the casework of the door frame. This use of the pocket screws was much more successful than the butt joints, in my opinion.

The hardest part was scribing and fitting the assembled shelves to the plaster walls. The walls were far from flat, straight, or square. Once I got the lower two shelves mounted I sat on one as a sag test. It felt super solid, so I figure it should be more than adequate for anything we might pile up in there.

This was my first time using pocket screws, and although I’m sure they have their moments I am not necessarily a fan. My plan was always to dowel the shelf parts together but in the interest of efficiency I opted for the little Kreg Mini jig. I used glue (of course) and two opposing screws out in the unsupported area of the joint, and one more where it would be hidden by the shelf support cleat. In this application I think the pockets screws were an OK choice, but they seem to have their problems. I had some trouble keeping the joints flat at times, even with multiple clamps and cauls. Some of the joints also tried to buckle a little bit. I may have been overtightening the screws, or maybe pocket screws are not good at butt joints. Need to play with them a bit more.

Materials are Sandeply 3/4” from Home Depot and Birch iron-on edge banding. Cleats are 1×2 pine stock right off the rack. Assembly is Titebond II and pocket screws. I sanded the plywood with 220 grit on a random orbital sander, and finished it very simply with Johnson’s paste wax, applied medium-heavy and buffed out. The result is impressively silky and smooth.

There are six shelves altogether, with the bottom shelf having no wings. I have models drawn for a couple of tip-out vegetable bins to go in those spaces, so I’ll update this project if I end up making them.

I definitely screwed up the grain direction on some of the shelves. If I did this again I would definitely pay closer attention to that.

Comments welcome and appreciated.





10 comments so far

View Matthew Eye's profile

Matthew Eye

94 posts in 833 days


#1 posted 12-07-2015 06:44 PM

Hey great project. I can really see the benefit of your design. Thank you for the detailed project description and explanation. +1 for including the wife in the planning!

-- "When it comes to working on stuff, buying more tools usually helps" - Matthew Eye

View Valkiera's profile

Valkiera

7 posts in 1198 days


#2 posted 12-07-2015 06:52 PM

Nicely done, and with the shelf planning, things don’t get “lost” in the deep dark corners usually found in pantries.

View Justin's profile

Justin

14 posts in 394 days


#3 posted 12-07-2015 07:16 PM

Thanks for comments guys. Here’s a screen capture of the “modular” potato bin idea. This is done in SolidWorks but Sketchup works well too.

View VAnative's profile

VAnative

38 posts in 410 days


#4 posted 12-07-2015 07:53 PM

Nice work on the shelves. I also like the potato bin idea and how it creates more shelf space too. I just hope nothing gets lost behind it.

-- Don't be upset by the results you didn't get with the work you didn't do.

View toddbeaulieu's profile

toddbeaulieu

781 posts in 2469 days


#5 posted 12-08-2015 01:38 PM

Good work, Justin. I did a very similar project in my home with solid oak shelves. It really transforms the closet, doesn’t it?

I spent HOURS trying to over engineer them. At one point I was thinking of sliding partitions with shelves. Ha ha. Dope.

View Justin's profile

Justin

14 posts in 394 days


#6 posted 12-08-2015 01:48 PM

Thanks Todd. I’m frequently guilty of over-engineering things. I modeled the shelves in CAD for Pete’s sake! At least I didn’t try to run FEA on them… :-)

Have you seen Mattias Wandel’s projects? He’s got the same disease real bad.


Good work, Justin. I did a very similar project in my home with solid oak shelves. It really transforms the closet, doesn t it?

I spent HOURS trying to over engineer them. At one point I was thinking of sliding partitions with shelves. Ha ha. Dope.

- toddbeaulieu


View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

7482 posts in 1472 days


#7 posted 12-08-2015 02:23 PM

Hmmm, just saw this on facebook and posted this reply. Didn’t realize who it was till I clicked on the link. :-)
.

I did this at a previous house we had. At first I was going to just put full width shelves, but realized that we would just fill the shelves, and things at the back of the shelf would be covered up, lost and/or forgotten. So I did like you did here and the pantry became MUCH MORE user-friendly. Good job !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Justin's profile

Justin

14 posts in 394 days


#8 posted 12-08-2015 02:26 PM

Thanks! Where on Facebook? Got a link? I didn’t post anywhere but here.


Hmmm, just saw this on facebook and posted this reply. Didn t realize who it was till I clicked on the link. :-)
.

I did this at a previous house we had. At first I was going to just put full width shelves, but realized that we would just fill the shelves, and things at the back of the shelf would be covered up, lost and/or forgotten. So I did like you did here and the pantry became MUCH MORE user-friendly. Good job !

- JoeinGa


View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

23181 posts in 2332 days


#9 posted 12-08-2015 03:22 PM

Justin, you’ve done a very nice job on these. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View ohwoodeye's profile

ohwoodeye

1740 posts in 2618 days


#10 posted 12-08-2015 07:02 PM

I can’t see it getting any more efficient that this.
Very well done.

-- Directions are just the Manufacturer's opinion on how something should be assembled. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

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