How to Build Wood Shelves in a Closet

Are you looking for the perfect way to organize your closet? Building wood shelves is a great way to add much-needed storage space. It’s an easy project to help you make the most of your closet’s limited space.

How to Build Wood Shelves in a Closet

If you’re looking for a straightforward way to get organized and free up extra space in your home, the answer is probably installing wood shelves in one (or more!) of your closets. Such an easy yet effective project can transform any closet into an organized, enhanced storage unit that meets all your needs.

You’ll be surprised at the huge difference just simple shelving makes – not only will everything have its designated spot, but you’ll also find it’s much easier to access what you need once the shelves are installed. Read on as we describe how to build wood shelves in a closet from start to finish!

What Will You Need?

Before you begin building shelves in your closet, it’s helpful to understand what materials and tools are needed. You’ll need the following:

  1. Wood planks (the length of which will depend on the size of your closet)
  2. Plywood boards (which should be cut into rectangles to fit within the width of the plank)
  3. Screws
  4. Wood glue
  5. A drill and drill bit
  6. Hammer and nails

Once you have all the necessary materials, it’s time to begin building!

10 Easy Steps on How to Build Wood Shelves in a Closet

Step 1: Measure Your Closet

Before you start your project, make sure to measure the closet walls and floor. This will give you an idea of how much space you have available for your shelves. As you measure, mark the walls with a pencil or piece of tape to indicate where the shelf should be placed.

Mark the Walls With 
A Pencil or Piece of Tape

Step 2: Cut Your Wood Planks

Cut the wood planks into desired lengths using a saw or circular saw. Be sure to take measurements twice to ensure accuracy! If you’re installing multiple shelves, remember to measure the distance between each shelf.

Step 3: Attach the Plywood Boards

Using glue and screws, attach the plywood boards onto each plank. Make sure that they fit snugly on all sides. Try to keep everything level as you go.

Step 4: Place Wood Planks in the Closet

Place the pre-cut wood planks inside your closet where you’d like them installed. Make sure that they fit securely against the walls and floor. If needed, you can use a hammer and nails to secure the planks.

Step 5: Secure Planks to Walls

Secure each plank to the wall using screws or nails. If you’re using screws, ensure they are installed correctly so there’s no risk of them coming loose. Be careful not to drill any wiring or other objects behind the wall.

Secure Each Plank to 
The Wall Using Screws or Nails

Step 6: Place Plywood Boards on the Top

Place plywood boards on top of the planks. Ensure they fit snugly and securely against the walls and floor before securing them with wood glue and screws. Otherwise, the shelves could come loose.

Step 7: Measure Again for Accuracy

Re-measure your closet space to ensure everything fits properly before installing additional shelves. Double-check all measurements for accuracy! Keep in mind that you may need to make further adjustments if needed.

Step 8: Attach Additional Shelves

Attach additional shelves if needed. Measure twice and attach securely with wood glue and screws. Remember that each shelf’s width should be slightly bigger than the plank so that it fits securely against the wall.

Step 9: Add Finishing Touches

Add any finishing touches you’d like to complete the look of your closet shelves. This could include adding decorative molding or painting your shelves. Check out some of our favorite ideas here.

Step 10: Enjoy Your New Closet Shelves!

Sit back and admire your newly-built wood closet shelves! Now you have plenty of storage space for all of your items, making it easy to stay organized. Remember to go back and check on your shelves from time to time, making sure that everything is still securely in place.

These step-by-step instructions help you gain confidence as you build wood shelves in a closet! With a few simple tools, some basic materials, and a little patience, you’ll have a beautiful and functional storage space in no time.

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

1. If you are limited in your closet space, consider a custom shelving unit designed to fit between two walls. This will help maximize the use of every inch and provide the most storage possible.

2. Take measurements multiple times before making any cuts or purchases. A few extra minutes of measuring can prevent costly mistakes down the line.

Take Measurements 
Multiple Times

3. Consider purchasing pre-cut wood pieces if you feel uncomfortable cutting them yourself. This can save time and ensure accuracy when putting together your shelf unit.

4. Use corner braces to secure the shelves into place for additional stability and support once installed in the closet.

5. Add trim around the edges of the shelves for an attractive finish and to hide any imperfections that may have occurred during the installation process.

By following these tips and tricks, you can be sure to successfully build wood shelves in your closet for a long-lasting and attractive storage solution.

5 Things You Should Avoid

1. Avoid using inferior quality wood pieces that may not hold up over time. Invest in good quality wood for the best results.

2. Don’t forget to double check measurements and make sure they are as accurate as possible before making any purchases or cuts.

3. Steer clear of nails when assembling your shelves, as this can be a weak connection point and potentially cause the shelves to fall apart over time.

4. Don’t skip out on reinforcing materials like corner braces – these are important steps that will ensure your shelf unit is safe and secure once installed in the closet space.

5. Avoid overcrowding your shelf unit with too many items to prevent it from becoming unstable or tipping over.

By avoiding these common pitfalls when building wood shelves in a closet, you can be sure to achieve the desired results with an attractive and long-lasting storage solution.

5 Different Design Ideas

1. Use a combination of open and closed shelving for a modern look. This will create a balance between visual interest and storage needs.

2. Install shelves at different heights for an eye-catching look. This can also provide more storage options and accommodate various items.

3. Create a pullout shelf unit for easier access to items stored at the back of the closet. This is especially helpful if your closet is on the narrower side.

Create a Pullout
Shelf Unit

4. Add decorative features such as crown molding or trim to give the shelves an attractive finish and to hide any imperfections that may have occurred during installation.

5. Opt for floating shelves if you want a sleek and modern design statement in your closet space. This will free up floor space while still providing ample storage solutions.

Whether you are looking for something sleek and modern, or something more traditional and functional, these design ideas will help you create the perfect wood shelving system for your closet.

What Kind of Wood Do You Use to Build Closet Shelves?

When building wood shelves for a closet, the most common type of wood is pine or cedar. Pine is widely available and inexpensive, making it an ideal choice for budget-conscious projects. 

Cedar has a more attractive grain pattern and is slightly more expensive than pine, but it’s also rot-resistant and highly durable. Both types of wood are easy to work with, so either option can be used depending on your desired look and budget. Consider using plywood instead of solid boards for added stability in larger shelves. Plywood sheets offer greater structural support while providing an attractive look to the finished shelf unit.

No matter which type of wood you choose, ensure all pieces are properly sealed or treated before installation to protect them from wood rot or insect damage.

What is the Best Finish for Closet Shelves?

The best finish for closet shelves depends on the wood you use and your desired look. Consider staining the wood with a light or medium stain if you want a natural, rustic look. Opt for a clear sealant or glossy paint for a more modern feel. Additionally, if you want an extra layer of protection against water damage, consider applying polyurethane over the top of your chosen finish. This will help protect the wood from environmental elements further while creating an attractive final product.

No matter which type of finish you choose, be sure to apply two coats for maximum protection and durability. You may also want to sand between each coat to ensure each layer adheres properly.


In conclusion, removing wood stains from the plastic can be frustrating and aggravating. However, with perseverance and the right products, achieving success is attainable. Utilizing the methods outlined above, you should be able to remove even the most stubborn of wood stains from any plastic surface.

With careful attention to process and outcome, you should have no problem restoring your plastic surfaces. Don’t forget: Always use an appropriate safety mask and gloves when using harsh chemical products for wood stain removal! 

This guide has offered you enough information on how to build wood shelves in a closet. You can create a beautiful and long-lasting storage solution for any space with careful measurements and the proper materials. Be sure to choose the right type of wood, apply two coats of finish, and use reinforcing materials like corner braces for added stability. Thanks for reading! Good luck with your project, and stay safe!

Photo of author

Jennifer Branett

Leave a Comment