Wednesday, January 16, 2013

DIY Closet Organizer Plans For 5' to 8' Closet

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Free woodworking plans to build a custom closet organizer for wide reach-in closets. Can be customized to suit your needs and budget.

Over the years I've been redoing many of the closets in my home. The closets previously contained a single rod and shelf which didn't provide efficient use of space. These plans were inspired by the ClosetMaid Selectives 25 in. White Custom Closet Organizer which I have installed in a couple of closets.

I was planning on making some modifications to the closets and wanted to see what I could come up with if I built everything myself. Depending on the plywood I used I could either save significant money and or come up with a more attractive and better quality closet organizer.

Dimensions

Use these plans as a guide and customize the organizer to suit your needs. It should work well for reach-in closets 5' to 8' in length. You can modify the dimensions as you see fit.

The main cabinet dimensions as planned is 84" height, 25-1/4" width and 15" depth. The plans show it installed in a 6' wide 2' deep closet.

What You'll Need

Materials

Tools

Cut List

Depending on the size of your closet and any modifications you choose to make your cut list may be different.
  • (2) 84" x 15" 3/4 Plywood Sides
  • (6) 23-3/4" x 15" 3/4" Plywood Shelves (7 if your closet is 6' wide or less)
  • (1) 72" x 15" 3/4" Plywood Top Shelf
  • (2) 18-3/4" x 15" 3/4" Plywood Shoe Rack Shelves
  • (2) 23-3/4" x 2-5/8" 3/4" Plywood Nailers
  • (1) 23-3/4" x 3-1/2" 3/4" Plywood Top Nailer
  • (5) 15" x 3-1/2" 3/4" Plywood Side Brackets
  • (1) 27-1/4" x 3-1/2" 3/4" Plywood Top Shelf Support (Left)
  • (1) 18" x 3-1/2" 3/4" Plywood Top Shelf Support (Right)
  • (1) 23-1/2" x 5-1/4" 3/4" Plywood Drawer 1 Front
  • (2) 23-1/2" x 10" 3/4" Plywood Drawer 2 Fronts
  • (2) 12-3/4" x 4" 1/2" Plywood Drawer Box 1 Sides
  • (2) 1' 9-3/4" x 4" 1/2" Plywood Drawer Box 1 Front/Back
  • (4) 12-3/4" x 8-3/4" 1/2" Plywood Drawer Box 2 Sides
  • (4) 1' 9-3/4" x 8-3/4" 1/2" Plywood Drawer Box 2 Front/Back
  • (3) 12-1/8" x 22-1/8" 1/4" Plywood Drawer Box Bottoms

Cut Plan

Depending on the size of your closet and any modifications to the plans you choose to make your cut plan may need to be different. . Cut the back shelf supports, top shelf and shoe shelves a little longer than necessary and trim them to size during installation.

3/4" Plywood

The main components of the closet organizer are constructed of 2 4' x 8' sheets of 3/4" plywood which will provide for a very strong closet system. 

1/2" Plywood

The 1/2" plywood is used to construct the drawer boxes. You'll need 2 2' x 4' Sheet. A good choice is PureBond 1/4" Maple Plywood


1/4" Plywood

For the drawer bottoms you'll need 1 2' x 4' sheet of 1/4" plywood or tempered hardboard.

Finishing

You can choose to paint or stain/finish the plywood any way you'd like. If you're painting use low VOC primers and paints and if you're staining/finishing use water based stains and finishes to prevent your clothes from smelling. Oil based paints, stains and finishes tend to out gas for a long period of time and being in a confined space like a closet will concentrate the smell which will be absorbed in your clothing.

After you cut out all the pieces paint or stain/finish the components before assembly. It will make the installation go a lot quicker. Before finishing read the entire plan to understand which edges should be edgebanded before finishing.

Why Install A Closet Organizer?

If you live in an older home, the closets may not be as big as you'd like which means it's important to get as much out of the space as possible. The single rod and shelf configuration that existed in my closets wasn't cutting it. One of my closets was 6' wide which meant I had 6' of rod space and 6 linear feet of shelf space. By installing a closet organizer I preserved my rod space but doubled my shelf space.  It makes it easier to find what I'm looking for and helps keep my clothes from getting wrinkled when bunched close together.

Why Build When You can Buy?

There are many different closet organizers you can buy. The ClosetMaid Selectives Organizer I've installed are pretty nice and not too expensive but you only get a basic closet organizer system. Adding accessories to  make it more useful starts to bring up the price tag. Building my own will save some money.

The ClosetMaid Selectives organizer is constructed of 5/8" melamine coated particle board and I have installed some 5/8" melamine coated Closet Maid shelves as well. In one closet I am storing some heavier items and even with a span of only 26" there is noticeable deflection (bending). Building a closet organizer out of 3/4" sheet goods will make it sturdier and using something like PureBond hardwood veneer plywood can result in a more attractive closet that is also formaldehyde free.

Of course being able to customize the closet organizer is also a very attractive reason for building one yourself.

What Type Of Plywood To use?

At a minimum I would recommend 5/8" thick sheet goods but 3/4" is preferred and usually easier to find. Hardwood veneered plywood is stronger and a more attractive option. Since most of the organizer will be covered with clothes you don't need to get the more expensive cabinet grade plywood. The domestic plywood available at Home Depot, such as PureBond is a good choice. If you like the scent of cedar on your clothes and the purported insect and mildew resisting properties you might want to consider making the organizer out of 3/4" aromatic cedar plywood if you can find it. 3/4" MDF (medium density fiberboard) is a little cheaper if you plan on painting it. Melamine coated particle board is also affordable and you don't have to worry about finishing the panels. Some people like the melamine coating because it's easy to keep clean and saves some time by not having to worry about painting or finishing. Particle board isn't as strong and durable as MDF or better yet plywood. In the end you should get what your taste and budget allows for.

Step 1

Edgebanding should be applied to the front edge of both Side pieces and the bottom of the top Nailer. You can edgeband the bottom of the other two nailers if you'd like but chances are you'll never see those edges.

Having already cut and finished the plywood components it's time to start assembling the closet organizer cabinet. Lay one of the Side pieces on a flat work surface and attach the 3 nailers as shown using pocket holes and screws. The 3.5" nailer gets install flush with the top of the Side panel. The 2 2-5/8" nailers get installed at 14-3/4" and 41-1/4" from the bottom.

The nailers provide support to the cabinet as well as a structure to secure it to the wall.

You'll notice that a small notch is cut at the back/bottom of the side panel. This is to accommodate for the baseboard installed in the closet so that the organizer can sit flush against the back wall. The measurements for this cut will depend on the size of your baseboards. You don't have to be very precise and scribe the exact profile as this part will be hard to see.

Step 2

Install the 2 Fixed Shelves. The fronts of the shelves should be edgebanded before finishing. These shelves help give the organizer strength. They are installed on top of the 2 thin nailers that were installed in the previous step. Use pocket holes and screws to secure the Fixed Shelves to the organizer Side piece.

Step 3

Now attach the other Side piece securing it to the Nailers and Fixed Shelves using pocket holes and screws.

Step 4

With the main cabinet frame of the closet organizer assembled you can begin to start installing your closet organizer. 

Position the organizer in your closet where you'd like it depending on how much double and single rod area you prefer. This organizer doesn't work that well with sliding closet doors because most people will want to install this close to the center which will be blocked by the doors. Installing bi-fold closet doors will give you more access into your closet but you might also be able to get away with installing the organizer more towards one side if you don't need a lot of long hanging area for example.

Once you have the organizer positioned where you'd like make sure it's level and secure it to the wall by driving 3-1/2" wood screws through the nailers into the wall studs. 

Step 5

The side brackets help support the shelves and provide a secure surface to attach the closet rods.

Attach the Side Brackets that support the closet rods and shelves to the side walls. The plan calls for these brackets to be 15" long. Before you cut them out check the stud locations on your walls to see if you might need to make them a little longer to be able to screw them securely into 2 studs.

All the supports except one should be edge banded on the front and bottom. One of the supports which gets installed on the lower rod area of the double rod section (left in picture) should be edgebanded on three sides, top, bottom and front before finishing.

The back of the supports should be up against the back wall of the closet. On the double rod side two supports are installed at 42" and 84" above the floor. On the single rod side three nailers are installed. One for the closet rod at 84" above the floor and two at 7" and 14-3/4" above the floor for the shoe rack.

Make sure the supports are level and secure them into the studs using 3-1/2" wood screws.

Step 6

The Top Shelf Supports only need to be edgebanded along the bottom edge.

You should have cut these out a few inches longer than your plan had called for. Measure and trim them to size and screw them into the studs on the back wall using 3-1/2" wood screws making sure they're level.

Step 7

Cut the closet rod into three pieces of appropriate length for your installation. You'll need a hacksaw for metal rods.

I chose to design this closet organizer using chrome oval closet rods because I think the oval rods have a nicer appearance. The ClosetMaid organizer comes with adjustable closet rods which are convenient but because there are two pieces the rod is not smooth and hangers get hung up in the center. Custom cutting a rod to the exact size will eliminate that annoyance.

Drill holes for the pins on the closet rod flanges onto the appropriate spots on the side supports and organizer sides and secure them with screws. On the side supports the flange should be installed so the top-center of the rod should be 1-1/2" below the top of the side support and 12" from the back wall (not the back support).


On the cabinet side the flange should be installed so the top-center of the rod is 12" away from the back wall and 82-1/2" above the floor for the top rods and 40-1/2" above the floor for the lower rod. If everything else was installed accurately and level the rod should also be level but double check for level before screwing into the cabinet.

Once your closet rods are installed your organizer should look like this.

Step 8

Using a jig like the KREG Shelf Pin Drilling Jig drill holes for the adjustable shelf pins. Position the pins where you'd like and install the adjustable shelves. The shelves should be edgebanded on the front prior to finishing.

With the adjustable shelves installed trim the top shelf to length and place it on top of the organizer. Secure the top shelf in place with 1-1/2" wood screws into the top of the organizer sides and the supports around the edge. This will help stabilize the organizer cabinet and prevent the shelf from moving. Pre-drill and countersink the screws to prevent them from snagging any items placed on the shelf. A combination pilot hole and counter-sink bit set like the DEWALT DW2535 3 Piece #6, #8, and #10 Countersink Assortment comes in handy.

Attach the shelves for the shoe rack as shown, screwing from the top down into the side supports and using pocket hole screws to attach to the side of the cabinet. If you'd like to add more strength to these shelves if you anticipate people might try to stand on them to reach the top shelf for example, you can add additional bracing by installing a side bracket on the cabinet side.

Step 9

Drawers add convenience and a nicer appearance to the closet organizer but you can save a significant amount of money by omitting them and just installing more shelves. The cut plan accounts for extra shelves. One of the things I didn't like about the ClosetMaid Selectives closet organizer kit I purchased was that it didn't have a lot of shelves and necessitated purchasing either more shelves or drawers to make up for it which added to the cost.

If you choose to omit the drawers you'll save money by not having to buy the additional 1/2" and 1/4" plywood for the drawer box construction as well as the drawer slides and drawer pulls.  Instead you can add shelf pin holes and 2 adjustable shelves for added shoe storage.


One of the biggest cost benefits however comes from building your own drawers. For what it costs to buy just one of ClosetMaid's drawer kits you can build all three drawers for our DIY closet organizer.

There are 3 drawers in the plan. One 5-1/4" and two 10" drawers that get installed in the lower section of the closet organizer. You can choose any drawer pulls you'd like.

The drawer fronts should be edgebanded on all 4 sides.

Three drawer boxes are needed based on the design and drawer slides selected:
  • (1) 4" H x 1' 10-3/4" W x 12-3/4" D
  • (2) 8-3/4" H x 1' 10-3/4" W x 12-3/4" D
For instructions on construction please see my article on how to build drawer boxes.

Once the drawers are installed this is what your finished organizer should look like.

14 comments:

  1. Great plan for an easy build organizer..... Couple of your measurements are off, first one I see is in dimensions you have the width listed at 25-3/4" you shelf's are cut at 23-3/4" and the frame on each side being 3/4" would add up to 25-1/4" no big deal there the next one is in the cut plan section and is a big deal and could cost others using your plan some money on bad cuts as you have you drawer box fronts and backs width listed at 9-3/4" the cabinet opening is 23-3/4" take off 1" each side 1/2" for slider and 1/2" for drawer side so the cut should be 21-3/4" and the last measurement mistake I found was step 9 which has the drawer box listed at being 10-3/4" width.... Pretty much the plan I had in my head when I was looking to build a closet organizer you just saved me a whole lot of time having to draw up the plans so thanks much.... =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bearskin,

      Thanks for catching that and letting me know. I made the changes to the plans. Somewhere along the way I missed a 1' and it got replicated through the drawer plans.

      I always measure and cut the drawers after I know the actual opening dimensions since sometimes things don't always go as planned.

      I also shortened the depth by an inch to give it more clearance against the back wall and nailer. This changes the length of the drawer slides as well. That's updated in the plans now.

      Glad you found the plans useful and once again thank you for spotting the issues.

      Delete
  2. I'm in the process of planning a closet upgrade, and your plans are extremely helpful. I just wanted to give you a huge thanks for spending the time putting those images together. They've really helped me cement my plan.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice work! I'm getting ready to tackle a few closet organizer projects myself, and stumbled upon your plans while looking for ideas. Definitely a few things here I'll be modifying to fit my particular closets. I was wondering what program you used to make your layout diagrams for your cut list. Looks like that would be quite helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Rocketman69. I make the cut lists in Sketchup by just laying out the components until I get good utilization of the boards. It's a little time consuming but reduces waste. There's a sketchup plugin for cut lists which works okay in some instances but not thrilled with it.

      Delete
  4. I am planning to replace my builder grade wire shelf. Your plan looks very good. I love the fact that the plan is very well written, a lot of details, which will prevent me from making tons of mistakes!

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  5. How fantastic! And kind of you, to post this. I've been hoping to make one of these for my mother this summer and well, you just made it possible! :)

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  6. Thanks for the specs and sketches, they are great. How did you draw the oval closet rods in SketchUp? I don't see an existing object in the 3D Warehouse.

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  7. Really thankful for putting the information out and making me believe that I too can build this one. Will start tomorrow after buying the material this evening. I have one question - How do you keep the pieces square while putting them together? Do you use clamps or corner clamps?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Rajesh. See my post on making square cabinets for tips on keeping the closet organizer square.

      Delete
  8. Can these be made as floating 1ft above the ground? We have carpet now and plan to change it in near future. Having a floating design would make chaging easier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rajesh, Sorry for the delay in responding. I could have sworn I replied. Been having problems posting comments lately.

      I wouldn't recommend this design for floating above ground. It's probably doable but would require a little more reinforcement and some more screws into studs.

      If I were you, what I would do is cut the carpet at the door of the closet and remove it. Put some hard type of flooring in the closet instead. Carpet in closets is a pin. It traps dirt and when you do remove it it will create a lot of dust that will get on your clothes so you'll have to empty out your closet anyway when doing the switch. If you put new carpet in the closet that new carpet smell will get in your clothes too. I'm really not a fan of carpets in closets.

      Delete
  9. Tom - Please respond to my last message from 7/16.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rajesh,

      Were u able to build the closet organizers yourself? What kind is saw did you use, table or circular? Any challenges?

      Delete

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