Built-in alcove or closet shelves are an easy woodworking project
This article was updated on 10/08/20.
There never seems to be enough storage space in closets and alcoves; that's just a fact of life. Likewise, many people acquire collectibles as a hobby. Eventually the display space runs out. Some alcove shelving might be just the answer. Another situation is storing all those bulky winter jackets and sweaters.
Adding more shelving is an easy woodworking project and can be much more economical than buying plastic or wire shelving from Walmart or Home Depot. Since were working with small spaces, we can rely on the support of three walls to make a sturdy storage surface.
Were not talking about your baseball shoes here. These cleats are the 1 X 2 (2.54 cm X 5.08 cm) boards mentioned in the material list. Theyre installed horizontally and support the shelf. Well be installing 3 of them per shelf, one spanning the rear wall and one on either side wall.
Decide on the height that works best. Dont forget that the thickness of your shelf material is important since the finished horizontal surface will be that much taller than the upper edge of the cleats.
Carefully measure the length of the back wall and use your saw to cut a cleat to fit it.
Set the cleat in place and hold your level on the bottom side. Adjust it until its level. Draw a reference line with a pencil along the upper edge of the cleat on the wall.
Lay your cleat aside. Use your stud finder to find the wall studs and make a corresponding small pencil mark just above the reference line.
Place the cleat back on the wall, mark the stud locations on it, take it off and drill pilot holes.
Now use the drill and screwdriver bit to secure the cleat to the wall.
Repeat the above steps for the remaining 2 cleats.
Cut and Install the Shelf
As you probably know, with residential wood framing, drywall corners are rarely perfectly perpendicular. Because of this, well check the 2 corners at the top of the cleats with a sliding bevel. Hopefully, it will be close enough to square that the shelf can be cut that way. Remaining gaps may be covered up later with paintable caulk.
If this isnt the case, you can use the angle found with the sliding bevel to cut the shelf to fit closely. Cut the shelf and install it. Many times, it can just be set in place. Otherwise, drill a couple of pilot holes on each side and secure it with screws.
Finally, do any wood putty work, then prime and paint the wood. That's all there is to building and installing closet or alcove shelves.
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About the Author:
Kelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.