Easy Pantry Shelving

easy pantry shelving
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This is the easiest and quickest way to build pantry shelving - can also be used for linen closets or nook shelving.  Step by step tutorial from Ana-White.com

Do you want to convert a closet to pantry shelving, but worry it will be a big project?  It doesn't have to be!

By myself, I converted an 8' coat closet into a four shelf pantry, for about $180!

Video Tutorial

You can watch the video tutorial or use the step by step guide below.

What Type of Wood Do I Need?

You'll need support under the shelves.  The most economical is 1x3 furring strips.  You can purchase a bundle for about $1.50 each.

For the shelves, there's a few different options that are readily available at most any home improvement store -

  • 1x12s like I used are sturdy, don't need to be ripped down in width (like plywood) and come different lengths and are reasonably priced.  They accept paint or stain well and are easy to work with.  BUT the depth is only 11-1/4" - so you cannot get deep shelving with 1x12s.
  • 3/4" plywood is a great shelf option.  You can rip it down to the shelf width you'll need, which is especially useful if your closet is extra deep.  But it comes in a maximum length of 8' - so shelf runs longer than 8 feet will need a leg at the joint and support underneath. There's alot of different plywood options - the main difference is the finished surface.  Pick the finished surface that works for your project.
  • Particle Board or MDF Shelving, sometimes in prefinished white or wood grains, comes in 12, 16 and 24 inch widths, and can also be used for the shelf tops.  It's a little less fun to work since it's heavier and you'll want a dust mask when cutting, but it will do the job.  My main concern is the long term durability of using MDF or particle board. 

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Easy Pantry Shelving


Shopping List
  • 1x3 for shelf supports (can use furring strips, about $1.50 each), equal to linear feet of shelving
  • 1x12s, 15-3/4" wide shelving, or other shelf material for shelving
  • 2-1/2" Cabinet Screws for attaching 1x3s to wall (#8 Preferred) 
  • 1-1/4" Cabinet Screws for attaching shelving to 1x3s and legs to shelving (#8 Preferred) 

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw


Step 1

Mark Studs for Bottom Shelf 

Use a stud finder to mark the studs in the wall, at about the height that your bottom shelf will be installed.  

BEGINNER TIP: Studs are about 1-1/2" wide, try to mark the center of the stud.

Step 2

Attach Bottom Shelf Supports

Cut 1x3 board about 1/4" less than the overall closet width.

Attach 1x3 board to the studs in the wall with 2-1/2" cabinet screws, one screw per stud.

Use a level to make sure the 1x3 is attached level.

Step 3

Use First Row as A Pattern for Upper Rows

Since studs in walls run vertically, you can use the first 1x3 screw pattern for all subsequent 1x3 supports on the same wall.

Simply place a second 1x3 on top of the first 1x3 (as shown below) -

pantry shelving

Then start screws directly above where screws are located in the first 1x3, but do NOT screw all the way through the 1x3.  

pantry shelving

Then move the second 1x3 (with screws not fully driven) to the location of the next shelf, and finish driving the screws into the studs in the wall.  Make sure you use your level to install the 1x3 level.

diy pantry shelving

Repeat for additional shelves.

Step 4

Repeat Supports for Ends

The same steps can be used to 1x3 supports all the way around the closet interior.

TIP: If no stud is located on tight spots (like shown), screws driven at an angle into corner studs or header studs are sufficient.

Step 5

Finished Supports

The finished 1x3 supports will look like this.

Step 6

Main Shelving

Now it's time to add the shelving.

Cut the shelving about 1/4" less in overall length of the inside of the closet.

Place on top of the 1x3s, working from the bottom upward.

diy pantry shelving

Screw down with 1-1/4" cabinet screws.

diy pantry shelving

Step 7

Side Shelving

If you are wrapping the shelving around the closet, measure and cut the shelving lengths.

You will need to join the two shelving pieces together at the inside corner.

Use a 2-1/2" screw at an angle, a 2" nail at an angle, or you can use a 1-1/4" pocket hole screw and your Kreg Jig.

Step 8

Front Supports

Front supports will help strengthen the shelf and keep the boards straight.

Attach a 1x3 leg to the front, as needed.

  • Make sure the 1x3 is plumb (level vertically)
  • Cut the 1x3 to the height of the top shelf
  • Make sure the shelf is level as you attach it to the 1x3 (not sagging front to back)
  • Make sure the 1x3 leg is all the way on the ground
  • Use a 1-1/4" cabinet screw to attach the leg to the shelf
  • Legs should be placed about every 36" for 3/4" thick shelving
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