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It's just a box with closet doors
Don't let the size of this project
fool you. It may be big, but you
can build it in a weekend. The
cabinet is just a basic box:
nothing more than simple
framing covered with plywood.
Installing the doors is exactly
like installing sliding closet
doors. You only need inexpensive
hollow-core doors and
sliding door hardware.
At 7 ft. tall, 2 ft. deep and 16 ft. long, this cabinet not
only holds a ton of stuff, but also handles bulky
items that other cabinets can't: camping gear, bench-top
tools, outdoor toys. You can even hang off-season clothes
inside on hooks. The big sliding doors keep it all neatly hidden
and provide instant, easy access.
Using birch doors and trim and AC
plywood on the partitions, the project
cost us just over $1,000. Simply substituting
oak or lauan doors and replacing the
AC plywood with oriented strand
board (OSB), you could trim the cost by a quarter.
How fast is this project? If you stick
to it, you could complete most of it in
a day. Plan a second day to complete
the details and get started on the finishing.
In addition to standard hand
tools like a tape measure, level, framing
square and Speed Square, you'll
need a circular saw and drill. A power
miter saw and pneumatic trim nailer
would simplify the trim work but
We designed this cabinet to accommodate
six doors and fit against the
right wall, but you can easily modify it
to suit your needs. You can make the
cabinet wider or narrower by changing
the number or size of the doors.
Reverse the plan if you want to mount
it against the left wall instead. You
could also build the cabinet tight to the
ceiling, but you'll have to reverse the
order of construction. To do that, start
by fastening the ceiling frame to the
studs and to the ceiling. Then mount
the uprights to the walls. And finally
build the base, including the plywood
floor, and bolt it to the uprights and the
If you have block or concrete walls
in your garage, attach the base,
uprights and top frame with lag shield
anchors and lag screws or expanding
concrete anchors. If you build the cabinet
against open studs, you'll have to
install horizontal blocking between the
studs in areas where the uprights don't
align with an existing stud.
Figure A: Cabinet Details
Figure A: Cabinet Details
Figure A, the complete Cutting List and Materials List are available in pdf format in Additional Information below.
Build the base
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Photo 1: Fasten base to wall
Support the base frame with temporary legs and screw it to wall studs. Use a string
line and shims to make sure the front edge is perfectly straight.
The most critical part of the project is
getting the base square, level and
straight before you screw it to the wall.
If your wall is bowed (like ours), you'll
have to shim behind the frame before
bolting it to the wall.
Start by snapping a level chalk line on the wall to indicate the top of the
lower frame. We positioned our cabinet
about 24 in. above the floor. Next,
use a stud finder to locate and mark
the studs. Cut temporary 2x4 legs that
rest on the floor and extend to 3-1/2 in.
below the chalk line, and then screw
them to the wall. Make another set of
legs about 1/4 in. shorter than the first
set to support the front edge and add a
cleat to each one (Photo 1). Assemble
the base (Figure A) with nails or screws
and rest it on the legs. Attach the front
legs through the cleat with screws and
attach the base to the wall with a temporary
screw at each end.
Using a level, adjust the height of the
front legs by shimming under them
until the frame is level from front to
back on both ends. Next, nail small
blocks of 1/2-in. plywood to both ends
of the base and stretch a string or chalk
line between them. Use a third block of
1/2-in. plywood to check the distance
between the front 2x4 and the string
(Photo 1). Add shims between the wall
and the frame as needed to create a
consistent 1/2-in. space between the
string and the front 2x4. If your wall is
straight, you won't have to add any
shims. Lag-screw the frame to the
studs (Photo 1). Finish the base by nailing
on the plywood.
Bolt on the uprights
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Photo 2: Attach uprights
Fasten the uprights to the wall with screw-in drywall anchors. Make sure each
upright is plumb and squared with the base.
Cut the 2x2s to length and screw them
together to form the frames for the
uprights. To provide maximum rigidity,
spread a bead of construction adhesive
on the face of the 2x2s before nailing
plywood to one side of each frame.
To ensure the frames are square, be
careful to cut the plywood square and
line it up with the frame before nailing.
Use the measurements in Figure A
to locate the partitions, and make
square layout lines on the plywood
base with a framing square. Use a 4-ft.
level to extend the layout lines up the
Where uprights don't align with
wall studs, use screw-in drywall
anchors to secure them (Photo 2). These
anchors aren't supporting the cabinet.
They simply hold the uprights in position
until the top is installed.
Since the uprights hold up the base,
they have to be securely bolted to the
base. With a spade bit, drill a 3/8-in.
hole through the bottom 2x2, base plywood
and 2x4 frame. Connect the outside
uprights to the base with 6-in.
hex-head machine screws, washers
and nuts, and the center uprights to
the base with 4-in. versions. You'll
repeat this process at the top after
installing the top frame (Photo 3).
Install the top
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Photo 3: Bolt the top to the uprights
Set the top on the uprights and bolt it
to them. Also bolt the uprights to the
base. Then nail plywood panels to the
uprights to enclose the framing.
The top frame has the same dimensions
and layout as the base frame but
is made from 2x2s instead of 2x4s. As
you cover the frame with plywood, use
the plywood edges as a guide to make
it straight and square.
Locate and mark the studs along the
line where the top will be. Then lift the
top onto the uprights (plywood side
down), align the ends and lag-screw
the frame to the wall. If your situation
is like ours, with just a narrow 6-in.
space (Photo 3) between the cabinet top
and the ceiling, this part is no fun. But
it's crucial that the top be securely fastened
to studs. Add shims between the
wall and the frame if there are gaps.
Then bolt the top to the uprights and
nail the second side of the plywood to
all the uprights (Photo 3). We used birch
plywood on the exposed left side to
match the doors. This outside plywood
piece is 6 in. longer than the
interior plywood to cover the top and
Install the trim and hang the doors
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Photo 4: Nail on trim
Dress up the front edges of the base and uprights by nailing on trim boards. The top
trim overhangs the top to hide the door track.
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Photo 5: Fasten the tracks
Screw the door tracks to the top,
using spacers to position them. Make
sure the sections of track align perfectly
where they meet so the doors slide
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Photo 6: Attach rollers to doors
Screw two rollers to the back of each door. Later, you can
loosen the screws to raise or lower the door for a perfect fit.
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Photo 7: Hang the doors
Tilt the doors to hook the
rollers onto the track.
Hang three doors on the inner
track and three on the outer.
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Install door guides at each
upright and halfway between
Start by cutting trim boards to cover
the uprights and nail them on with
2-in. finish nails (Photo 4). Trim a 3-1/2-
in.-wide board to fit tight against the
wall. Complete the trim by cutting and
installing the top and bottom (horizontal)
boards to fit between the ends.
Mount the door track 1 in. from the
back side of the top trim (Photo 5). We
used two 8-ft. tracks and cut the ends
so there would only be one joint in the
center of the track. Mount the hangers.
Then tilt the doors and hook the
wheels onto the track to install them
(Photo 7). If you're having trouble
installing the front doors, loosen the
adjusting screws on the wheels and
extend them to maximum height. After
installing the doors, crawl inside the
cabinet and readjust the wheels so the
doors hang level and are even with
each other. Finish the door installation
by installing the door guides. Locate
them where the doors overlap, centered
2-5/8 in. back from the front edge
of the trim.
With shelves in, all that's left to do is
brush on two coats of polyurethane,
load up your new storage space, and
say goodbye to that mess in your
Shelves Made From Doors
Hollow-core doors are stiff and
inexpensive, so they make great
shelves for projects like this one. We
used inexpensive,18-in.-wide bifold closet doors. You can't cut a hollow-
core door to a different width,
but you can cut it to any length you
like and plug the hollow end. We supported
our shelves with adjustable
metal shelf standards and brackets.
Plug the cut end
of a hollow-core
door by gluing in
a block of wood.
Chisel out the
door to make
space for the