Step 1: Assemble the basic box
Need a home for all the coats, toys, books, shoes and other stuff that accumulates next to your entry door? Adjustable shelves and hooks make this open locker the perfect catchall. Construction is simple— just cut the pieces to length and nail them together. Our total cost was $300, but you can build it for $200 if you substitute plywood for the 16-in.-wide laminated pine panels we used.
First, sand the plywood back and both sides of the pine panels with 120- or 150-grit sandpaper. Check the ends of the panels to make sure they’re square, and measure the widths to make sure they’re all the same (two of ours varied slightly and had to be ripped to match). If you want to paint the plywood back and pine panel sides and shelves different colors, as we did, paint or stain all the pieces separately before putting the locker together.
Cut all the panels and shelves to the lengths in the Cutting List in Additional Information below. Glue and nail the top, bottom and center nailers to the sides, nailing from inside with 1-1/4-in. brad nails so the nails are hidden. Set the sides upright on a large worktable or flat area of the floor, then nail the top, bottom and center fixed shelves to the nailers. Keep the best edges of the sides facing up. Check to be sure all the edges are aligned to each other in the front as you assemble the locker.
Figure A: Organizer Details
Figure A, as well as a combined Materials/Cutting List are available in pdf format in Additional Information below.
Step 2: Install the two central dividers
After the shelves are nailed into place, square the locker by measuring diagonally from corner to corner, first from one side and then the other, and then pushing the corners in or out until the measurements are equal. Set the two center dividers into place, square them against the front edge, and then nail them through the top and bottom fixed shelves, using four nails at each end.
Step 3: Add the back and shelf supports
Turn the locker over so the back is facing up. Measure the location of the center dividers and shelves from the sides, then mark these locations on the back of the plywood. Set the plywood on the back of the locker with the best side facing down. Predrill and screw the plywood down at one corner, then align the rest of the framework to the plywood as you screw it down to the sides. Finally, screw the plywood to the center dividers and shelves. Use four screws for each divider and shelf and eight for each side.
Turn the locker over again and glue and nail the back shelf supports to the plywood, tight up against each shelf. Fasten the nailers to the plywood with 1-1/4-in. nails, but drive them at about a 15-degree angle so they don’t stick through the back of the plywood. You may also need to lower the air pressure on your compressor.
Step 4: Finish with the trim and adjustable shelves
Nail the front trim to the front edge of the shelves and to the sides, then glue and nail the front support under the bottom shelf, into the back of the 1×4 base.
Finally, attach the shelf standards and hooks. You can make one cubby all shelves or leave the shelves out entirely and just make space for hanging coats. Locate and mark the wall studs, then move the locker into position. For a permanent installation, remove the baseboard and recut it around the locker. Shim the base of the locker, if necessary, then screw the locker to the studs just above the center shelf to prevent it from ever tipping forward.
Required Tools for this Project
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Brad nail gun
- Circular saw
- Framing square
- Nail set
- Stud finder
- Tape measure
- Wood glue