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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a hard time finding places to put canned goods because of their weight and bulk, so I built this handy cabinet. It can hold more weight than I ever imagined and actually ended up looking decent for the price. The shelf depth seems to be perfect for almost every sized jar.



Why is this cabinet different?
- It really maximizes your space, able to hold nearly 500 quart jars in a very small area
- There's Little to no wasted material
- It can hold over 100 gallons of food by volume and probably a ton or more by weight
- The price is fairly low for it's holding capacity (under $70)
- It's quick and easy to build with very minimal measuring
- You can customize it to any size or shaped items
- It can be easily taken down and moved if you want or need to


Material List:
- 3/4 inch CDX or better plywood (3 sheets in this case, $60)
- Circular Saw
- Tape Measure
- Marking Pencil
- Air Nailer and 2 1/2 inch nails (I like finishing nails)
- Compressor
- Quality wood glue
- T-square or nice long straight edge
- Same sized boxes to hold the plywood off the ground for cutting
- Safety goggles and hearing protection are highly recommended




Basic Board Lengths:
Back = 80 x 48 inches (one piece)
Top Piece = 48 x 16 inches (one piece)
Sides = 80+3/4 x 16 inches (2 of these)
Shelves = 48 x 15+1/4 inches (this varies, 9 in this example)


The big bonus to this shelf design is how few cuts you have to make and how little overall waste there is. As far as how you put the whole cabinet together doesn't really matter as long as you follow these measurements and basic design. As you can see, when you make this pictured measurement, one piece of the plywood will measure 80+3/4 x 48 inches and the other piece will measure 15+1/4 x 48 inches. This is how you get away with making so few cuts and saving material, you are making two pieces with one cut.




So your first cut is going to be 16 inches which makes one 16x48 inch piece and one 80x48 inch piece, the back and top are made with one single cut. Measure down 16 inches on each side and use the straight edge to draw a nice clean line. That's the end of your first sheet of plywood. This picture also shows why I like to use same sized boxes or something similar to hold the plywood off the ground. If you cut it with a large overhang, it will fall and really mess up the end of the cut.




Your next sheet of plywood will be used to make two shelves and two full length sides with only 5 cuts. This time, measure down exactly 15+1/4 inches and be careful when you make the cut. The plywood should look very similar to the above picture after this first cut, but you still have 3 cuts to make with this piece. When you have your first 15+1/4 inch shelf, set it aside and start on your 80+3/4 x 48 piece that you just made. What you are basically doing is splitting the 48 inch width piece into 3 equal lengths of 16 each. Measure in 16 inches lengthwise this time. You'll want to use the outside 16 x 80+3/4 inch pieces here and save the middle piece for a single shelf and a small piece of support scrap. The middle piece will have to be trimmed down to 15+1/4 inches to make a shelf out of it. If you can make out the pencil lines, here's what your plywood should be sectioned up like.




Here's what your second sheet of plywood looks like after 3 cuts but before the middle 16x80+3/4 inch piece is trimmed for a shelf.



The only other cuts you make now are 15+1/4 inch shelves. You can get 6 shelves out of one piece of plywood which means you could make an 8 shelf cabinet with only 3 pieces of plywood if you have some scrap laying around for supports. One thing you could do that would save a bunch of time is have the hardware store cut your plywood for you. Just MAKE SURE they get the cuts right or it will throw off the entire cabinet.


I like to start by gluing and tacking the top, then sides, and then the bottom on. I use 2+1/2 inch finishing nails and sink them just under the surface. I usually put them from 1-2 inches apart all the way around the cabinet where it meets the shelf. I let it sit overnight before starting the main shelves. Like I said, there are probably a bunch of ways to put this together once you have the pieces cut out.





It really helps to stand on the inside to help stabilize and flatten the back as you nail on the pieces. You can really line the edges up nice like this.




When I have the top and sides on, I like to stand it up to put on the bottom shelf. I just cut a 2x4 down and use it as a guide for the bottom, then tack the 2x4 pieces onto the bottom after the shelf is secure.




Since I'm working form the bottom up, it makes things really straight to measure from the top down.





I use things that I know are going to be sitting on the shelves as measuring guides and just build my way up. Put them close so you get the most out of your cabinet. You need some sort of supports in between the shelves, as close to the middle as possible. This really makes the cabinet strong since I mostly used 3/4 inch plywood from front to back. They are staggered so I can nail them in from top and bottom.





When the cabinet is basically done, I like to sand down the splinters and sharp corners. CDX plywood is very rough, but oak and birch plywood hurts the wallet :(





Here it is, plain but very functional! I screwed it tight to the wall and used shims under it to make the cabinet as solid as the wall itself. I just don't want to risk all that weight moving or shifting when I get it full of glass and hard fought food. All told, it takes me 4-5 hours and less than $70 to build a cabinet like this. Next step might be doors or even some trim to make it look a little better.
 

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My son is building me something similar to this. I'm sure seeing this will help him and I thank you for sharing. I think my shelves will have a little more wasted space as I've asked my son to put a little trim at the front of the shelves to hopefully help with the fact we live close to a fault line. Not had any major quakes here recently but it's possible. Since I won't be able to pull jars straight off the shelf but have to tilt the taller quart jars to get them over the trim I think a little extra room is called for.

I see this also as a wonderful idea in the garage or shop to provide little places to store gear or for each kind of tools to have their own place. This is a wonderful design. Great job!!!!
 

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Wow, that's nice work! My compliments. :thumb:

I'm currently looking into expanding our pantry (Wife is getting tired of the canned goods I've been collecting taking up space in the living room...) and maximum load was my biggest concern with some of the stuff I was looking at purchasing. It either couldn't support the weight, or it was way too expensive.

I never really considered doing it myself (Live in an apartment and don't have access to too many power tools at present), but the cost savings alone might make borrowing my father-in-law's garage for an afternoon worth it. I'll have to add a case of beer to the cost, though. :D:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've asked my son to put a little trim at the front of the shelves to hopefully help with the fact we live close to a fault line. Not had any major quakes here recently but it's possible. Since I won't be able to pull jars straight off the shelf but have to tilt the taller quart jars to get them over the trim I think a little extra room is called for.
I've thought about putting a lip along the front, sometimes I think cats can do as much damage as an earthquake :mad: You could even put a full face cabinet front on it complete with doors and stylish knobs, I might do that sometime with all of them I built.

I imagine it wouldnt be hard to add a light shielding curtain or something to it as well to help with preservation.
Good point for canning jars, I might put a door on it that blocks light but not air flow. I don't have much trouble with moisture out there, but lids can rust pretty easy. I thought about some contractor grade landscape fabric, it is light weight and airy, but very dark.

I'm currently looking into expanding our pantry (Wife is getting tired of the canned goods I've been collecting taking up space in the living room...) and maximum load was my biggest concern with some of the stuff I was looking at purchasing. It either couldn't support the weight, or it was way too expensive.

I never really considered doing it myself (Live in an apartment and don't have access to too many power tools at present), but the cost savings alone might make borrowing my father-in-law's garage for an afternoon worth it. I'll have to add a case of beer to the cost, though. :D:
If I can do it, anyone can do it (probably better). The back piece is what I think really gives it strength unlike some shelves that are only supported on two sides, left and right. This thing is supported around 3 out of 4 sides which makes it extremely rigid and strong. If you just used that part of this cabinet, you could build it any shape or size you want. You could fill in the space between two things and even use the space above it to store bulky things (like cases of empty canning jars).
 

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This cabinet is perfect! It's like you were reading my mind (which is a pretty short read lately.) Thanks for sharing your plans. This will make our storage more organized. After the cabinet is finished I may make a modification to add casters on the bottom so that multiple cabinets can "stacked" against each other and easily relocated in the storage area.
 

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This thread deserves an award!
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
After the cabinet is finished I may make a modification to add casters on the bottom so that multiple cabinets can "stacked" against each other and easily relocated in the storage area.
Whoa, if I'm thinking about what you are meaning, that would be an unreal amount of storage space in a very small area. If you put heavy duty casters on the bottoms, you could roll them together and sort of stack them like those moving shelves that warehouses use! That is such a great idea!! I'll take pictures of what I'm talking about the next time I'm in a place that has them, that would be the ultimate storage solution for sure.

it's just about everything I was looking for! I might put some kind of door in the shleves, not sure. it's really great, so thanks!
Yeah, it's sort of just a stripped down kitchen cabinet without doors. Good solid doors would negate the use of a lip and keep the cats from getting in there too. I should go ahead and do that just to see how it would work, I really don't think the lids would rust with solid doors.

I think sometimes we take for granted that people already thought of our ideas. I've built this kind of shelf for a couple years, but never thought to share it with anyone until I built one specifically for canning jars. Thank you all for the great ideas to improve it, I really would like more critique good or bad if anyone has any ideas.
 

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Very nice! Good use of materials, too. I personally wouldn't put doors on - I'd use some sort of molding on the fronts - but the issue of rusting lids is something I hadn't thought of. Our pantry will be in the house so that isn't an issue [until we overflow the house pantry] but I think I better start planning on mitigation just in case.
 

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A door should be as simple as 3 hinges, and a piece cut the same size as the front. You'll probably want hinges that attach to the outside so the door shuts flush. Then a hook and eye to secure it, or other hasp of choosing.
 

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This is perfect! I've recently outgrown my pantry and couldn't afford the steel shelves I thought I needed. Thanks so much - what a great website!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Reading these great suggestions makes me think of all the things I wished I would have done different. Home Depot at has a slide saw they will use to cut your plywood up for you (maybe other places too) It would make every piece perfect and cut your time way down. If you could somehow glue the support pieces in, they would look a lot better because they could be straight up and down. Those middle supports are the hard thing to get right, I wish there was a better solution for them.
 
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