building a closet shoe rack


Old 05-21-04, 02:10 PM
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Question building a closet shoe rack

i've got a corner in my closet that's dead space, where i want to put/build a tall, skinny shoe rack, so the floor of my closet won't be covered with a sea of shoes anymore.

here's my plan: i'm picturing two vertical 1x12's about 6 feet tall (or maybe floor to ceiling height), with several short horizontal 1x12's nailed in between them, from the outside in, at about 8" intervals (i'll measure my shoes to be more exact - i might make some of the cubby spaces bigger for boots, etc). then i'll locate the studs in the wall & secure the rack to the wall in several places. does that sound ok?

are finishing nails ok or do i need something with a head? or would screws be better?

should i use regular lumber (which is what - pine?) or that MDF stuff or particle board or luan (whatever that is) or what? ~realizing that shoes don't weigh that much & it doesn't have to be pretty. also, what are the cost comparisons between those different materials? any time i've ever gone to the lumber section, i'm always very confused by all the material & grades of quality levels, etc.

thanks for any advice!
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Old 05-21-04, 04:28 PM
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MDF is the least expensive material around. If you paint it, it will look just fine. MDF does best when glued and any fasteners have pilot holes drilled for them to avoid splitting. MDF does not hold fasteners well, so use screws where possible. For this application anything will work to hold it in place to the studs, the load will be vertical.

MDF comes in sheets only, so you will be faced with cutting out the pieces from a sheet generally 4x8 feet.

Hope this helps.
Old 05-26-04, 01:09 PM
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Thumbs up

thanks, Chris. actually, i did find MDF in 1X12 planks, both 8' and 4', for shelving i guess. the 8' ones were only about $6.50 each, so i'll get 3 of those & whack one of them up for the horizontal shelves. i don't have a table saw, just a miter saw & a jig saw, so cutting up a 4x8 sheet would've been a pain. i'll be sure & pre-drill for screws like you said.

thanks for the help! i may post back if i run into unforeseen trouble!
Old 11-07-08, 09:16 AM
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I've found that for MDF you have to use good screws - you can get special particleboard screws and pre-drill your pilot holes. If you don't pre-drill, you can also just back your screw out every so many revolutions while you are installing it so that it pulls some of the dense sawdusty stuff out of the hole (tech. term there LOL) out of the hole. That's why MDF splits so easily if you don't pre-drill. There is no place for the displaced material (that needs to get removed for there to be space for the screw) to go so it pushes it out to the sides and splits the board or leaves a sort of a hump around the screw head. MDF is by definition denser than real wood products so special considerations in it's handling must be thought through - in terms of the screw installation and the sawdust that it creates. I love working with it and the only drawback I find is the sawdust.
Oh I forgot this tip also. I use a really good quality primer because otherwise it soaks up paint like mad and gets a rough surface where the paint has soaked into the outside layers. The cut ends are way more absorbent also so you need to either prime the cut edges twice or fill them with woodfiller or even carpenter's glue before you prime. Preparation makes all the difference in the final paint job. I've used melamine paints to get a really nice shiny finish for the cutting table and storage units I made for my sewing room.
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