Build a Chimney Cabinet

tall, skinny, white chimney cabinet against a marble wall
  • 3-20 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-200
What You'll Need
Pocket Jig
Wood glue
What You'll Need
Pocket Jig
Wood glue

Named for the classic heating elements with which they share a shape, chimney cabinets are tall, narrow furniture units, usually with shelving, and often with doors. They make a great storage solution for areas with limited square footage, and can help you declutter by making more efficient use of vertical space.

The basic process of assembly is like any other cabinet construction project, except instead of mounting to existing home infrastructure, your chimney rack will be free standing, like other Hoosier cabinets—convenient all-in-one units that became popular in American kitchens in the early 1900s.

Step 1 - Design and Plan

As with any project, the initial step is in the planning. Consider the size of the space where you will place the chimney cabinet. Also think about what you want to use it for. Calculate the ideal height, which will establish your vertical side boards. Then select a width, which will match the length of the horizontal boards that make up the shelves.

sleek, modern kitchen with white cabinets and tall, narrow shelving unit

Your chimney cabinets can have a door on the lower half, upper half, or full length. Alternatively you can keep the unit as open shelving with no door at all. Along with the size, you’ll want to figure out what type of wood you prefer. You can use basic plywood, MDF, pine, oak, cherry, mahogany, or any other selection.

Step 2 - Cut Boards

cutting board with circular saw

Once you’ve acquired your boards, cut the side boards to length, making sure they are exactly the same. Then cut your shelves to size. If you need a precise finished width for your cabinet, remember to include the width of your vertical boards when calculating the required length for your shelves or your cabinet will be too wide. Your top and bottom boards will be longer to accommodate the width of the sides.

stack of boards

Step 3 - Pocket Holes

There are several ways you can attach your sides and shelves together. For the lightest applications, a brad nail through the sides into the shelves and from top and bottom into the sides will hold it together.

For a more durable and long lasting cabinet, you’ll want to use a pocket hole jig. Create pocket holes in the shelves at the proper depth for the wood board thickness you are using.

handsaw trimming end of board

Step 4 - Assemble

Lay a long side board on your work surface. Attach the top and bottom of the cabinet, using wood glue as you go to reinforce the hold. Next, measure and mark where you want each shelf. Use wood glue and attach the shelves with the pocket holes facing the bottom of the cabinet. Feed screws through the pocket holes into the sides. Then complete the second side.

applying wood glue to a small board

For the base, attach a toe kick across the bottom from one side to the other to add support and a finished look. Place the toe kick a few inches from the front so it is visible but not flush with the front.

skinny wooden cabinet in room with unmade bed

Step 5 - Backboard

For the back of the chimney cabinet, you can leave it open, attach plywood or other wood panel, or use a thin backer board material, depending on the look you want.

Step 6 - Finishing Touches

Now that your cabinet is put together, you can attach cabinet doors if you want. You may also want to embellish the frame with moulding. Use wood filler to obscure nail holes and seams. Sand your finished chimney cabinet and paint or stain.


Although the chimney cabinet is meant to stand tall, the design can contribute to instability so you may want to mount it to the wall for safety.