How to Add Shelves in Kitchen Cabinets

A kitchen sink
  • 4-5 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-300
What You'll Need
Measuring tape
Medium density fiberboard
Table saw
Drill bits
Paint brush

If you are like other homeowners, your kitchen cabinet shelves are not always in the right position, not always the right size, and not always spaced as you would like them to be. At times you may want to add new shelves. Whatever changes you need to make, including building more shelves, if you wish to make these changes yourself, you will need reliable installation instructions such as those below.

Step 1 - Prepare Your Cabinet

Working in an enclosed cabinet can be confining. The frustration you feel can often lead to mistakes that might otherwise be avoided. Even though it might initially take more of your time, you'll find it easier to work in your cabinet if you first remove the doors, shelving, and any of the cabinet's contents.

Step 2 - Measure Cabinet Space

In order to purchase and accurately cut your shelving material, you'll need to know the dimensions of the space in which you place your shelf, its height, width, and depth. These measurements should not only include dimensions of your cabinet's interior, but you'll need to know the thickness of the existing shelves if you are to accurately match them with your new shelf.

Step 3 - Cut and Plan Your Shelf

Based on dimensions of the cabinet you've measured, cut your shelf from a piece of 1-inch lumber, plywood, or fiberboard. Use a table saw to make this cut, leaving enough extra on the outside edges of the board to make up for material that will be lost from planing the edges. If you don't have access to a jointer to plane the shelf edges, use a planing blade on your bench saw.

Step 4 - Mark For Shelf Bracket Position

A kitchen with cabinets.

On the inside surface of your cabinet measure and mark the place you'll want to attach your shelf brackets, two at each end of your cabinet and one at the center of the rear surface. Make sure your shelf guidelines are plumb and are equally spaced.

Step 5 - Attach Your Brackets

Use a drill to make screw guide holes to use in attaching your brackets. Measure the places for these holes carefully. Since screw holes in each bracket are the same distance apart, you'll need to carefully make holes that will be the same level for all brackets. Attach your brackets with screws driven into the guide holes. Fit your shelf on the installed brackets to test that the shelf sits flat and secure.

Step 6 - Apply Finish to Your Self

Apply primer to your new shelf, and allow it to dry. Brush on varnish, stain, or paint to match the finish of the cabinet and existing shelves and allow it to dry. If necessary, use steel wool to smooth the finish, then apply a final coat of paint or varnish.

Step 7 - Replace Shelves and Doors

When your new shelf finish is dry, replace cabinet doors and the shelves you removed.