How to Build Custom Pantry Shelving

  • 4-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Wood shelving - usually a hardwood
Metal brackets
Stud finder
Wood screws
Table saw or circular saw
Tape Measure

Pantry shelving is a great asset to keeping a kitchen well-stocked and organized. A pantry can be as large as an entire room or as small as a sliding unit that rolls into a tight space, like between a refrigerator and cabinet. However, the most common type of pantry is a small closet in the kitchen.

Building custom pantry shelving is not difficult. A person with some experience in woodworking can complete the project in a few hours or a weekend, depending on how elaborate the shelving will be.

Take Measurements

Your first step is to take measurements of the available space. Determine not only the width of the shelves, but also how deep you want them to be.

This is also the time to decide how many shelves you want. Your best bet may be to install an adjustable track so that you can reconfigure your shelves later to better accommodate certain items.

Cut Wood to Size

After you know the length of the wood for your shelving, mark your lumber the correct length. This is best done with a tape measure and a carpenter's square to ensure that lines are accurate and straight.

Take your time when cutting the wood. Line up the blade on the outside of our mark to accommodate the width of your saw blade. Many people will cut right on the line, but if you do this, your board will always come up 1/8th of an inch short. Always cut on the outside edge of the line.

Sand and Stain

Once you have cut your wood to size, take some time to sand down each piece to a smooth finish.

Apply some protective stain with a brush or a piece of cheesecloth. Apply as many coats as you want to get the desired color or darkness.


Take your shelves to the pantry. Use your level to draw lines for placement. Locate wall studs and screw in mounting brackets.

Lay the shelves on top of the brackets and screw to the brackets from the underside.

If using an adjustable shelving system, use a plumb-bob to ensure that the tracks are mounted straight.


Once you have the shelves installed, you can begin to add other elements if so desired. For example, you can add dividers to create several smaller spaces, or hang bins from beneath the shelves to store bulk goods.

Consider storing small items in labeled wire or wicker baskets, or install an over-the-door rack to maximize the space.

Remember to add lighting in the closet, even if it is just a few touch lights adhered to the walls of the shelves. Contact paper or custom cut plastic runners will protect the finish of your wood and collect crumbs and spills.