Build Closet Shelving 2 - Materials and Tools

Man installing wire shelving
  • 3-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-500

The quantity of material that you buy, as well as the amount and type of hardware, will obviously be specific to what shelving you want to create. The following is a list of supplies that you want to make sure you don't forget, as well as a few tools that you will need to complete your job.

Materials and Supplies

Shelving Material—This, of course, is the key element. Using the plans you have drawn up, measure how many linear feet of shelving you are going to need and then add 10 percent. Go ahead and buy the extra because you will most likely have short pieces you can't use, and occasionally even the best of us make mistakes. If you are installing a wooden pole for hanging clothes, make sure you buy a long enough piece of stock.

Brackets—If you are using a wire shelving system, there should be a list on the product display that tells you exactly how many brackets, clips and anchors you need. Just follow the manufacturer's recommendations and maybe buy a few extras.

If you are building your own unit, you will need to buy a way to hang the shelves. There are a number of similar styles that all work on the same basic principle: A long, vertical steel channel is secured to the wall. To allow for the maximum amount of flexibility in your space, I recommend that you buy channels that go from floor to ceiling. This will allow you to place shelves at any level in the future. Go ahead and spend the few extra dollars on the full length channels now, and it will allow you to re-arrange your space for minimal cost when your storage needs change down the road.

The channel is lined with slots that accept a shelf support. That support can be placed at any height and can be purchased in a variety of depths. Buy enough channel stock to place them 18" to 24" apart and enough supports to hold up each shelf that you want to place.

Also, if you are installing a pole for hanging clothes, you will need to have a special bracket for that. These will probably be located in a different area of the store, but are inexpensive and very strong.

Screws and Drywall Anchors—These screws will be used to hang the steel channel stock on the wall. Use a 2" drywall screw if you are able to hang the steel right over the top of a stud. If not, then use whatever screw is recommended on the package of the anchors you buy. There are many different styles of anchors. The easiest to use is a small plastic anchor that is shaped like a cone. The package will tell you how big a hole you should pre-drill. Lightly tap the anchor into the pre-drilled hole with your hammer, and then drive the screw right into it. When the screw is driven into the anchor it will swell, and thus prevent it from being pulled out of the wall.

Paint or Stain—If you choose to use natural wooden planks or plywood for you shelving, you are going to need to seal it, either with paint or stain. By leaving it unfinished, you will allow a lot of unnecessary dust to accumulate on your belongings, and natural wood resins may even stain your clothes. You will also protect the life of the wood by sealing it. This protects it from seasonal changes that naturally occur and cause wood to shrink and expand as the humidity changes. This can, and often does, cause wood shelving to warp or even split. By sealing your shelves with paint, stain or even a clear sealer, you will improve the appearance, functionality, and life of your new creation.

Tools You'll Need

large white closet organizer

Drill—This is an ideal project for a cordless drill. You will use it to drill the pilot holes for your anchors. Additionally, a cordless drill that has multiple speed settings can be used to drive the screws that hold up your various anchors and brackets. I cannot emphasize how much easier it is to drive a screw into a stud with a power tool than it is to screw it in by hand.

Hammer—You will use your hammer to tap the plastic anchors into the wall.

Screwdriver—If you don't have a cordless drill, then the screwdriver will be necessary. In fact, it's a good idea to have one around even if you do have a cordless drill. Sometimes it can be tricky getting a drill into a tight spot or a corner, and you may find that the good old fashioned screwdriver serves you well.

Level—Unless you like your belongings running downhill, you are going to need a level to make sure everything is properly aligned.

Tape Measure—You will use the tape measure a lot throughout the full scope of this project. From the initial measuring of your space all the way down to the intricate measurements of your shelves' joints, this is one tool you should never be far away from.

Saw—A circular saw will be necessary if you are doing wooden shelving. It should be equipped with a nice combination blade that will allow you to cross-cut and to rip. You will use the saw to cut your shelving stock to the correct length, and you may also be using it to cut extra supports.

Wire Cutters—If you are using wire rack shelving, you will find these to be quite handy to have around. They are useful for trimming up jagged ends and make little adjustments when shelves don't quite fit right around corners and trimwork.

Pencil—Let your inner child free and use this to draw on your walls. Mark the location of studs. Make sure you use a pencil and not ink. Pencil can be painted over, but ink tends to bleed through paint, even if you use multiple coats.

Stud Finder—If you are building something substantial that needs to hold any amount of weight, then it needs to be mounted into the studs. This tool is not absolutely essential because you can locate studs without it, but it sure does make it easier.

Paint Brush—Buy the correct applicator to correspond with whichever sealer you choose. Be it paint, stain or some other sealant, the product label should tell you exactly what you need to use to apply it in order to get the best result.