How To Build A Closet Organizer For Custom Storage

Knowing how to build a closet organizer for custom storage will not only bring order to the clutter in your closet, but can save you money you might otherwise spend on a pre-fabricated organization unit from a home improvement box store. Organizing your home doesn’t have to be an expensive affair, and with a little how-to information and some sensible closet ideas, you’ll no longer dread opening your closet doors.

Dimensions and Design

Building a closet organizer yourself is going to save you money and give you flexibility in dimension and design. To begin, you’ll have to determine the dimensions of your closet. If you wish to organize a walk-in, more than likely you’ll have plenty of horizontal space to work with, allowing for a wider design. On the other hand, if the closet is taller than it is wide, the organizer will have to be vertically designed. Decide how many compartments you want to include in relation to the available space. Depending on the layout of the closet, you may be able to build more than one structure, each with several compartments.


That closets should be made with cedar is practically axiomatic, but using all cedar materials is going to cost a bundle. Three-quarter-inch plywood is recommended for the shelves and vertical supports. It’s true, though, the presence of cedar oil deters moths, so consider cedar lining for the compartments, cedar molding for the façade, or other cedar oil products such as hangers. Plywood comes in 4-by-8 foot sheets. Plan on making the depth of the organizer 11 to 11.5 inches, that way you’ll get 4 8-foot pieces for every sheet. You’ll also need some type of molding for the decorative façade, either cedar or oak, some 2-inch drywall screws, and size 4d (1.5 inch) finish nails. As mentioned, cedar lining for the shelves is an added touch but not a necessity.


Whomever you purchase the plywood from can cut it into strips for you, but it will cost you extra, and unless you know the exact dimensions of all the pieces beforehand, you'll need a skill saw to work with. Additionally, you’ll need a screwdriver (preferably electric), a hammer, wood glue, and, if you plan on using a dado joint, access to a table saw or a router with a ¾-inch bit.

Assembly Options

The first step is to determine the outside dimensions of your closet organizer. The top and bottom piece should overlap the vertical side pieces, and remember to cut the inner vertical supports ½ inch longer than the sides if you use a dado joint. Don’t pre-cut the horizontal shelves as they may not fit due to miscalculations or irregularities in the wood. Your options for assembly are to use a dado joint–a slot equal to the thickness of the plywood cut into the vertical supports–or an adjustable shelf system. If you go with a dado, you’ll need a table saw or a router with a ¾-inch bit. Using a router will require you to fasten a straight edge to the board for each cut. An adjustable shelf allows you to change the size of the compartments whenever you need. Drill two columns of same-sized holes spaced equally apart into which you can ubsert pegs that support the shelves.

Use the drywall screws with wood glue for the outside structure and vertical supports, and the finish nails for the molding. If you wish, paint the molding before you affix it, and glue in any lining after construction.