How to build a pantry cupboard

Updated February 21, 2017

One way to let friends and neighbours know your creative ability is to build a pantry cupboard that has your personality built right in. You can build units that can be put together to create a larger unit. Just remember that shelves longer than 30 inches tend to bow under the weight placed on them. This is why building smaller units and joining them to create a larger unit is more practical than building large units with long shelves. It also makes them easier to install, especially if they are going in an existing pantry closet.

Place the two pieces of 1-by-12-by-84-inch lumber on a worktable. Place them so the long edges are touching.

Measure from one end and make a mark at 4 inches. Place the framing square on the mark and draw a line across the width of the lumber. This is for the bottom shelf.

Measure from the other end of the 84-inch lumber and make a mark at 1½ inches. Place the framing square on the mark and draw a line across the width of the lumber. This is for the top shelf. Space the other five shelves evenly between the bottom and top shelf or at random measurements.

Dill pilot holes ... inch from the top and bottom lines and 1 inch from the edges. The holes will be between the lines and the ends of the lumber for the top and bottom shelves. These are for the screws that will secure the shelves to theses pieces, which are the cupboard sides.

Stand the end pieces on their 84-inch edges. Apply glue to the ends of the 1-by-12-by-30-inch lumber and place the boards on the lines from Steps 2 and 3. Secure them with the 1½-inch drywall screws. Clean up excess glue immediately with a damp cloth.

Apply glue to the edges of the pantry cupboard and place the 31½-by-84-by- ¼-inch plywood on the pantry. Secure the plywood to the pantry with the 3-penny box nails. Clean up excess glue immediately with a damp cloth.


Drill countersink holes over the pilot holes if the pantry sides are going to be seen. This will hide the screw heads. Sand all the parts before assembly to save time.


Do not leave tools unattended in the presence of children. Do not paint or stain the pantry cupboard without proper ventilation.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 pieces of 1-by-12-by-84-inch lumber
  • Measuring tape
  • Framing square
  • Pencil
  • Variable speed drill
  • 1/16-inch drill bit
  • Wood glue
  • 7 pieces of 1-by-12-by-30-inch lumber
  • 1½-inch drywall screws
  • Cloth
  • 1 piece of 31½-by-84-by-¼-inch plywood
  • Small box of 3-penny box nails
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About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.