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Face Frame Built-In Shelving

This is the right way to build the right shelving in your pantry, storage closets, or even for exposed shelves throughout the house.  The plywood carcass makes it strong and long lasting.  The face frame gives it a professional look and added strength.  Build in different depths to solve just about any storage need.  

We choose this type of shelving for a pantry project we are working on because we knew it was the best solution for the space.  All other solutions would be temporary fixes that would eventually need to be replaced.

Since this pantry is visible from the kitchen, we wanted it to have that custom cabinetry feel, but still super functional and good quality.

Video of Building this Pantry

Watch this pantry build come together in this video:


The configuration options are endless.  And you can also stack like cabinetry to get different depths.  Here's my configuraiton:

I simply measured the space and built it about an inch smaller to allow for fitting it into the closet.  I used the 11.25" depth because the space is so narrow, but different depths are fine.  I did shelves spaced about 13" appart - this is a good distance to fit most pantry items.  I went 72" tall so the top shelf would be reasonable to reach.

The Plan

Here's the plan - to add bay suports to the back and a face frame to the front.

Carcass Assembly

Once you have your carcass pieces from the configurator, you can assemble.  I recommend 3/4" pocket holes and 1-1/4" pocket hole screws.  Offset pocket holes just slightly to the right, this will ensure your pocket hole screws won't hit each other at intersections.

I do two pocket holes for the 11.25" width, three for the 15.25", and four for the wider widths.  I prefer the coarse threaded screws.

I recommend starting by building single bookshelves, like shown above.

Then the single bookshelves can be merged with center shelves.

If you cannot access the bottom shelf, simply attach cleats under it with 1-1/4" pocket hole screws, and attach the bottom shelf to the cleats with 1-1/4" brad nails. 

Bay Supports and Attaching to the Wall

The bay supports are used to give the shelves strength, rigidness, and wall attachment.

The back bay supports can be added with angled screws or nails from the outside ends. 

Attach the entire project to the wall using 3" self tapping wood screws to studs in the wall through the back bay supports.

Face Frame

A face frame is not essential, but will give your shelves a finished look.  Face frames also increase the strength and longevity of your shelves.

For the top, I use a 1x2.

The bottom can vary in height, depending on how high up the bottom shelf is set at. I used a 1x4 in my pantry project.

First, cut the top and bottom face frame to fit or to fit the room if in an alclove installation.  The face frame can be used to hide gaps between the shelving and walls/ceiling. Nail on with 1-1/4" brad nails and glue.

For the vertical face frame pieces (stiles) simply measure and cut to fit and nail on with 1-1/4" brad nails and glue. 

See it Built - Build Video

Watch me build this pantry in this build video