A step-by-step tutorial on how to build a DIY closet organizer.
Something that really bugs me is when a bedroom closet only has one rod to hang stuff and maybe a shelf. Why does this bug me? Well because this closet has a lot of wasted space and no way to organize effectively. And that is why I recommend building a DIY closet organizer to eliminate the wasted space and finally organize that closet.
Welcome to this months DIY challenge! Every month for the whole year, I will be participating in a new DIY home challenge and this month’s is “Build to Organize Challenge”. After sharing my tutorial there is a link-up to 30+ other DIY home bloggers projects on the same challenge, so be sure to check those out!
Before jumping into the tutorial you need to complete two things first.
CREATE YOUR SKETCH
I wish I could say that my sketch will work for your closet but every closet is not the same and you will need to create your own sketch. Don’t worry this does not need to be
The first step is the design you want, I would recommend having the organizer in the middle, just like this closet makeover. Then have two hanging rods (for shirts) and one hanging rod (for dresses or hanging pants) on either side of the organizer.
TIP: Don’t forget about bracing pieces You will need these to hold the rods and top shelf. Also if you plan on a floating organizer (like this project) you will need to brace at the top of the organizer and bottom to secure it to the wall.
TIP #2: More information about the bracing for the floating organizer. For my organizer I knew that there would be no heavy items placed on the organizer, only clothes. If you plan on placing heavy items on the organizer, you will need to add more bracing inside the organizer below the shelves. Or it might be better to have the organizer sit on the floor. Please be mindful of the weight so that it doesn’t pull away from the wall or collapse.
The size of the organizer depends on the size of the closet and the length you want the rods. Once you decide on these start drawing your sketch. Here’s what mine looked like.
CREATE YOUR CUTTING LIST AND DIAGRAM
Once you have your sketch, its time to create your cut list plus diagram. This step will help you know the exact amount of wood that is needed and how to cut each piece. Here is an example of my cut list and cutting diagram.
Now let’s move to the tutorial plus supplies.
HOW TO BUILD A DIY CLOSET ORGANIZER
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STEP 1: CUTTING THE WOOD
Because you have a cutting diagram this part will be easy! Start by cutting your plywood pieces to the measurements on your diagram. I actually do not own a table saw, I use a circular saw with the Kreg Rip-cut to cut my sheets of plywood. I explain more about the Kreg Rip-cut in this post, see for yourself on how to use it.
TIP: Wait on cutting the 1″x2″ trim pieces until the closet organizer is in place. This way you can measure the exact cuts you need.
STEP 2: CREATING THE KREG JIG POCKETS
These pockets are used to secure the plywood pieces together and only the organizer pieces will have them.
You will want to place pockets on the top of the side pieces that sit against the top shelf (goes across the length of the closet). Then all the shelf inside the organizer to secure these pieces to the side pieces.
STEP 3: SANDING THE PLYWOOD
Now its time to sand all the plywood pieces with #220 grit sandpaper,
Once everything is sanded wipe the wood with a dry cloth to remove the dust.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE THE ORGANIZER
SIDE NOTE: I did not assemble the last two shelves until after painting because it would have been difficult to paint a small space with a paint sprayer.
To help show how I assembled the organizer, I have created a video demonstrating how to attach each shelf plus this video shares the whole process!
TIPS when attaching shelves:
- Measure one shelf then assemble before measuring for the next.
- Measure front and back on each side piece for each shelf (measuring in four spots).
- Use a square!
- Use a Kreg right angle clamp!
- Take your time to make sure its all square.
- When attaching the bottom shelf, remember that you are added trim to the front to give the organizer a finished look. So place the bottom shelf 1-1/2″ from the edge of the side pieces. There will be a 3/4″ gap once the shelf is added.
To attach a shelf use the 1-1/4″ screws and adjust the torque on your drill (the numbered dial) so you do not over drill.
STEP 5: PAINTING
Before painting prep the organizer by caulking (sealant) the seams where each shelf meets the sides. This will give you a clean finished product. Once the sealant has dried, you are ready to paint.
I applied two coats of primer and two coats of white paint. I did use my Critter paint sprayer!
SIDE NOTE: When the paint had dried, I assembled the last two shelves on my organizer.
STEP 6: INSTALLING THE ORGANIZER INTO THE CLOSET
Once the paint has dried it’s time to install the closet organizer. But before the actual organizer can go into the closet, the bracing for the long top shelf and bracing for the rods need to be secured.
This is done by measuring the wall for placement then finding where the wall studs are to secure the bracing to a studs.
SIDE NOTE: I really like using the magnetic stud finder!
Before nailing a brace into place, make sure it is level then nail into place with 2″ nails.
After all the bracing is installed its time to place the top shelf, the one that spans the length of the closet. Then measure the placement of the middle organizer plus find the studs in the wall so it can be secured into place.
SIDE NOTE: I did have to move the organize a couple of inches to one side so I could secure it to two studs.
I designed this organizer to be floating so that shoes can be stored under. I found four items that could be placed under the organizer to give it the space we needed underneath. You can install it without but you will need three people to make that easier.
TIP: This next part is a two person job!
SIDE NOTE: Sorry I forgot to video this part.
Place the organizer in the desired location (where it will be secured to two studs). Then pre-drill the top bracing with a 1/8″ drill bit for where the organizer will be secured to a stud. After take the 2″ screws and secure the top to the wall.
TIP: Make sure the organizer is level up and down and with the top shelf.
Now its time to add the 1″x2″ trim to the front of the organizer and shelf. Cut one trim piece the length of the top shelf. Place the trim against the shelf, the top will be flush, then starting on one end nail the trim piece into place with 1-1/4″ finishing nails. Move about 8″ and place another nail, adjust the trim piece if needed to make it flush with the shelf. Continue this process for the length fo the board.
Next measure the sides of the of the organizer (each one could be different) then cut the trim at those measurements. Check the fit and adjust if needed then nail the trim into place just like the first trim piece.
STEP 7: FINISHING TOUCHES
Once all the trim is installed, fill in all the nail holes with spalkling paste (will need to be lightly sanded once dry) and seal all the seams with caulk. Then let those dry.
After touch up the areas with paint.
After it time to measure the bracing to attach the rod holders to the wood. This is done by measuring 11″ from the back wall and 1-3/4″ down on the rod bracing (this will put the holder in the middle of the brace). Put a mark at this spot, this is where the top of the rod holder will sit. Place the rod hanger and trace the screw holes then predrill a 1/8″ holes. Then attach the holder using the screws provided.
For the other rod holder, mark the placement and trace the screw holes just like the last holder. And attach just like the last time. Complete this for all rod holders.
Once all the rod holders are attached, place the rods. You can adjust the length of the dowel if needed.
And your closet is now completed! Here’s my daughters closet after adding clothes.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO BUILD A DIY CLOSET ORGANIZER
The total cost of this closet build was less than $140, this included all materials, which was two full sheets of plywood.
So for less than $140 you can build your own closet organizer and finally organize your closet. I hope this helps you!
MORE BUILD TO ORGANIZE YOUR HOME projects
Don’t forget to check out the other 30+ other DIY bloggers projects as part of this month’s challenge!