Build an Organized Back of Door Shelf

So far in Shut The Front Door DIY week, we’ve shared a lot of ways to make doors more beautiful and even a little more functional with space-saving rolling doors. But today’s tutorial will take any unassuming closet or cabinet door and make it into a workhorse with an organized back-of-door shelf that you can build to fit inside any door!

Add closet or cabinet storage by building a shelf on the back of the door -- video tutorial included! Wilkerdos on @Remodelaholic

Build a Back of Door Shelf and Organizer
by April from Wilker Do’s

Hey there, my name is April. I’m the writer of Wilker Do’s and an obsessed Do It Yourselfer. Not only do I write a step by step tutorial for every project, but I also release a video showing the build process on my YouTube channel. I’m not a professional or have any training, but fixing up my home and sharing what I learn has very quickly become my passion. Here are a few projects that I have done: Sliding Barn Door, Veggie Storage Rack, and a Child’s Growth Chart Ruler.

Back at the beginning of 2013, one of the very first projects I did was a shelving unit for the inside of my laundry room door. Not only is it a simple project but it adds a world of additional storage in spot where I really needed it.How to build a shelving unit for the back of a door - Wilkerdos on RemodelaholicToday I’m going to build it again, but this time I’m putting it on a door in my shop. Keep in mind that even though I’m adding it to my shop door, you can take the tutorial and build one for yourself wherever you need it!

You can download a quick building plan here, and here is a video showing the build process:

Now, I have solid core doors, so the inside is not hollow. Most modern homes have hollow core doors and my mounting technique will not work on them. If you have hollow core doors, then check out Ana White’s tutorial because she has a different mounting technique that works for them.

Ok let’s get started!

Note: My door is 82 1/4″ tall x 23 1/2″ wide. If you need to adapt the shelf unit to another door size, make sure to leave about 1/2″ between the door knob and the unit. 

1) I first went to my hardware store and picked up one sheet of 3/4″ plywood. I pay a few extra dollars and purchase the sanded sheet to save some time.

2) I brought it back home and starting cutting it into 7″ strips. I personally did this with a circular saw by setting up a temporary fence. However! If you don’t want to mess with cutting up the sheet, then ask the employees at the hardware store to do it for you. You will be able to get six 7″ strips and then have some left over board that is roughly 5 1/2″ wide. Set this one aside because you’ll use it later.

Note: If you use my same dimensions, you will be able to get two units from the one sheet of plywood. However, I am only building one for this tutorial.

3) Once I had my entire sheet cut, I took two boards and cut them down to 75″ with my miter saw.

4) Then I started cutting the shelves. These will be 7″ deep and 17 3/4″ long. I used my miter saw with a stop block set up to make cutting these go quick. How to build a back-of-door shelf 1 - Wilkerdos on Remodelaholic5) Next I grabbed the extra board that is 5 1/2″ wide and used that to make the front bars. I first cut lengths of 17 3/4″, then used my table saw to make them 1 1/2″ wide. How to build a back-of-door shelf 2 - Wilkerdos on Remodelaholic6) That’s it for the cutting, so next I put in all my pocket holes. I put in one pocket hole on each end of the front bars, three on each end of the shelves, and 8 on both of the side boards.How to build a back-of-door shelf 3 - Wilkerdos on Remodelaholic How to build a back-of-door shelf 4 - Wilkerdos on Remodelaholic How to build a back-of-door shelf 5 - Wilkerdos on Remodelaholic7) Next I gave every piece a coat of primer then a coat of paint. How to build a back-of-door shelf 6 - Wilkerdos on Remodelaholic How to build a back-of-door shelf 7 - Wilkerdos on RemodelaholicI didn’t paint the inside of the side boards because glue doesn’t stick to painted surfaces as well. I also didn’t paint the underside of the shelves (side with pocket holes) since they wouldn’t be seen.

8) Once everything was dry, I started putting it all together. I took the first shelf and put wood glue on one end then clamped it in place, then drilled the screws in the pocket holes. Then repeated the steps until all the shelves were attached to the one side. Note: Here is a list of where I placed my shelves: I placed my first shelf flush with the bottom, then at 13 3/4″, 27 5/8″, 40 1/2″, 49 1/4″, 58 1/8″, and 66 7/8″. How to build a back-of-door shelf 8 - Wilkerdos on RemodelaholicHow to build a back-of-door shelf 9 - Wilkerdos on RemodelaholicWhen I had one side attached, I moved it all to the floor just to make it easier. I repeated the steps to attach the other end to the second side board. Note: I used a level to make sure the shelf was sitting level, before I screwed it down and after I had the bottom shelf attached, I stood the unit up (upside down so I would have easy access to the pocket holes) to screw down the rest of the shelves.How to build a back-of-door shelf 10 - Wilkerdos on RemodelaholicHow to build a back-of-door shelf 11 - Wilkerdos on Remodelaholic9) With the shelves attached, then I went through and quickly painted the inside of the side boards.How to build a back-of-door shelf 12 - Wilkerdos on Remodelaholic10) When they were dry, I attached the front bars with the pocket holes. On the smaller shelves at the top, I spaced the bar up 1 1/2″, then on the larger shelves I spaced it 3″”How to build a back-of-door shelf 13 - Wilkerdos on RemodelaholicHow to build a back-of-door shelf 14 - Wilkerdos on Remodelaholic12) Just because my shop colors are grey and green, I went through and added a green accent. Tip: When only wanting to paint the face of a surface like this, I use a foam brush instead of a paint brush. How to build a back-of-door shelf 15 - Wilkerdos on Remodelaholic13) Ok only thing left to do is mount it! I didn’t want mine very far off the ground, so I grabbed two 2x4s that were laying around and placed them on the floor in front of the door, to act as spacers. Then I set the unit on top of them. At this point I was able to move the unit around to where I wanted it positioned on the door. I decided to come in 4″ from the left. Then I went through and put screws in all the pocket holes I had drilled earlier.How to build a back-of-door shelf 16 - Wilkerdos on RemodelaholicI filled my unit up with extra stuff I had laying around my shop!How to build a back-of-door shelf 17 - Wilkerdos on RemodelaholicSomething to note: my door has three hinges on it and since it’s a shop, they are heavy duty hinges. However, when I built this for my laundry room, the door only had two hinges and they were the normal residential ones you see around your house. Since this unit will add a considerable amount of weight to the door, I took my door off the hinges and added a third hinge and upgraded the two existing one. I also have a tutorial on this process if you need to do the same to yours.

This project took about 4 hours to complete and only cost me $37 for a sheet of plywood!

I hope that is helpful and that you have a great weekend!


April, we love your shelf and your detailed tutorial! Thank you for being our guest!

Remodelaholics — hop over to Wilkerdos to see more from April and her awesome building skills — you’ll want to be sure to check out her barn door tutorial and learn to make a fold-down worktable, just for starters. 

Coming up in #ShutTheFrontDoorDIY:

(be sure to subscribe by RSS or email to get updates for every post of Shut The Front Door DIY week)

Lots of ways to update flat panel hollow core doors @Remodelaholic

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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  1. Really liked the shelving unit for my shop door. It is great for all these small paint cans, glues and small boxes that need to be somewhere other than my work surfaces.