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How to Install New Shelves Inside Cabinets

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Looking for added shelf space but out of room in your existing cabinets? You can create space for your items by installing extra shelving yourself.

Adding shelf and storage space is especially straightforward when installing shelves inside cabinets.

In this article, we’ll guide you through how to prepare, build, and install extra shelving in your existing cabinetry.

man installing wooden shelves

Supplies for Building Your Own Shelves

Before starting on your project, make sure you have all of the proper supplies and equipment. While items and sizes will vary depending on your space, here are the main supplies you will need for building your own shelves.

  • Boards: Consider the number of boards as well as the width and length you will need for your desire shelves.
  • Brackets: Purchase the right bracket type and length for your project.
  • Paint: If you want to blend your brackets into your walls or cabinetry, choose a color to paint your brackets.
  • Screws, Nuts, and Bolts: Look for large gauge screws made of stainless steel for attaching the brackets to your cabinet and shelves.

Your project will go more smoothly with the right tools on hand. You may need the following to install your shelves properly:

  • Edge banding trimmer
  • Table saw
  • Miter saw
  • Screwdriver or cordless drill

Steps to Install New Shelves in Cabinets

Step 1: Prepare the Cabinet Space

It can be quite confining to work inside of a cabinet, let alone one cluttered with items. This can lead to frustration, which can often become a reason for mistakes.

Although it might seem like wasted effort, you will save time and energy by removing the contents of the cabinet as well as taking out the existing and doors.

Male carpenter install shelf in kitchen cabinet

Step 2: Measure the Cabinet Space

It is important to know the exact dimension of your cabinet space where you are going to place your shelves. Be sure to accurately measure the height, width, and depth of the cabinet so that there are no mistakes.

You must remember that your measurements should include the dimensions of the interior of the cabinet.

You also need to account for the thickness of the shelves that are already inside the cabinet so as to match the existing shelves with the new ones.

Step 3: Cut and Plan Your Shelves

With your accurate dimensions in hand, you can now size your new shelves. You will need to cut your shelves from the board(s) that you have bought. You can make use of a table saw in order to make these cuts.

Make sure that you leave a little extra material on the outside edges to make up for the losses that occur while you are sanding or finishing your edges.

If there is no jointer that will help you in finishing the edges, you can make use of a planer blade on your bench saw.

Step 4: Mark the Position of Shelf Bracket

Measure and mark the point on the inside of the cabinet where you want to put your shelf brackets. While making these markings, make sure that your shelf guidelines are equally spaced and are plumb.

You need to put one bracket at the center of the rear surface of your shelf and two at each of the ends of cabinet.

Man installing wooden shelves on brackets installation of shelves

Step 5: Attach the Brackets

After you have made the measurements, use a drill to make screw guide holes for attaching your brackets. It is important to measure the places where you are going to put the holes correctly.

Since all the screw holes are equidistant in each of the bracket, it is important that you make the holes at the same level in all the brackets. Then drive your screws into your guide holes and attach your brackets.

Test your shelves by placing them on your installed brackets to ensure the proper, level fit.

Step 6: Apply Finishing Touches

Consider finishing your new shelves with a fresh coat of paint or stain. If you are matching the finish to the existing cabinet, test your new paint or stain on a sample before applying to your entire shelf.

When dry, place the new shelves on the brackets. With the shelves in places, you can add in the original shelves, reload your items, and replace the cabinet doors.