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Garage Storage: Backdoor Storage Center

Updated: Jun. 30, 2017

Get clutter off the floor and out of the house with these 5 quick storage solutions

FH09SEP_DOOSTO_01-2Family Handyman
Entry doors from attached garages and mud rooms seem to attract clutter. These storage projects are designed to solve that problem, with special shelves, cabinets and drawers for toys, sports gear, shoes, boots, and all the other stuff that piles up by a heavily used entryway.

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If you have an attached garage, the door to the house is probably a dumping ground for shoes, sports gear, jackets and all kinds of other stuff that you don’t have space for indoors. These five cabinets can eliminate that mess so you don’t have to walk through an obstacle course to get in the house. Each cabinet is a simple box that has been customized to solve a different storage problem. Build one or all five.

You can build, install and load these cabinets in a weekend. The only power tools you’ll need are a drill and a circular saw. But a table saw and a sliding miter saw are handy for ripping and crosscutting the plywood, and a brad nailer helps tack the cabinets and drawers together before you drive the screws.

Each cabinet requires one sheet of plywood or less. We used birch plywood, but you could use oak plywood or even MDF. For the pantry cabinet, you’ll need 1/4-in. plywood for the drawer bottoms. All the materials are available at home centers.

We designed these cabinets with economy and speed in mind. Here are three tricks we used to cut costs and assembly time:

  • All the cabinets are 11-7/8 in. deep x 24 in. wide x 72 in. tall, which simplifies and speeds construction.
  • We sized all parts to use the plywood efficiently. The sides, for example, are just under 12 in. wide (11-7/8 in.), so you’ll get four from a 4 x 8-ft. sheet.
  • We eliminated the cabinet backs, saving time and materials. Just be sure to handle the cabinets gently— they’re a bit flimsy until they’re screwed to the wall.
  • We applied the finish before assembly. After you cut the parts to size, sand everything with 120-grit sandpaper and apply a coat of wipe-on poly or other clear finish.

Box assembly tips

Photo 1: Saw guide

Get perfectly straight, accurate cuts with a circular saw using a homemade saw guide. Clamp the saw guide at your mark on the plywood.

Photo 2: Assembly tip

Clamp the frame parts together, including the screw strip. Drill pilot holes and drive screws.

These cabinets are surprisingly easy to build. The illustrations tell you most of what you need to know. Here are some tips for smooth assembly:

  • If you don’t have a table saw to rip the plywood, use a saw guide and a circular saw (Photo 1).
  • Use a shorter saw guide or a sliding miter saw to get straight, square crosscuts.
  • Drill 1/8-in. pilot holes to prevent splitting. Keep screws 1 in. from edges.
  • If you have a brad nailer, tack parts together to make drilling easier. But don’t rely on brads alone—you still need screws. If you don’t have a brad nailer, use clamps (Photo 2).
  • If your cuts were slightly off and the top, bottom and sides aren’t exactly the same width, don’t worry. Just make sure the front edges of the box are flush.
  • Attach the screw strip to the top before attaching the side pieces.
  • Attach hardware (drawer slides, shelf standards) to the sides before building the box.
  • Screw the top, bottom and any fixed shelves onto one side before attaching the other side.

Hanging the cabinets

Photo 3: Cleats support cabinets

Set the cabinets on a cleat, then screw them to the wall at the studs (use tape to mark the stud locations). Drive screws through the cabinet bottoms into the cleat.

Install a 2×2 cleat on the wall for the cabinets to sit on. You’ll need 24 in. of cleat for each cabinet. Keep the cleat at least 8 in. above the floor so you can sweep under the cabinets.

Snap a level chalk line on the wall for the cleat (measure down from the ceiling if your floor slopes!). Attach the cleat at the chalk line by driving a 3-in. drywall screw into each stud. Set the cabinets on the cleats. Place a level alongside the cabinet to make sure it’s standing plumb and square. Then drill pilot holes through the screw strips and attach the cabinets to the wall with 3-in. drywall screws (Photo 3). Screw adjoining cabinets together by driving 1-1/4-in. drywall screws through the side near the top and the bottom.

Sports gear cabinet

A compact organizer for all kinds of equipment

The cabinet dividers let you store long-handled sports gear, like hockey sticks, bats and rackets. The lip on the top shelf keeps balls from falling off. Nail the lip to the shelf before installing the shelf at any height that suits your needs.

Sports Gear Cabinet Details

When installing the dividers, cut two 7-in. spacers and place them between the cabinet sides and the dividers to keep the dividers straight as you install the cabinet face.

Measure diagonally from box corner to corner to make sure the cabinet is square before attaching the face. Set the face on the cabinet, leaving a 1/8-in. reveal along both sides and the bottom. Drill pilot holes and screw the face to the sides and the dividers.

Wet clothes cabinet

An airy hangout for damp or dirty coats and boots

The wire shelves in this cabinet allow boots to drip dry and air to circulate freely so clothes will dry. The extra-wide screw strip lets you attach coat hooks. To build the cabinet, you’ll need 6 ft. of 12-in.-deep wire shelving and coat hooks.

Wet Clothes Cabinet Details

Attach the back cleats flush with the sides. Inset the front cleats 1/4 in. Cut the wire shelves at 22-1/4 in. This gives you 1/8 in. of play on each side. Cut the shelves with bolt cutters or have the home center cut them for you. The metal in the shelves is very tough and hard to cut with a hacksaw.

Place plastic end caps over the shelf ends. Secure the shelves to the front cleats with C-clamps. Fasten two clamps per shelf. Hold the coat hooks in place in the cabinet, drill pilot holes and then drive the screws that came with the hooks to fasten them in place.

Shoe and boot cabinet

Eliminate the footwear pileup on the back steps

The lower shelves in this cabinet hold boots and shoes, while the cubbyholes at the top are for slippers and sandals. The screw strip is lower in this cabinet than it is in the rest, but it’ll still hold the cabinet in place.

Shoe and Boot Cabinet Details

Install the lower shelf first, then add the divider and screw on the shelves that fit between the divider and the cabinet sides.

Build the cubbyholes on your work surface, then stick the assembled cubbies into the cabinet. Start by screwing two dividers onto a shelf. Make two shelves this way. Then install a center divider between these two shelves. Add a shelf to the bottom, over the two dividers. Then insert the cubbies inside the cabinet and screw through the sides into the shelves and through the top into the dividers.

Open-shelf cabinet

Spacious, adjustable shelves that cut garage clutter

This open-shelf cabinet needs a fixed shelf in the middle to keep the sides from bowing, but you can make the rest of the shelves adjustable. Install as many adjustable shelves as you want—this cabinet can hold a lot of stuff!

Open-Shelf Cabinet Details

You’ll need four 6-ft. shelf standards for this cabinet. Get started by marking the shelf standard locations and the fixed middle shelf location on the two cabinet sides. Cut the shelf standards to length with a hacksaw, then screw them to the sides above and below the fixed shelf marks.

Install the adjustable shelves after you hang the cabinet on the wall.

Pantry cabinet

Bulk storage that frees up kitchen space

If you buy groceries in bulk, this is the storage solution for you. The bottom drawers in this cabinet are deep enough to hold two cases of soda. The top drawers are perfect for canned goods or bottled water. The upper shelves are adjustable for more bulk storage. The cabinet faces and door keep everything enclosed.

Pantry Cabinet Details

Inexpensive drawer slides let the drawers open and close easily. You’ll also need two 6-ft. shelf standards.

Lay the cabinet sides next to each other and mark the center for each drawer slide. Place a slide over each mark, drill pilot holes (we recommend a self-centering drill bit for this) and screw the slides into place. Cut the shelf standards with a hacksaw and screw them to the cabinet sides, above the fixed shelf.

Assemble the drawers with 1-5/8-in. screws. Place the drawer slides on the drawers, drill pilot holes and attach them with screws. Test-fit them in the cabinet. If the cabinet sides are bowed even slightly (like ours were), attach a 2-in. rail in the back to hold the sides in place so the drawers slide smoothly.

Fasten the faces to the drawers with 1-1/4-in. screws driven from inside the drawers. Build the handles with leftover plywood and attach them with 2-in. screws (driven from the inside).

Attach the door to the cabinet with 1/2-in. overlay hinges, also called half-wrap hinges. They’re available at home centers or online.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Air compressor
  • Air hose
  • Brad nail gun
  • Circular saw
  • Clamps
  • Cordless drill
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Framing square
  • Level
  • Miter saw
  • Safety glasses
  • Self-centering drill bit
  • Table saw

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • 1-1/4-in. drywall screws
  • 1-5/8-in. drywall screws
  • 1/2-in. overlay hinges
  • 1/4-in. plywood
  • 2x2s
  • 3-in. drywall screws
  • Birch plywood
  • C-clamps and end caps for wire shelving
  • Drawer slides
  • Shelf standards
  • Wire shelving