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Top shelf for closet

My guest room closet is 91in wide by 23in deep. There are pre-cut holes for a closet bar, and my tenant is using a wooden one there to hold her clothes... however I need to add a top shelf above the bar to provide extra storage there.


There is even a ledge around it where it seems I could just put a thick board on top of and that would do the trick.


What thickness of wood should I use?How should I secure it? How many inches off from the actual depth/width of the closet should I make the shelf so it fits on the ledge and within the closet dors?


I'm a single girl homeowne and absolutely clueless.

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Posted 2013-06-05T03:00:18+0000  by les187 les187



I'm guessing that you have bi-fold/accordian doors that open up into the closet space, thus your question about how deep can you make the shelf. If that's the case, simply open the doors and measure from the back of the wall to the door and just substract an inch+/-. Actually, how far out you can come also depends on the top of the door opening. You need to be able to access the shelf, so while measuring it, pretend you're taking things in/out and you'll get a feel for what the right depth should be.


Since you already have cleats on the wall that you can rest the shelf on you're ahead of the game. As always, there are options, such as:


1. Plywood shelf - fairly stable and strong, especially with thicker stock. Allows for deep shelves because it's wide.

2. MDF - ultra stable and also allows for deep shelves.

3. Solid wood, like poplar - Easy, as long as you can find a piece wide enough for the depth of the desired shelf.


Because you don't sound like a hardcore DYI, if you can find a piece of poplar wide enough (HD sells 1" x 12" x 8', 1" x 10", 1" x 8", etc.). Note that 12" is actually 11.5", 10" is actually 9.5", etc. I say this because you need a single cut to get the length, as opposed to length and width cuts with sheet goods like ply and MDF. But I'm sure you could get HD to cut the sheet goods for you, as well. Although, you'd need to buy a ful 4' x 8' sheet of ply because of the length you require and this would mean a lot of unused wood to take home.


If you're going to be storing heavy things on the shelf and are concerned with long term sag in the middle the fix is easy. Just add a piece of 1" x 2" poplar to the front edge of the shelf, rotated so the 2" side (actually 1.5") faces you. That adds a lot of rigidity to the shelf. You can use this trick with a shelf made from MDF or plywood, as well.


I recently made a number of very deep (30") shelves for my Mother from MDF with cherry edge strips. She painted the shelves and we used oil on the cherry. They'll last her a lifetime and look great. When you have cleats to rest the shelf on you don't need to attach it, btw.


Good luck!

Posted 2013-06-05T12:58:26+0000  by ToddB


I think I understand what you are saying to do -- but I am confused on the part about the 1" to 2" wood to avoid the sag.

How exactly and where am I supposed to put this in relation to the other board?  

Posted 2013-06-06T04:34:43+0000  by les187

If you do an image search for "closet shelf" you'll see a bunch of ideas. In the photo below they use MDF for both pieces. I hadn't thought of that, but it sounds just fine. The idea is the the 1x2 is turned so that the weight is bearing down through 2" of material, instead of the single ply of the shelf. It ads tremendous rigidity and is simple to add.


Posted 2013-06-06T11:12:32+0000  by ToddB
Five quarter material and pine five shelves at max top one is twelve inches in depyh the others eighteen
Posted 2013-06-09T08:10:44+0000  by markus
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