Here is our step-by-step guide on how we build our pantry shelves.
Building the shelves
We used red oak veneer plywood (half-inch thick) from Homedepot to build our shelves. It costs about 90$ a sheet in Canadian dollars. We bought 2 sheets to build 2 shelves.
To begin, we measured the space between the two walls in our pantry to determine the length of our shelves. Our shelves are 15 inches deep and 2 inches thick.
We cut the plywood with a table saw into four-fifteen-inch strips and two-two-inch strips (since we were building two shelves). We set the table saw to a 45-degree angle to cut one side of each 15 inch strip, and both sides of the two-two inch strips, concealing the edge of the plywood and making it look like one solid piece.
We then cut spacers to separate both shelf pieces. Because we wanted a two-inch-thick shelf, and we were using half-inch plywood, we cut the spacers into 1 inch thick pieces, leaving space at the back of the shelves to be able to slide them on the brackets when installing.
We then glued the spacers to the shelves with Cabinet makers glue from Lee Valley and then immediately nailed them with 1 ¼ 18 ga nails with a Bostitch pneumatic nail gun.
We assembled the shelf with wood glue on all joints and then clamped it together. We added 18 ga nails to the 2-inch strip to secure it to the 15-inch pieces. We let it dry overnight.
We sanded the assembled shelf and all edges. Using a mixture of sanding dust and wood glue, we filled any cracks and nail holes.
We set the table saw slightly less than 1 inch and made four strips to use as brackets for the wall.
Staining the shelves
This part was a bit of an ordeal. Before staining the shelves, we wiped them down thoroughly. Thinking we wanted a very light natural-looking wood, we first added some Briwax Liming white-grained wax.
After waxing both shelves and bringing them inside, we realized that the shelves had too much of a pink undertone, which we did not love.
So we brought them back to the garage, removed as much of the liming wax as we could with acetone, sanded the shelves lightly, wiped them, and then added Early American Varathane stain. This stain warmed up the wood and it paired well with the leftover white-grained wax that we did not manage to remove with the acetone.
The photo above shows the stained shelf (back) compared to an untouched piece of veneer plywood (front).
In the future, we will probably skip the white-grained liming wax and just stain the shelves with Early American. However, we did test the Early American stain on a piece of plywood that hadn’t been previously waxed and the stain color came out much darker.
As a last layer of protection, we added Fiddes & Sons wax polish.
We used similar products when staining our dining table.
Installing the shelves
To install the shelves, we screwed in the brackets to studs on all 3 walls. We used a laser to ensure that all brackets were leveled. We then slid the assembled shelves over top of the brackets.
Here is the finished product. What do you think?