A DIY pantry cabinet expands your kitchen cabinets for supplemental storage. Essentials like canned goods, bulk food, and boxes of cereal and pasta can be stored in pantry cabinets. Even non-food items like plates and small appliances find a home since these tall, narrow cabinets can hold so much in so little floor space. Build your own DIY pantry cabinet in about two days with pre-veneered hardwood plywood and a few specialty woodworking tools.
Before You Begin
This DIY pantry cabinet is 84 inches high, 24 inches wide, and nearly 24 inches deep—a standard size for a single-wide kitchen pantry cabinet.
Hardwood veneer plywood, used for most of the cabinet, is premium, furniture-grade plywood composed of up to 15 plies (or layers). Ordinary plywood has only three to five plies.
The plywood's shelves and pantry doors have exposed edges that show the plies. Hardwood edge banding covers up the edges.
Finishing the Pantry Cabinet
The hardwood veneer can be stained and coated with clear polyurethane to match the kitchen cabinets. Make sure you use a hardwood veneer that's the same or similar to the cabinets.
For a painted pantry cabinet, it's still helpful to build with veneer plywood since the veneer smooths out the plywood. Choose one of the less expensive veneers like maple or birch if you know that you'll be painting the pantry cabinet.
Tools and Materials to Build a Pantry Cabinet
A table saw is required to cut the veneer sheet plywood. If you do not have a table saw, some lumberyards will cut plywood to size. In addition, you'll need a few cabinet-making tools and materials.
- Edge banding: Edge banding is wood veneer in narrow strips of 25- or 50-foot rolls. Banding sticks to the edges of the plywood with heat-sensitive adhesive.
- Clothes iron: An ordinary clothing iron activates the edge banding's heat-sensitive adhesive.
- Pocket hole jig: A pocket hole jig helps you drill holes into the wood at precise angles since it's difficult to do this manually. Screws are then driven into the pocket holes. Pocket hole jigs cost from $40 to $120.
- Concealed hinge jig: Concealed cabinet hinges, sometimes called European-style hinges, require a $30 to $40 tool called a concealed hinge jig for placing the holes in the cabinet.
- Shelf pin jig: Costing around $40 to $50, a shelf pin jig is an indispensable template for drilling holes for shelf pins—the metal supports that the shelves rest on.
Paint the pantry cabinet or apply stains and coatings only in a well-ventilated area.
Equipment / Tools
- Table saw
- Shelf pin jig
- Pocket hole jig
- Concealed hinge jig
- Drill extension
- Clothes iron
- Edge banding trimmer
- Cordless nailer
- Wood glue
- Bar clamps
- Wood putty
- Putty knife
- Tape measure
- 1 veneer plywood panel, 3/4-inch by 4-foot by 8-foot
- 3 veneer plywood panels, 1/2-inch by 4-foot by 8-foot
- 2 one-by-twos, solid hardwood, 8-foot
- 1 matching hardwood veneer banding, 1/2-inch
- 2 full overlay soft-close cabinet hinges
- 1 cabinet door pull
- Shelf pins, package
- Stain and protective coating or paint
- 1-inch screws
- 1-1/4-inch screws
Cut Wood / Parts List
- 2 pieces of 3/4-inch plywood at 23-1/2 inches by 84 inches each
- 3 pieces of 1/2-inch plywood at 22-1/2 inches by 23 inches
- 1 piece of 1/2-inch plywood at 24 inches by 80 inches
- 1 piece of 1/2-inch plywood at 22-1/2 inches by 84 inches
- 4 pieces of 1/2-inch plywood at 22 inches by 22-3/4 inches
The one-by-two hardwood will later be cut to size.
Part # Lumber Size Function Quantity A 3/4-inch plywood 23-1/2 inches by 84 inches Sides 2 B 1/2-inch plywood 22-1/2 inches by 23 inches Top 1 C 1/2-inch plywood 22-1/2 inches by 23 inches Bottom 1 D 1/2-inch plywood 24 inches by 80 inches Door 1 E 1/2-inch plywood 22-1/2 inches by 84 inches Back 1 F 1/2-inch plywood 22-1/2 inches by 23 inches Internal brace 1 G 1/2-inch plywood 22 inches by 23-1/4 inches Shelves 4 H One-by-two solid hardwood Cut to size Face frame 5
Create Shelf Pin Holes
With the drill and the shelf pin jig, create a line of shelf pin holes on one of the side pieces (A). Do not add holes in the last 4 inches of each end as this space will be unusable for shelves. Repeat on the other side piece (A).
Edge Band Plywood
Turn the iron on to HIGH. Disengage the steam function. Apply the 1/2-inch veneer banding to one short edge of each of the four shelves (G). Apply the veneer banding to all four edges of the door (D).
Drill Pocket Holes
- Back piece: Choose one side of the back piece (E) that you would prefer to be facing within the pantry cabinet interior. The other side will be facing the wall. Turn the back piece so its back is facing upward. With the drill and the pocket hole jig, create six pocket holes on each long side and three pocket holes on each short side.
- Top and bottom: With the top (B) and bottom (C), add four pocket holes on the 23-inch sides of each and three pocket holes along the front edge of each.
- Internal brace: Create two pocket holes on each of three cabinet-facing sides of the internal brace (F). The fourth side will be the room-facing side with the edge banding installed.
Attach Sides to Back
Run a thin bead of wood glue on one of the long sides of the back piece (E). Attach one of the side pieces (A) to the back piece, forming a 90-degree angle. The side piece should overlap and cover up the edge of the back piece, disguising it from view.
Attach the side and back pieces by driving 1-inch screws through the pocket holes. For access, be sure to use the extension bit on the drill.
When one side is complete, add the other side (A) to the back piece.
Install Pantry Top
Set the pantry cabinet upright. Add a thin bead of glue to three sides of the top piece (B). Slide the top piece between the sides and back. The top of the top piece should be flush with the top edges of the side and back pieces.
The top should be a tight fit. If not, hold it in place with two bar clamps. Screw through the pocket holes with 1-inch screws.
Install Pantry Bottom
Much like installing the pantry top, install the pantry bottom (C) by sliding it beween the sides and back. The important difference is that the pantry bottom should be installed 4 inches up from the bottom edge of the pantry cabinet.
Install Internal Brace
Measure 40 inches up from the bottom. Insert the internal brace between the sides and the back. As the brace also acts as a usable shelf, it should be level. Secure by driving 1-inch screws through the brace's pocket holes.
Drill Holes in Door for Hinges
On one of the long sides of the door (D), use the hinge jig to drill two holes. One hole should be 8 inches from one end and the other hole should be 8 inches from the other end.
Measure Face Frame
Place the pantry cabinet on its back. Lay the one-by-twos across the front edges of the cabinet to determine the cut lengths, then mark accordingly.
- One strip on the left side (A) extends from the top edge of the cabinet to the floor.
- One strip on the right side (A) extends from the top edge of the cabinet to the floor.
- One strip across the front edge of the top piece (B) between the left and right side trim.
- One strip across the front edge of the internal brace (F) between the left and right side trim.
- One strip across the front edge of the bottom piece (C) between the left and right side trim.
Construct Face Frame
Lay the five face frame pieces upside-down on a clean work surface. Add pocket holes to the long trim pieces where they meet the short trim pieces. First add wood glue, then screw the face frame together with 1-1/4-inch screws.
Add Face Frame
Run a thin bead of wood glue on the edges of the cabinet that will receive the trim. Lay the face frame assembly on top. Nail into place with the power nailer. Using 1-inch screws, screw the face frame into place, using the three pocket holes in the top (B) and bottom (C) panels.
Finish Cabinet With Coatings or Paint
Stain and coat or paint the partially assembled pantry cabinet and the door. Be sure to finish all visible surfaces: top, bottom, and front edge of shelves; front, sides, and front edges of the pantry cabinet; and all surfaces of the cabinet door.
Attach Door to Pantry
Lay the pantry cabinet on its side. First, add the hinges to the door by seating the rounded part of the hinge in the holes that you created earlier. Screw the hinges into place in the door. Open the hinges. Elevate the door so that the other end of the hinge rests on the inner section of the cabinet's face frame. Screw the hinges into place on the face frame.
Add Cabinet Pull
Close the door. Gently set the pantry cabinet upright. With the drill, drill holes on the door for the cabinet pull. Screw the cabinet pull into place.