How to Build a Shoe Rack
A quick internet search for a "shoe rack" typically yields two types of results. The inexpensive options are most often functional, yet ugly, while the pricier options are pretty, yet impractical. It's surprisingly hard to find a shoe rack with ample storage, sturdy construction, and a look that fits your home's style. That's why we recommend going the DIY shoe rack route.
Our DIY shoe rack features a modern shape, slender shelves, and totally hidden hardware, making it a beautiful addition to any space. Whether you have just a few trusty pairs or a collection full, this step-by-step guide will outline exactly how to build a sturdy shoe rack that has room for every pair.
Before You Begin
Before heading to the hardware store, you must determine what size shoe rack will best serve you. The steps below outline a 3-tier design with a shelf depth of 10-1/2 inches, a width of 2 feet, and shelf spacing of 8 inches. These dimensions can easily be altered, which allows customization to accommodate larger shoes and larger shoe wardrobes. Just remember to adjust the materials list accordingly.
Adjusting the Depth
The average shoe rack shelf is 10 to 12 inches deep, which can accommodate most shoes. However, if you have a larger shoe size, you may benefit from increasing the depth of the shelves to fit your shoes. The design below features shelves consisting of three 3-1/2-inch boards placed side by side to achieve a full depth of 10-1/2 inches. Adding an additional 3-1/2-inch board will create 14-inch-deep shelves, allowing the shelves to fit even the largest shoes.
Adjusting the Width
The width of the shoe rack below will be around 2 feet, which will fit approximately three pairs per shelf. If desired, the width can be expanded up to 6 feet without the need for an additional frame member in the middle. The width of the shoe rack is solely based on the length of the shelf boards used.
Adjusting the Shelf Spacing
The distance between each shelf will limit the type of shoes that can be stored on them. The design below features 8 inches between each shelf, but this can be increased to make room for boots and tall shoes. To do this, cut taller vertical frame members and increase the distance between the horizontal supports to match your desired shelf spacing.
Choosing the Right Wood
The design below utilizes standard 2x2 pine boards for the frame with fir boards for the shelves. Both materials are ideal for this project, as they are inexpensive, yet sturdy. Additionally, each wood variety can be easily customized with paint or stain to suit your style.
However, to elevate this design, the 2x2s can be swapped for hardwood such as oak, and the shelf boards can be replaced with poplar, oak, or even something more rustic, such as cedar. Keep in mind, an elevated look comes at an elevated price.
Painting and Staining
This DIY shoe rack will look great whether you decide to paint, stain, or simply coat the raw wood with a protective clear coat. Using different varieties of wood for the shelves and end frames will result in different shades when stained—keep this in mind when choosing your stain colors. If you prefer a two-toned look, consider painting the frames and staining the shelves. To easily achieve this look, we recommend painting the frames and staining the shelves separately before final assembly.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Miter saw
- Measuring tape
- Speed square
- Orbital sander
- Drill bits
- Pocket hole jig
- Painting supplies (optional)
- Staining supplies (optional)
- 3 1x4 x 6' fir boards
- 2 2x2 x 8' pine boards
- 2" pocket screws
- 1-3/4" wood screws
- Wood glue
- 120- and 220-grit sanding pads
- 4 Adjustable feet
- Paint and wood primer (optional)
- Stain and pre-stain wood conditioner (optional)
- Protective clear coat (optional)
How to Build a Shoe Rack
Follow the steps below to build your own personalized shoe rack.
Cut Frame Pieces
Use a miter saw to cut a 2x2 into four pieces measuring 24 inches each. Cut a second 2x2 into 6 pieces measuring 10-1/2 inches.
Cut Shelf Boards
Cut 1x4 boards into 9 pieces measuring 24 inches each.
Sand the Boards
Sand each frame and shelf board using 120-grit sandpaper. Remove all splinters, rough spots, and sharp edges. Focus on the end grains of the shelf boards to ensure they're smooth.
Measure and Mark the Frames
Each end frame will resemble a short ladder with two posts and three rungs. The rungs will be positioned at 2-3/4 inches, 13 inches, and 23-1/4 inches in the center. Mark these positions on each post, then mark the middle on each end of the rungs.
Drill Pocket Holes
On the bottom of each rung, drill two pocket screw holes at each end using a pocket hole jig set to the proper wood thickness.
Assemble the Frames
Place the rungs between each post and line the middle up with the corresponding marks on the posts. After ensuring all pocket holes are facing downward, apply a thin layer of wood glue to each side of each joint, then use clamps to hold the piece together while you drive screws into each hole. Wipe away any excess glue.
Repeat on the second frame.
Sand the Frames
Sand the frames using 220-grit paper until smooth. While you have the 220-grit sandpaper, sand the shelf boards.
Paint or Stain the Frame (optional)
If you wish to contrast the frames and shelf boards, now is the time to finish the frames with either paint or stain. Leave the undersides of each rung unfinished for later gluing.
Drill Pilot Holes
Place the frames upside down approximately 2 feet apart. Slide the shelf boards onto each rung and adjust the frames until the edges of the shelves sit perfectly flush with the edge of each rung. Use a drill with a small drill bit to drill two pilot holes through each shelf board into the rungs.
It can be easy to drill too far when drilling pilot holes. To make it easier to tell how far you've drilled, place a piece of tape on the drill bit to mark where you want to stop drilling.
Paint or Stain the Shelves (optional)
If you wish to contrast the frames and shelf boards, now is the time to finish the shelves with either paint or stain. Leave the portion of the shelves beneath the rungs unfinished for later gluing.
Assemble the Shoe Rack
Apply a thin layer of wood glue to each side of each joint and screw the shelves to the rungs using 1-3/4-inch wood screws. Wipe away any excess glue.
Mount Adjustable Feet
Mount adjustable feet to the bottom of each post using the provided hardware. Then, flip the shoe rack right-side-up.
Finish the Shoe Rack
If you chose to wait to stain or paint the shoe rack, now is the time to do so. If painting, always prime raw wood with a wood primer to help the paint adhere. If staining, apply a pre-stain wood conditioner to prevent blotchiness, especially on softer woods like pine and fir. Finish up with a protective clear coat following the manufacturer's instructions for application and dry times on all products.
How to Maintain a DIY Shoe Rack
Keep the finish of your DIY shoe rack in top shape by occasionally wiping it clean with a damp rag, followed by a dry rag. A furniture polish may be used, but always test the product in a hidden area before using it. To cut down on scratches and dents, make sure rocks and debris are cleared from shoes before storing them on the rack.
Should shoe rack shelves be slatted?
While slatted shoe rack shelves are a popular option, solid shelves are far superior. Slatted shelves tend to allow dirt, rocks, and debris from shoes to fall inside the shoes beneath them.
What is the best material for a shoe rack?
Wood is the best material to use when building a DIY shoe rack. It's easy to work with and easily modified to fit a variety of styles.
What is the most efficient way to store shoes?
Vertical shoe storage on walls and doors takes up a minimal amount of space while offering plenty of storage. However, shelf-style shoe racks are better for shoes, as they are less prone to creasing and damaging soft materials. Additionally, larger shoes like boots and heels can be difficult to store with vertical shoe storage.