How to build a closet

September 10, 2020

Build a closet yourself, following these illustrated step-by-step techniques, including wall framing, paneling, and finishing.

Need more closet space? If you have adequate floor space and some basic carpentry skills, you can build a closet in a bedroom, guest room, den, or hallway that will look like it has been there all along. How to build a closetBi-fold doors conceal this utility room closet. Lavalon

The first step is to build a closet frame and fasten it to the surrounding walls. Next, you will trim the door opening and install the door(s) of your choice. Finally, you will hang the closet rods or customize the interior with rods, shelving, drawers, and any other accessories you desire. For information on outfitting a closet with an organizer, please see How to Install a Closet Organization System.

Planning to Build Closet Walls

Plan to build a closet frame from 2 by 4s, allowing an inside depth of at least 27 inches. You can construct the frame in one of two ways: Build the walls flat on the floor and then raise them up into position, or build them in place.

It is much easier to nail the framing members together on the floor if the room has a large, clear area to accommodate this. But, using this method, you will have to make a slight modification in the height of the closet walls because it is impossible to tilt an 8-foot-tall wall up into an 8-foot-high space. So, build the wall about 1/4 inch shorter than the height of the ceiling, and then place shims or thin blocks between the top plate and the ceiling.

Getting Started

First, mark the positions of the top plate and the sole plate. On the ceiling, mark both ends of the center line of the new closet wall. Measure 1 3/4 inches (half the width of a 2-by-4 top plate) on both sides of each mark. Snap parallel lines between corresponding marks with a chalk line to show the position of the top plate. How to build a closetThe Basic Structural Elements of a Closet ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Next, hang a plumb bob from each end of the lines, and mark these points on the floor. Snap two more chalk lines to connect the floor points, marking the sole plate’s position. If the closet has a side wall return, lay out the top plate and sole plate in the same way; use a framing square to make sure this will be perfectly perpendicular to the front wall. Cut each sole plate and top plate to the desired length. How to build a closet Mark the top plate and the sole plate together for stud locations, using a square and a pencil.

Lay each top plate edge to edge against its sole plate and flush at both ends. Beginning at an end that will be attached to an existing wall, measure in 1 1/2 inches (the thickness of a 2-by-4 stud), and then draw a line across both plates using a combination square. Starting from that end, measure and draw lines at 15 1/4 and 16 3/4 inches. From these marks, advance 16 inches at a time, drawing new lines for stud locations until you reach the far end of both plates.


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How to build a closet

There is not a spot in our house that is less organized than our closet. It doesn’t seem to matter if you have a walk in closet space, or a tiny little builder closet, you never have enough space for your pretty purses and your fav pair of pumps, right? And is there anything wrong with wanting it to look lovely, while you are at it? We think that isn’t too much too ask! However… basically, to get the look we are all dreaming of, you need to pay big bucks to a have custom closet built. Not on this blog! We tracked down the best bloggers out there, and found for you DIY closet organizer plans that any of us can use to build a custom organizer from scratch! So let’s get to it, pick yourself out the best match for your situation, and dig out the saw and the drill. We’re organizin’!

How to build a closet

DIY Closet Organizers

DIY Closet Organizer with Drawers

If what you are looking for is a gorgeous built in that gives you drawers, shelving and jewelry storage… Then this DIY closet organizer from ‘Nick & Alicia’ via ‘Build Something‘ is perfect for you. Throw in the fact that it can be adjusted to fit almost any size closet, and we have a winner!

How to build a closet

Kids Room Idea

Got kids? Then you have closet crud. Let’s join together in the fight again “the crud” and check out ‘Houseful of Handmade‘s closet organizer plan perfect for any kids room. Drawers, shorter hanging spaces and even open areas under the drawers for those inevitable skates or skateboards… Find Mom there whenever she needs to make a phone call.. It will be that nice!

How to build a closet

Organizer for Basic Build Closet

So… are we done here ladies? Seriously, is this lovely, or what? Then you have to find out how ‘Pink Little Notebook’ via ‘Remodelaholic‘ got this done. Learn how to build a closet organizer that you will never want to leave.

How to build a closet

DIY Closet Organizer Ikea Hack

Did you need yet another cool way to use an Ikea Billy bookcase? Well, this DIY closet organizer from ‘Home & Hallow‘ proves you did. Awesome, and pretty easy project for any of you that are afraid to jump into one of these complete custom closet jobs!

How to build a closet

Simple DIY Closet Organizer

Need a custom DIY closet organizer you can make in less than 3 hours, for around $70? Then ‘Homemade Modern‘ has got you covered… inside and outside the closet, it turns out. Because you can use this both as a closet organizer, or as a freestanding wardrobe!

How to build a closet

Plywood Box System

‘Making It in the Mountains‘ used a genius “box system” to create a customizable closet that can be changed by simply changing out the box, or simply changing how it sits in the organizer. Oh, and the wallpaper? Game on, readers. Game on.

How to build a closet

Small Closet Organizer

If you have a tiny sliding closet like we do in our condo, then you want to squeeze every last inch of storage out of it. Enter, the DIY closet organizer from ‘Fix This, Build That‘. Follow along all their step by step directions for turning this too small closet into a super organized space. And, it has drawers! Built in dresser!

How to build a closet

Custom DIY Closet

So we’re going to end with this gorge DIY closet organizer from ‘Pinspired To DIY‘… Not much more to be said, right? Go check out their complete tutorial!

How to build a closet

So if you ever wanted a gorgeous custom DIY closet organizer, today is your lucky day!
We think you will also love our post on Charming but Cheap Bedroom Decorating and also our posts on DIY Clothes Racks & DIY Murphy Beds over at OhMeOhMy!

Make the most of tight closet space with these storage-smart DIY projects.

Many new homes boast spacious walk-in closets, but apartment renters and old-house dwellers must often contend with closets that are diminutive by comparison. Those who survive with so little storage are all too familiar with the fact that using every inch is essential. So if you are looking for clever ways to pack more into less space, begin your journey toward clutter-free living with these five favorite DIY closet organizer ideas from around the Web.


How to build a closet

With a handful of dowels, a quartet of closet rods, and a single sheet of plywood, Ana White created this DIY closet organizer—and you can, too, using the woodworking plans she provides free. A versatile solution, the setup includes ample room not only for clothing, but also for miscellaneous personal items.


How to build a closet

Do you own more pairs of pants than you know what to do with? Consider a sliding pants rack. Either build your own or, if you prefer, purchase one ready-made. There are two great advantages to storing pants in this way: one, it prevents creases, and two, it gives you more real estate on the closet rod.


How to build a closet

For those poor in closets, additional closet rods promise rich rewards. Over at the blog 320 Sycamore, Melissa imposed tidiness on an unruly closet in one strategic stroke: By installing more rods, she brought the dead zones in her closet to life.


How to build a closet

A closet door can do more than simply open and close—it can provide storage for those sundry items that, if not corralled, create clutter and chaos. Even novice woodworkers can succeed in building this tiered array of shallow shelves specially designed to fit the back of the door panel.


How to build a closet

Typically, pegboard organizes tools and heavy-duty accessories in our basements and garages. But Missy of Lookie What I Did ingeniously affixed pegboard to the back wall of a closet, disguised it under a veil of neutral-color fabric, and arranged it to serve as a catchall for ties, socks, belts, and other small items.

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Closet Plans

Closet building is a great project for a beginner. It takes minimal carpentry, drywall and painting skills to accomplish this project. What’s more, if you use quick setting joint compound, you can actually complete a simple closet project in just two days. I have personally completed jobs like this in a short amount of time, but everything went just right. With proper planning, you can do it too!

Think Before You Act

The plan for your closet can be drawn on a napkin or the back of a paper bag. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated. What you are looking for is accuracy in your dimensions.

Use your existing closets as a guide. Are they deep enough or possibly too deep? Are there tough to reach corners because the door is too small? Is there wasted space inside the closet because it is too narrow and too tall inside? In other words, determine what would be the perfect interior dimensions for your perfect closet! Using a tape measure, you can accomplish this planning task in about 15 minutes.

Full Height Walls

If you have decided to go with floor to ceiling walls you need to know something. You can’t build these walls on the ground/floor and then tilt them up into place. The walls will get pinched when you get them close to the ceiling. The only time you can do this is when the ceiling plaster or drywall is not in place. You can then tilt the walls up and tuck the top of the wall between two ceiling joists. Once the wall is straight up and down you can then slide it into position under the floor joists.

Most of you will not have this option. You need to build the walls in place, one piece at a time. Be sure that you check each wall stud for a crown. A crown is a hump in the stud that you see when you look down the 1.5 wide edge of a stud. If the crowns do not all point or face the same direction, your wall(s) will be wiggly once drywalled.

If you want to avoid the use of strong language when you are in the last stages of this project – installing the shelves and clothes hanging poles – you better think about installing blocking in the walls before you hang drywall.

Years ago carpenters routinely installed solid scraps of 2×4 material within walls. These blocks allow the screws for just about any fixture to find solid material instead of hollow drywall cavities. All you need to do is calculate where shelves, poles and any other bracket might be placed. Then use 2×4 material placed on its side in between wall studs to create your blocks. Turning them on their side gives you a 3.5 inch wide target area. If you have larger scraps such as 2×6’s or 2×8’s then you will end up with a larger target.

If this is your first wall and door hanging project, you need to take a few precautions to avoid additional cursing. The rough opening you create for the door must be plumb, square AND in the same plane. It is the “same plane” aspect that most people forget. If the rough opening for the door is twisted (NOT in the same plane) then you will have a nightmare trying to get your door installed.

Here is how to get the door in the same plane. The bottom plate of the door wall MUST be continuous. In other words install the entire bottom plate as you start building the walls. Be sure to use perfectly straight top and bottom plates, and make sure that they are directly over one another. Use a plumb bob for this alignment task.

Door rough openings usually have a king stud that runs continuous between the top and bottom plate on each side of the opening. You then add the flat stud to create the rough head of the door. Then you pack or add cut cripple studs that go next to the king stud beneath the rough horizontal header. It is vitally important that the king studs on each side (MOST definitely the hinge side of the door!) of the rough opening are crown and bow free studs. This means that they are select grade – perfectly straight. If you do all of these things and install the king studs plumb, your finish door installation will be a breeze. Oh, yes, after the drywall is installed, use a hand saw or reciprocating saw to cut out the exposed portion of the bottom plate that you still see!

Thinking about installing lights in your closet? Most rookies wire up for an exposed pull chain bulb fixture. Want to know how much of a mistake this is? Just go to your local firehouse and talk with the fire fighters. They will tell you that people leave these lights on, some clothes fall against them and POOF, smoke/fire! Follow the most recent National Electric Code requirements and install lights according to code.

A tutorial on how to create plans to build a closet system or closet organizer.

As the last warmth of summer fades, I start to feel the anxiety of the most dreaded chore of the autumn season: finding space in the closet for our winter clothing. The closet rack does not budge with all the clothing we try to squeeze into one space. Our modest collection of shoes litter the floor like the fall leaves and clothes fly around in a sudden whirlwind as we try to locate a favorite T-shirt or jeans. It’s a constant struggle and I had to do something about it.

Does your closet need some organization like mine did? Maybe it’s adding bins or sorting clothes a new way.

Or perhaps your best solution might be to design your own closet system.

You can create plans for a closet organizer yourself, even for a small closet.

Let’s show you how to do it!

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links or referral links for your convenience. It is a way for this site to earn advertising commissions by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services, click here to read my full disclosure policy.

DIY Closet Organizer Plans

With some planning and a little guidance from me, you can design a custom closet that suits your storage needs perfectly.

The steps in this article will guide you on how to create your DIY closet organizer that will utilize every available space in your closet, help you find your clothing easily, and prevent a pile-up of clutter inside this tight space.

If you need additional help or if you want plans where you only have to enter your measurements, you can purchase one of my “closet organizer workbooks” to assist you in creating your closet organizer plans with more detailed instructions.

STEP 1: Measure the size of the closet

The first thing you need to do to create the plans for your closet system is to measure the dimensions of the closet.

These dimensions will be how wide the closet is, the depth, how tall from floor to ceiling, and the opening of the closet.

Make a sketch of your closet space on paper and add the measurements to the plan.

SIDE NOTE: Our closet is 65″ wide, which is about the standard size for a closet, but since ours is a master closet (for two busy adults), it feels tiny. Thankfully, it’s as tall as our ceiling, 8’ tall, and 2’ deep so there is room to work with.

How to build a closet

STEP 2: Create your closet organizer design

Now you’re ready to create the perfect design for your closet.

To help you get started, you can download a copy of my closet plans. You will need to subscribe to my newsletter to receive the FREE PDF – fill out the form below if you’re interested. Or, if you have questions, please visit the Q&A page on free printables/plans.

Please use my plans as inspiration for your design or maybe you will find that the actual organizer or system fits in your closet. If so, remember that you might still need to adjust the shelves or placement of the rods.

SIDE NOTE: There are different types of closet organizers or systems available. You can combine features such as multiple shelves, floating designs, and drawers of various sizes and purposes. I have designed and built two types of these closets and lucky for you, I included both of my plans in the free PDF.

I would recommend centering the organizer somewhere in the middle of the closet. Then, set up two hanging rods (for shirts) and one hanging rod (for dresses or hanging pants) on either side of the organizer.

The size of the organizer will depend on your available closet space and the length of your closet rods.

Once you have decided on how many rods you want to have, how long you want them to be, and the specific dimensions of your closet organizer, add these to your sketch.

TIP: It helps to decide on the amount of clothing you need to hang on rod(s) to determine the closet rod length.

Here’s a look at my closet system with drawers:

How to build a closet

And the closet organizer with just shelves:

How to build a closet

Your sketch will become your closet design plan but if you want to take it one step further, create a cutting list.

STEP 4: Determine your cuts

Now that you have your plan, you need to identify the cuts for each piece of wood.

It is crucial to get the correct measurements for projects like this, where your organizer has to fit within a specific space. And remember, not all wood is the size that is indicated in the store, e.g. a 1”x2” board’s actual size is 0.75”x1.5”.

SIDE NOTE: Plywood, thankfully, is normally the size indicated.

Determine the cuts of each board on your plan and note it carefully in your closet design.

TIP: My plan includes all these measurements if you need examples.

STEP 5: Create your cut list with diagrams

Now that you’ve determined the cuts, you need to create a cutting diagram for the sheets of plywood and trim boards. This step will let you know exactly how many boards and plywood are needed and where to cut each piece.

In my free PDF, you will find blank diagrams for the plywood and trim.

To create your own diagram, compile a list of all the cuts needed from the last step. Then, transfer your list to the diagram, starting with the largest pieces and working your way down until you have all your pieces identified on the diagram(s).

TIP: You should cut each sheet of plywood into strips so it’s best to group the pieces that are the same width.

SIDE NOTE: This is where my “closet organizer workbook” will come in very handy because I go into more detail on each step- plus it has pre-determined measurements, making the process easier!

Here is an example of one of my cutting diagrams for my floating closet organizer.

How to build a closet

STEP 6: Create your shopping list

Now that you know exactly how many pieces of plywood and trim boards are needed, it’s time to create your shopping list.

TIP: Be sure to check the blog post of the closet organizer you will be creating to get a list of all your supplies before you head to the store or shop online, the links are provided below

STEP 7: Build your DIY closet organizer

Once you have all your supplies and materials, start building your closet organizer. Here is a list of the closet organizers I have shared:

Take your time to design and create a DIY closet organizer plan that will work for your space. If you need additional help, be sure to purchase my closet organizer workbook for the type of closet system you plan on making.

Now, go and build your own closet system to organize your closet the way you want. And when you find your favorite outfit for the day in less than 2 minutes, you’ll have yourself to thank for that!

How to build a closet

Hey there, I’m Megan! I am here to inspire you to makeover your home into something you can love by sharing do-it-yourself home projects and woodworking builds. Learn more about me.

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Home » How to Build a DIY Closet System

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How to build a closet

How to build an organization system with shelves for your walk-in closet. This basic build will help you save money on a complete closer renovation!

This post contains affiliate links which may earn me commissions should you click through them and take certain actions. As an affiliate for Amazon and other sites, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please DIY carefully. View my full legal disclosures here.

Please read the whole post so you don’t miss any important information!

We’ve lived in our house for 3 years now and the master closet was suffering for the lack of an organization system. We’d been planning to put in nice shelves for a while, but never got to it. Check out how bad it was….

How to build a closet

But NO MORE. It’s done and it’s amazing and I love it.

The best part is that it’s simple. We put in a few different elements that might be of interest- but they all were basic to build. Nothing complicated. No drawers. No fancy details.

I wanted to build something that wouldn’t require us to learn new things- while that’s fine for a small project, it wasn’t something we wanted to tackle for such a large closet project. It also wasn’t something I felt was necessary because we have bureaus in our master bedroom to hold small clothing items. We are not a big accessory family… we tend to keep our lives fairly practical in terms of the “necessities.”

I also added a seating area with a memorial wall. Read more about my Memorial Wall and prayer/meditation area. The seating comes up with hidden storage for suitcases in the back.

Of course, I went through a lot of my clothes to upcycle and donate items that no longer fit. I wrote another post on how to upcycle clothing if you’re interested. I make beautiful baskets from upcycled fabric and it’s something I really enjoy (be warned: lots of hand sewing).

For the record, I did a wonderful job getting rid of all my maternity and nursing clothing… then SURPRISE, found out I was pregnant a month after sending everything to the thrift store. I had to laugh. So I will have some posts coming on how to sew lots of baby and maternity items once I regain some energy.

Supplies for a DIY Closet System

  • Plywood: We used high quality 3/4″ plywood that runs about $50 for a 4×8′ board. The store ripped the plywood into (3) 15 7/8″ strips for us so we could get it home in our van (and it saved us a lot of time cutting too). Two of the shelves used those dimensions. The shelf on the back wall, however, is much wider and we had to adjust our measurements for it. We also needed a piece of plywood for the seating area, and more 15 7/8″ wide plywood strips for along the top of the closet shelves.
  • Paint, spackling materials
  • Curved closet rod for corner
  • Old cabinet, painted and distressed
  • Upcycled crib mattress with fitted sheet, pillows, and any other decor
  • Closet rod sockets (we needed 5 sets)
  • Wood closet rods in lengths needed for closet

Do you keep track of your home renovation projects, quotes from contractors and more? This is a GREAT printable planner if you like to track this info for your personal records; you can record info on paint colors and appliance warranties too! Keep scrolling for the closet build tutorial!

Home Renovation Printable Planner

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This home renovation printable planner allows you to keep track of important home information, renovation plans, and completed home projects.

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DIY Closet System


The video shows some of the details of what we did as well as the final tour.

I started by removing all of the wire shelving. I kept those to either give away or reuse in our garage. I’m learning towards using them in the garage to organize more. I did a lot of patching on the walls and painted everything.

We built the three shelves in the garage and painted them white. I wanted them to be a light color, seeing the closet has no windows and I didn’t want the room to be too dark. Once dry, we brought them up to our closet and decided on placement. The curved rod meant carefully placing the two shelves on the left side so we’d get the maximum space to put clothing on the rod. Once the shelves were mounted to the wall, we added our rods. We used rod sockets with wood dowels. I stained the dowels with ebony stain. This was probably more work than was strictly necessary. Adding the second, lower rod was really helpful for creating extra space.

We added shelving along the top of the closet. It wasn’t something we need usually, but I figured it might come in useful occasionally. Now that we’re having another baby, we’ve been using baskets to store baby items up there until baby is born.

We used a big cabinet that I’d painted for the seating section. There’s a support along the wall and a piece of wood we laid on top of it all to create removable storage. The seat is just an upcycled crib mattress. When we want to get to our suitcases, we just lift up the mattress and remove the piece of wood. It’s not super convenient but it’s easy enough to lift and we don’t need to get into there often.

Finally, I painted an old mirror, took a white piece of wood and added hooks for a coat hanger on the shorter wall.

The closet organizer/shelves were made from Ana White’s Closet Organizer from One Sheet of Plywood plan. This was a great plan to follow. I won’t show details of that part of the project in my video because her tutorial has lots of info, but you can follow along for the rest of the project, as well as the “reveal” in the video.

Here are some highlights of the project:

This mirror was a favorite $10 yard sale find, but the pink paint just made me so happy.

How to build a closet

I know seating in a closet isn’t traditional, but I love my seating area. My kids want to move into my closet now so it may have defeated the whole point of giving me another place to hide, but it is really cozy!

How to build a closet

How to build a closet

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How to build a closet

If you liked this article, you’d also like the following posts:

How to build a closet

Basement storage areas are among the most sought after features in a home. Whether the basement is a finished or unfinished space, it offers almost unlimited options to create additional closet space.

The space underneath a staircase, for example, is a great place to build a closet. Closets can vary from very simple designs to elaborate affairs. Only you can determine to what extent you want to take the project. Follow these steps to build a closet under your basement stairs.

Step 1 – Measure the Space and Make a Plan

Measure the space where you want to build the closet. Sketch some plans and make detailed notes. The supplies listed here are meant for an 8-foot tall closet with a shelf built at the top and a row of shelves along one side. You will need to customize the list of supplies depending on your own plans.

Step 2 – Frame the Closet

Place the 2×12-inch boards next to existing framing in the desired location. Tack them to the existing framing and check to make sure they are level and even, particularly at the top. Shim if needed to make them even.

Secure the wood using the 3.5-inch screws. An additional piece of wood can be used as the top. Measure the length needed for the top and cut it to size. Place the additional 2x2x12-inch board over the two sides and secure it with screws. Now you have the framework for a closet.

Step 3 – Install Shelves and Rod

Use an additional 2×12-inch board inside the framing if you need to make shelves for the closet. Secure the additional piece of wood at a distance of 18-inches or wider if needed from one of the end supports.

For movable shelving, mark increments on each side to allow space for the shelves in even intervals. Use the .25-inch drill bit to make the holes. It is neither necessary, nor recommended that you drill all the way through the wood.

Drill to a depth of .25-inches. Shelf hangers are available at any hardware and many retail stores. Measure the space that you will need for the clothing rod or rods. Cut the pole or dowels to the needed length. Install the support brackets as per the directions on the packaging and slip the rods into the brackets.

Step 4 – Cut Shelves and Paint

Finish the project by cutting the plywood to the width and depth needed for shelving. Paint your new closet and shelves.

Add built-in shelving to your existing closet, or transform an unused space into a place for storage.

How to build a closet

Built-In Closet Storage

Transform an used nook into a closet with this easy DIY built-in storage unit.

Photo by: Wade Works Creative

Wade Works Creative

Related To:

Materials and Tools

  • (2) 3/4″ sheets of plywood (paint or stain grade)
  • (4) 1×2 x 10′ poplar boards
  • wood glue
  • (1) roll iron-on 3/4″ plywood banding
  • (6) European door hinges
  • (4) 2-1/2″ cabinet lag screws
  • (3) door pulls
  • desired paint or finish
  • (3) magnetic door stops
  • chop saw
  • circular or table saw
  • trim nail gun
  • drill
  • 1-3/8″ Forstner drill bit

Cut List

Piece A – shelf back plate: (1) 46-1/2″ x 46-1/2″ plywood
Piece B – bottom and top of unit: (2) 12″ x 46-1/2″ plywood
Piece C – sides of unit: (2) 12″ x 48″ plywood
Piece D – shelves: (2) 11-1/4″ x 46-1/2″ plywood
Piece E – vertical dividers: (3) 11-1/4″ x 15″ plywood
Piece F – horizontal face frame: (4) 3/4″ x 46-1/2″ poplar
Piece G – vertical face frame on dividers: (3) 3/4″ x 15″ poplar
Piece H – vertical face frame edges (for floating cabinet only): (2) 3/4″ x 48″ poplar
Piece I – cabinet doors: (3) 14-3/4″ x 14-3/4″ plywood

Cut Plywood Pieces

Cut one piece to 46-1/2″ x 46-1/2″ for the backing, two pieces to 12″ x 46-1/2″ for the top and bottom of the unit, two pieces to 12″ x 46-1/2″ for the sides, two pieces to 11-1/4″ x 46-1/2″ for the shelves and three pieces to 11-1/4″ x 15″ for the vertical dividers.

How to build a closet

Built-In Closet Storage

Lay piece A on the ground, and glue and nail two B pieces to opposite sides of piece A from the outside of the box. Piece B should not be resting on piece A. Wipe away any glue drips on plywood face while glue is still wet.