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How to build a shelf (in a door)
How to build a shelf (in a door)

Gather your supplies

  • Door 2040 x 820 x 35mm solid core door
  • Shelving unit sides (2) 184 x 19 x 1725mm pine
  • Shelving unit shelves (7) 184 x 19 x 480mm pine
  • Lip beading (6) 12 x 12 x 480mm pine
  • Vertical beading (2) 12 x 12 x 1749mm pine quad
  • Horizontal beading (2) 12 x 12 x 542mm pine quad
  • Cleats (2) 70 x 19 x 560mm pine
  • Back beading (2) 12 x 12 x 1725mm pine quad
  • Shelving unit back 1725 x 518 x 3mm white melamine MDF (see Note)

You'll also need

100mm chrome broad butt hinges (4); assorted nails and screws; wood filler; primer, sealer and undercoat; acrylic low sheen (we used Dulux Aquanamel Low Sheen in Lexicon); magnetic catch

Here's how

Step 1

To remove old door, support it on wedges or a chisel and undo screws, leaving 1 screw in top hinge until last. Undo last screw and remove door. Take off old hinges, handle and any other hardware.

Step 2

Put old door on new door, aligning hinge side of old door with factory edge of new door. This ensures hinge side of new door will be factory perfect and as strong as possible for attaching new hinges. The doors should also be flush at bottom so you need to make only 2 cuts to make new door the right size. Mark around 2 remaining edges with a pencil.

Step 3

Cut side of door using a straightedge to guide saw. The old door makes a handy straightedge. Space it away from cutting line, the same distance as between edge of saw base and saw blade. Clamp in place and make cut. Repeat for top of door, as necessary.

Step 4

Draw lines 100mm in from sides and top of door, and 200mm up from bottom for opening. Mark out rectangle, then plunge cut with a power saw. To do this, pivot front of saw plate on door, so blade is a little forward of corner. Align blade with inside of cut, start saw, then feed it gently into door. When base is fully in contact with door surface, move saw forward. Never cut backwards. Finish corners with a handsaw.

Step 5

Use old door again to mark in top of top hinge and bottom of bottom hinge, then use new hinges to mark housing for hinges. Add 2 more hinges, equally spaced, between top and bottom hinges, so shelving door can take extra weight of ornaments and books.

Step 6

Put door in door stand or clamp so hinge edge faces up. To cut hinge housing, first chisel housing perimeter. Saw tooth to get right depth, then par with chisel to smooth hinge housing. Repeat for all hinges, then screw hinges in place with 1 or 2 screws.

Step 7

With all hinges fixed, hold door in opening and mark in all hinge positions on door jamb. Chisel out housings, then hang door again with 1 or 2 screws to test swing. Adjust, if necessary, then remove door and hinges.

Step 8

Cut shelving unit sides to length. From bottom, mark 19, 339, 358, 678, 697, 967, 986, 1256, 1275, 1481, 1500 and 1706mm to give you two 320mm-high shelves, two 270mm-high shelves and two 206mm-high shelves. Square lines across both sides, predrill 2 clearance holes between lines, then glue and screw 1 side to each shelf, making sure they’re screwed on square.

Step 9

With all shelves fixed to 1 side, screw on at other side, ensuring everything remains square.

Step 10

Draw a 3mm quirk (setback) along front of each shelf. Glue and nail on lip beading along line to form a small lip along front edge of each shelf. This will prevent books and objects sliding off the shelves. Finish nails with a punch to avoid bruising pine.

Step 11

Around perimeter, draw lines set 5mm back from front edges of shelving. Cut vertical and horizontal beading with a 45° mitre at each end, then glue and nail beading around perimeter of shelving unit.

Step 12

Apply glue around perimeter of opening in door, then lower shelving unit into position. Make sure it is seated down properly, then screw through sides into door.

Step 13

Turn over door and screw on the 2 cleats after cutting a small triangle off each corner (just for fun!). Then nail on back beading to hide joint between shelving unit and door.

Step 14

Fill all screw and nail holes that will be visible, then sand smooth when dry. Undercoat, then apply 2 coats of acrylic paint to door, including top and bottom, and shelving unit. Paint back separately, as this makes it easier to paint. When dry, nail on back, making sure joint is over back of 1 shelf.

Step 15

Re-hinge door to jamb. Whether you put a handle or press latch on door is optional, but the shelving unit looks great with no external sign of a handle or latch. Add a small magnetic catch at top to hold door shut.

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