How to Build Open, Old-Style Kitchen Shelves

Open shelving in the kitchen is a great way to display antique dishware.


Materials and Tools:

one 1/2" maple side piece at 38-1/4" x 11-1/4"
one 1/2" maple back piece at 48" x 38-1/4"
three 3/4" maple shelves at 10-3/4" x 39"
one 1/2" maple strip for bottom shelf at 1-3/4" x 39"
one 1/2" maple strip for bottom shelf at 2-1/2" x 9"
two 3/4" maple vertical frames at 1-1/2" x 48"
one 3/4" maple vertical frames at 1-1/2" x 44-1/2"
one 3/4" maple horizontal frame at 3-1/2" x 38-1/2"
one 3/4" maple horizontal frame 3-1/2" x 10-7/8"
pocket jig
pocket screws
wood glue
1-inch brad nails
countersink screws
eye goggles


1. Build your shelf pieces starting with the bottom. You'll be rounding one edge of the shelf unit, so draw a 90-degree curve in the top-left corner. Attach the two support strips to the bottom shelf.


2. Turn the bottom shelf over and cut out the rounded corner for the shelf.


3. Cut out the portions of the bottom shelf that will fit into the framework for the cabinet. Remove a 1/2" notch from the front corner of the shelf. Then measure down 31-1/2 inches and remove a 1-1/2" notch.

4. Trace the curve from the bottom shelf onto the two upper ones to assure all the shelves are the same size.


5. Next, use a table saw to rip down your side and back cabinet pieces. Attach them so that the side piece fits over the edge of the back piece.

6. Next, build your framework. Rip down the framing pieces. Miter the connecting ends of the horizontal pieces. Make four pocket holes at the opposite ends of the miter cuts, creating them on the same side as the long point. Nail your two mitered ends together. Then attach the two end frames with pocket screws.

7. On the shorter vertical frame piece, add two pocket holes at the top where it will connect to the horizontal pieces. Attach 33 inches from the end of the longer frame piece.

8. Arrange your shelves to the spacing that you like. Remember that your framework will leave you with a 3-1/2" top plate, so adjust your measurements accordingly. Use a straight edge to evenly place your lines.


9. Once you have your shelves placed, attach then with brad nails. Then turn the cabinet over again and use a straightedge to place accurate lines where your shelves are located. Secure them with countersink screws.

10. Put your framework in place. It should fit right into the notches on your bottom shelf. Attach with glue and brad nails.

11. Paint or stain as desired.

Next Up

How to Build Floating Storage Shelves

Carter Oosterhouse uses extra wall space to add more storage to an entertainment center.

How to Build Rolling Pool Table Covers

See how to build rolling tables to fit over a standard billiard table. They will protect your billiard table and can serve as a buffet at your next party.

How to Build Bookshelves for a Recessed Nook

Carter Oosterhouse turns an empty niche above a closet into practical storage.

Build a Coffee Table to Fit Over Storage Ottomans

A custom coffee table with a marble inset is made to slide over a set of cushioned ottomans.

Build Tall Storage Shelves Step-By-Step

Carter Oosterhouse builds a wall of storage in a small dining room.

A Square Coffee Table That Turns into a Rectangle Bench

Learn how to make a mosaic-topped coffee table that serves a dual-purpose as a dining room bench.

How to Build a Pot Rack With Shelf

An easy-to-make pot rack embellished with decorative mirrors adds beauty and function to a kitchen.

Build an Outdoor Cedar Table with Recessed Planter

A patio table is made from cedar and has a rectangular planter sunken into the middle.

Build a Bar-Height Dining Table

Learn how to construct an expandable, bar-height table with storage for a small dining area.

Build a Movable Butcher-Block Kitchen Table/Island

Stock cabinetry, store-bought butcher block and staircase posts come together to create a multipurpose table and work space.

Go Shopping

Refresh your home with stylish products handpicked by HGTV editors.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.