Canadian Woodworking

Create more storage with this simple wardrobe

Author: Danny Proulx
Published: December January 2003

Many older homes have extremely small bedroom closets. However, these days we seem to have much more clothing than previous generations.


Those of you with a clothing storage problem understand the need for more space. An additional few feet for hanging clothes would be welcomed. The wardrobe project is simple to build and may just be the answer to your storage problem. This one was constructed with oak veneer sheet material but it could be just as easily built with plain MDF or particleboard and painted.

I’ve made mine a little fancier than normal by using solid oak corner and crown molding. But again, it isn’t necessary to spend the extra money if you’re only looking for a plain and simple wardrobe. Commercially made wardrobes are somewhat expensive. And, if they have a drawer like the one in this project, the price really climbs.

You will save a considerable sum of money by building your own wardrobe. The final cost, however, is dependent on what type of sheet material you decide to use, the size, and the cost of solid wood trim that can be added.

The wardrobe is not fancy – just a plain and simple storage solution for a bedroom or basement. It’s one of those “must do” projects that has been on your list for a long time.

TIP: If you are using 11/16” thick oak veneer particleboard for this project, you will find that the 4’ by 8’ sheets are heavy and awkward to handle. If you don’t own a good table saw, have the lumberyard make the first cuts. They normally charge a small fee per cut but you’ll avoid handling the full sheets.


Cut the two sides (A) as well as the bottom and top panels (B) to the sizes detailed in the materials list. The panels should be flush with the ends of each side board. Attach the sides to the top and bottom boards. Use glue and five 2” particleboard (PB) screws per joint. Install the screws through the side panels but be sure to drill pilot holes for the PB screws to insure maximum hold.


Install the ¼” thick veneer plywood backboard (C). Use glue and finishing nails, spaced about 8” apart, to hold the panel securely.

TIP: Be extra careful when cutting any cabinet backboard. If it’s cut square it will “square” the cabinet you are building. You can verify that your cabinet is square by making sure the diagonal measurements are equal. An accurately cut backboard will always pull the carcase into square.


While the case is lying flat, build a base using parts (D) (E) (F) and (G) according to the dimensions given in the materials list. Refer to the drawing when checking overall measurements. The base is made from 11/16” thick veneer particleboard cut at 45 degrees to form the corners. Attach the ¾” square cleats to the base frame and to the carcase with glue and 1 ¼” screws. Measure 2” in from all the edges to mount the base frame. Apply glue to the base and, using 1 ¼” long particleboard screws, attach it to the bottom of the wardrobe carcase.


Cut the lower and back shelf supports (H) and (J) and attach them to the carcase sides with 1 ¼” screws and glue from the interior of the wardrobe. The back support is held in place by using 1” screws installed through the back of the backboard and into the support. Note that the side supports are set back ¾” from the carcase side’s front edges.


Cut the lower shelf (K) using 11/16” veneer particleboard. Before installing the shelf on the support cleats, attach an 11/16” by ¾” molding support cleat to the underside of the front edge. Use glue and brad nails to secure the cleat. The 11/16” dimension of the cleat should be vertical. To verify that you have installed it correctly, the bottom shelf front thickness should be 1 ⅜”.


Apply glue to the top of all support cleats and install the shelf. Secure it in place with a few finishing nails through the top face and into the cleats.


Attach support cleat (M) to the underside of the top board (B).


Apply right angled molding to all the edges. It measures 11/16” by 11/16” on the inside faces. This molding is a standard item and available in most wood supply stores. Cut the molding at 45 degrees at all corners. However, on the top and middle shelves, the horizontal molding strips must be trimmed square after the 45-degree is cut. A straight cut, where the molding sides meet at the back of the 45-degree, is needed so it will properly join the vertical molding strips. Use a box to accurately cut the molding.

Apply corner molding to the front closet section as well as the drawer section.

Carefully mitre the corners. (Note: install the top and middle fixed shelf trim on the inside of the cabinet and install the bottom board trim on the outside at the bottom of the wardrobe).

Glue and nail the moldings to each side. You’ll need one strip on the bottom and one on each front and back edge. Stop the molding 11/16” from the top to allow room when attaching the crown.

The 45-degree cuts that meet at the outside intersection of the bottom shelf will create a wedge gap. This can be filled by cutting a small wedge and carefully pushing it into the holes. Glue is all that’s needed to hold the wedge in place.

TIP: If you want to avoid all the molding issues, you can use veneer iron on edge tape. However, assemble the cabinet box using hidden biscuit joinery so you won’t have any screw heads to hide.


I’ve used 3 ⅛” high crown molding for the top of my wardrobe. Cut the molding upside down in your mitre box to achieve the correct 45-degree angle. Attach the crown with glue and finishing nails. Install it 11/16” down from the top of each side board.


This drawer box is made with ½” thick Baltic birch plywood. It’s a simple box that uses a full thickness ½” Baltic birch plywood bottom and is assembled using glue and finishing nails. However, remember the rule when using bottom mount drawer glides. Most manufacturers require ½” clearance per side. It’s also good practice to leave a 1” allowance for drawer box to rail clearance. I’ve used 22” bottom mount drawer glides and added a centre divider in the box for strength.

Baltic birch (sometimes called, cabinet grade plywood) is void free and, therefore, the exposed edges can be sanded smooth.


Mount the two rod holder cleat boards (S) 10” down from the top board. Drill pilot holes and attach the cleats with glue and 1 ¼” screws. Plug the screw head holes with wood buttons.

The fixed shelf is 11/16” thick by 16” deep and 46 ⅝” wide. Apply glue on top of the rod holder cleats and secure the shelf board (T) with a few finishing nails.

This shelf should have its front edge covered with iron on edge tape. The edging should match the type of wood you are using.


Mount a clothes hanging rod about 12” out from the backboard. I’ve used a commercial version that is made of metal. Cut the two doors (U) and one drawer face (V) from one sheet of 11/16” thick veneer particleboard and then apply edge tape to all exposed edges. Before ripping the door widths, crosscut the drawer face so that the grain will match on the entire front of the wardrobe.

To calculate door widths when using hidden hinges, first measure the inside cabinet. Then, add 1” to that dimension and divide by two. That will be the width of each door.

Use three 107° European hinges for each door and install following the directions supplied by the manufacturer. Then secure the drawer face to the box using four 1” screws through the box. There are dozens of door options available. However, frame and panel models made by a door factory will be expensive because these are large doors. The veneer particleboard doors with taped edges are reasonably priced but very plain looking. If you want something a little fancier without spending a great deal of money you can add some molding to the door slab.

The corner trim is an option you can eliminate. It’s a different treatment and one that requires a fair amount of patience. Simply applying wood veneer edge tape to all exposed edges is an acceptable and less costly alternative.

A 1 ½” diameter wood dowel can be used for the hanging rod. But, the metal rods are adjustable and very easy to install. As well, there are a wide variety of accessories available for closets nowadays and it would be worth your time to browse through the home store for additional ideas.

As I mentioned, less expensive sheet goods can be used if you plan on painting the wardrobe. If, for example, you need a clothing storage centre in your basement, use ¾” particleboard or MDF. Give the wardrobes a couple of coats of good paint and you’ll have a great storage option for all those seasonal clothes.

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