How to make no drill closet shelves for renters or campers!! My dad made me a set of small temporary pantry shelves years ago, and I never ever removed them. BUT! That's the great thing about these no drill closet shelves, if needed they are totally temporary. The temporary closet shelves easily dismantle if you need the closet rod back, or if you move!
Because I'm not a renter, I made my small no drill closet shelves for my Vintage Cruiser Camper. On either side of the bed are wardrobe closets, with hanging rods, and a very sort hanging area. Therefore all of my clothes (when hung on hangers) puddle at the bottom. I'm so excited to share this project with you, and I hope you have a place to put this awesome idea to good use. Possibly in your linen closet, pantry, or even YOUR camper!
Small Closet Solutions
Here is the closet in question. There are matching closets on the left and right side of the master bed. Seriously, WHAT do they expect you to hang in this small closet?
If you're renting a home, chances are your closet won't have the curvature that the camper wardrobe has. Even so, my directions will be the same with the exception of the thickness of wood.
No Drill Shelves for Small Closet
This is the finished project. For my no drill closet shelves, I used thin plywood. This will work for me because I wont have heavy items on my shelves.
If you're doing a pantry, you will want to use 1x6 or 1x8 lumber. Lucky me, I had all the supplies on hand. Let's see how easy these closet shelves are to put together!
On the left, notice the thin unpainted piece of plywood. In the middle, the long plank, and on the right some scrap quarter round or shoe molding.
Materials for No Drill Shelves
I'll be sawing my scrap pieces with a miter saw. You could easily use a handsaw or a jigsaw. If you're buying your lumber at the big box store, you can ask them to make a few cuts for you.
After cutting my long thin plywood in half, just the size I need for my no drill shelves, I cut the quarter round to use for cleats. These cleats will be supporting the shelves.
Line up Shelf Cleats with Carpenter's Square
Using a carpenter's square, I made pencil lines for placing the cleats.
Then I applied the wood glue and lined the cleat up on the side panel.
Clamp Shelf Cleats
Because the wood panels are so thin, the cleats need some extra help. Clamps allow the wood glue to set up without any shifting.
These planks are pre-painted because they are left over from my popcorn ceiling project. I cut them to size on my miter saw. You would of course have one plank for each shelf. Because I'm using what I have on hand, I'll make do with several on each shelf for now. If the no drill shelves work out as I plan, I may make changes down the road.
What Size Nails Do I Use?
For this very thin plywood you would use small ⅝" brad nails.
Shoot the nails with a nail gun after the glue has set up. I shot my nails from the front to the back. Because the nails are so small, they didn't protrude through the back. In all honesty, you really should shoot a few through the front and a couple through the back for best results.
I really love to keep a diluted bottle of dishwater for easy cleanup. You can see I used a rag and the soapy water to clean up the glue that oozed out. Because the wood was reclaimed, I wiped it all down as well.
Because you don't want clothes to get snagged, be sure to sand all the rough edges before installing your no drill shelves.
How Do You Install No Drill Shelves?
After removing the rod (and leaving the brackets) it's time to install the no drill shelves. It's really, really easy! Place the left and right panel against your wall. No hardware needed!!
Then simply POP IN the shelves! The key is to cut the shelves so they fit really snug. Why? Because the shelves are what are holding up the left and right panels. Brilliant? I think so!!! As I mentioned earlier, you will most likely have a shelf that fits side to side and front to back.
When you move (if you are a renter) or decide you want to use the rod again, simply pop out the shelves, let the side panels collapse, and voila! Your closet is back.
It really is a great way to add a temporary shelving solution to your home, rental space or camper!
Look how many items I can stack on the shelves! I could never hang this many clothes in such a tiny closet.
With all this extra storage space, I can take much longer trips! Bonus! If I sell the camper or change my mind, the no drill shelves haven't damaged the original wardrobe closet in the camper.
Do you have a place you can use extra shelving?
Between the studs Broom Closet
Hi, there! I’m Gail, the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. I’m obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believe that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again—myself included! I hope you’ll enjoy the journey and pick up a few tools along the way… literally!
We saw your no drill shelves a few weeks ago and installed ours today. We are in love with all of the extra storage we are getting!!
I am thrilled to hear this Sandi! Thanks so much for letting me know. You made my day!
awesome. thanks for easy instructions!
Yes, it is very brilliant! Renters are always looking for ideas that are not permanent.
Thanks Kelly. As I said, I have them in the camper as well as in my pantry. The pantry was done as a temporary situation about 25 years ago! LOL
What a clever idea! Thank you!
My dad made mine, so I was just copying his idea. But, hey! they work great!
Just following up—I finished the shelving for my armoire/linen cupboard. I want to thank you again for this wonderful idea! I used it for an antique armoire that I used as linen cupboard in my bathroom remodel. It totally allows the integrity to be preserved of the armoire, which had thin wood walls and nothing that could be screwed into it without ruining it.
I can see a lot of uses for this idea! Kudos!
that is so awesome. That's exactly the scenario I had in the camper. The walls were too thin. I'm so happy it worked out for you.
I just bought an vintage armoire to house my bathroom toiletries and linens as I have no linen closet. Since the sides of the armoire are thin and don’t have an corner bracing inside that I could drill into, I was at a loss as to how to mount shelving. Your technique is the perfect solution! Thank you so much!👍🏻
Oh my gosh! That is so awesome. I'm thrilled that you found my system useful. 🙂 I so much appreciate you letting me know that you stopped by and found the information you were looking for. It makes my day!!!!
This is a great post. You did a really good job on your step by step instructions. Much appreciated.
I’m going to give this a try in our motorhome. Our one closet is sufficient for hanging the clothes we want to hang. I’d love to do this with the other closet. Thanks for posting.
Awesome Jacie! I'm so happy you found this tutorial helpful!!!
Thank You! I've seen these without instructions. Now I can make them!
That's awesome!!! I'm so happy you can have a plan now. I use them all the time in the camper and I can get a LOT more on the shelves than I could even think about hanging on the rod. 🙂
Hi Gail, 40 years ago when I moved out of my parents, I moved my antique furniture with me too. I have a rosewood armoire that had been my closet because my room was the formal dinning room. I also had a ton of dishes, and glass items that I had picked up at church sales, yard sales and estate sales from the time I was a kid. Knowing not to damage the piece of furniture I built the same thing. Mine are 30” wide and I used 1”x2” for the cleats and 3/8” plywood for the sides. I put 1/4” shelves (that was a mistake) and I screwed the shelves down to the cleats. I did all of this with hand tools. It’s still just the way I built it. The shelves are still sagging in the middle. But haven’t changed from the day I built it in.
That's awesome Jennie. I'm teaching the next generation how to do what YOU and I already know. That's why I do what I do. These shelves are the perfect way to add storage without permanent damage to anything!
KAREN Jean HOEPKER
Love it Gail, Will have to do it on my camper.
Awesome Karen! So happy to inspire you to make this no drill closet system. I'm seriously loving it in my camper. Currently on a 14 day trip, and I needed to bring a lot of clothes. Going home for 4 days, then leaving again for a couple of weeks. 🙂
Happy trails to you!!!