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  Installing Closet Shelving  
  Cutting and installing closet shelving is much faster if multiple-shelf areas—like shoe shelves, sweater shelves, and double-pole shelving—are cut to similar even sizes, so all multiple-shelf units should be cut in packages. Repetitive stops can then be used as much as possible. The sizes of these packages (ie: 24-in.wide shoe shelves, 32-in. wide sweater shelves, 36- in. wide double-pole shelves) should be decided before beginning any layout work. That way, layout and cut-lists can be simplified and production increased.

ALWAYS start layout in a corner with a shoe shelf, sweater shelf, or double pole.

ALWAYS finish in a corner with a single shelf because that’s the only special measurement required.

The Layout

Begin by locating each of the vertical dividers. Mark both sides of each divider, so that the next divider can be located accurately and ensure that shelving packages will fit properly.Use uniform sizes for multiple-shelf areas   After all the dividers are located, use a level to draw plumb lines at each location and place an X on the side of the line where the 3/4-in. divider goes.




Then mark the locations for the shelving and use a level to draw horizontal lines for each shelf and pole. Include lines for lower poles, too.

  Layout for the single long-hanging shelf last.  That is the only shelf & cleat that needs to be measured.  All the other pieces should be pre-cut kits.

REMEMBER: mark the wall for a 1x4 cleat wherever a closet pole will be installed, because 1x4 is wide enough to accept a closet-pole rosette. BUT use 1x2 cleats for sweater shelves and shoe shelves—for any shelf that doesn’t have a closet pole beneath it.


The Dividers

Cut all the pieces for every closet before beginning the installation. To allow for changes in floor covering and vacuum cleaners, cut the bottom of dividers at an angle, beginning about 12 in. off the floor and leaving 1 in. of the divider sitting on the floor. One inch provides enough support and also allows room for the baseboard to terminate at each divider.
  Cut the tops of the dividers, too. Shelving over closet poles should be 12-in. wide, so that it won’t project over the pole and interfere with placing a clothes hanger. But dividers are best if they’re 16 in. wide, to provide support for a closet-pole rosette 12 in. from the wall. So cut the tops of dividers at a 1-in. or 2-in. radius, leaving enough room for the rosette. Use a laminate trimmer fitted with an 1/8-in. round-over bit to gently ease all the sharp edges

  The First Step


ALWAYS start installation at a multiple-shelf corner. Nail the cleats to the wall first. Use a stud sensor or magnet to locate the studs so that the cleats will be well secured to the wall.



Next, nail the first divider into the ends of the cleats. Pre-cut all dividers the same length. If the floor dips, shim the bottom so that the top of the divider is flush with the top of the cleat. If the floor rises, cut the divider to fit.


After the first divider is secured, install the next set of cleats, and then the following divider, etc.




The Cleats

Driving nails into the end grain of MDF and particle board is bad. MDF flakes and splits easily with the grain. Instead, install cleats on all dividers beneath each shelf using 1 1/4 in. nails and glue. Cleats support the weight directly and are more durable than nails driven through the dividers into the end of each shelf. Cut the cleats about 1/4 in. to 1/2 in. short from the front of the divider, so the job looks clean and neat. ALL this cutting should be done with a repetitive stop on a chop saw.


The Shelving

Once all dividers and cleats are secured, start installing the shelving. ALWAYS begin with the shelves nearest to the floor—or your nail gun might not fit in for the last shelf. Install the continuous top shelf last


Biscuits are the best method for reinforcing the inside corner where two shelves meet.


The Poles


Install the closet poles last. Attach the rosettes to the hook strip centered in the 3 ½ in. cleat, which places the top of the pole well below the bottom of the shelf. In addition, the back of the rosettes should be 12 in. from the wall—1/2 in. in front of the shelf, to allow room for hangers to clear the pole.

After the rosettes are installed, measure and cut each pole long enough so that it fits snugly into the rosettes, but not so tight that the pole pushes the dividers out of line.

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