How to Build Freestanding Storage Cabinets

A major benefit of freestanding storage cabinets, which are unattached to walls or other furniture for support, is their flexibility -- you can move the unit around in your home as you please. If you do not want to spend the money on a preassembled one, build one yourself using basic plywood and common hardware tools.

  1. Use the pencil and measuring tape to draw the pieces needed for the freestanding storage cabinet on the plywood boards. Draw two pieces for the sides measuring 60 inches by 20 inches. Draw four pieces for the top, bottom and shelves measuring 30 inches by 20 inches. Lastly, draw two pieces measuring 60 inches by 30 inches for the back and the cabinet doors. (These measurements are for an average-sized, 5-foot-tall unit.)
  2. Cut the pieces out one at a time using the jigsaw and group like sizes together, so you do not get confused. Use sandpaper to remove the sawing residue and splinters from the edges.
  3. Place the two side pieces down and grab the pencil and measuring tape. Measure 1/2 inch inward from both ends on one piece and make a line on each end. From one of the lines, measure 19.33 inches and make a line. From that line, measure 1/2 inch and make a line. Continue doing this until you have four 1/2-inch spaces and three 19.33 spaces. Repeat this pattern on the second side piece.
  4. Take one of the 30-inch by 20-inch shelving pieces and line it up perpendicular to one of the side pieces. Place it so the end of the smaller piece fits into one of the 1/2-inch spaces drawn in the previous step. Connect the two using the hammer and two nails, so the nails extend into the smaller piece of the two. Repeat this step with the remaining three pieces.
  5. Line the second piece up to the opposite ends of the four smaller shelving pieces. Install the second side piece in the same manner using two nails per shelving piece. When done, raise the freestanding shelving unit so it stands upright.
  6. Take one of the two remaining pieces and line it up to the back of the unit. Attach it to the wooden frame by hammering nails into the back piece, so the nails extend into the wooden cabinet frames.
  7. Take the measuring tape and pencil and draw a straight line down the middle of the remaining piece. This creates two cabinet doors. Cut the piece in two using the jigsaw, and sand the freshly cut edges.
  8. Attach two hinges on each side of the cabinet unit sides. Use the 1/4-inch screws to install the hinges on the inside of the cabinet, so the hinges do not interfere with the shelves. There should be two hinges per side piece, spread evenly apart to give the doors the proper support.
  9. Line one door up to one side and attach the hinges on the inside of the door using the 1/4-inch screws and the screwdriver. Repeat this step with the other door and other side piece hinges. Open and close the doors once they are installed to ensure they can open and close without problems. Install doorknobs on each door using the screwdriver and the 3/4-inch screws. Use the level when installing doorknobs, so they're installed evenly on the doors.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 1/2-inch plywood sheets
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Level
  • 4 hinges
  • 1/4-inch screws
  • 3/4-inch screws
  • Screwdriver
  • 2 doorknobs

About the Author

Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.