This post will show you how to make these easy wall shelves that swing out, providing ample wood storage for small spaces.
In an effort to share more creative DIY ideas and generate fresh content, my friend Megan from Two Feet First and I have co-organized a group of fun DIY challenges.
For every month, there is a theme, and almost 40 talented DIY bloggers will be participating and sharing their how to projects focused on that theme. The themes are really fun, such as building a whole project with a 2×4 or building a piece of furniture cheaper than buying it – you can find more here – At Home DIY.
This month’s theme is to Build to Organize, and my hubby put together these DIY swing out wall shelves for my craft room. Be sure to scroll to the end of this post to check out everyone’s “Build to Organize” projects. There are some awesome organization DIYs!
DIY Swing Out Wall Shelves
I love a good storage solution – a creative way to store something, a hidden pull-out cabinet, furniture that folds out from the wall.
In fact, the tiny house shows are my favorite. I am always oogling at all the ideas to create more storage.
I have a little craft corner in sitting room off our bedroom, where I thought I had completely maximized my wall storage space. However, I found a seven-inch area on the end of a cubby shelf we built, where I could add more storage.
When thinking about organizational ideas, I was thinking of making just a simple shelf to hold some of my acrylic paints, and then my hubs comes along and turned my design into a swing-out shelf, that would hold three times the paint bottles.
Who can say no to that?!
After all that, it looked just a little too plain, so I added the colorful background.
The best part of this design is that you can build just the simple shelf, or you can build both pieces, making this easy DIY swing out wall shelf. The simple shelf holds one row of paints, and the second piece holds two rows of paints. If you build the whole thing, like we did, you’ll have three rows of shelving.
Here our my hubby’s instructions on how he built these swing out shelf cabinet.
Design for Swing Out Shelves
Here is the design for the swing out wall shelves that I sketched on my computer:
The swing out shelf was going to attach to the end of a cubby shelf I had built. We love to maximize all the space everywhere.
The project consisted of two vertical boxes of shelves. Either one could work as a stand alone shelf, but we like to kick things up a notch. So I planned on hinging the shelves together for maximum storage efficiency. The left box would swing freely, and the right box would be affixed to the wall.
For the freely swinging box, I had to put small ledges to prevent items from sliding off the shelves while opening or closing the unit. I also had plans for a small magnetic catch to keep the shelves closed when not in use.
Instructions for Building Swing Out Shelves
To start this project, I used my table saw and cut out a piece of 3/4″ thick plywood, about 30″ x 12″. This piece would be used to construct the frames for the two shelving units. I actually wanted to use boards for these shelves, but I didn’t have any lying around the garage.
So plywood would have to do.
The disadvantage of the plywood was that I would have to glue on some trim to hide the exposed plywood edges. Also, plywood doesn’t have as smooth a surface as boards. However, I love a good scrap wood project, and this route worked well.
Cutting Grooves for the Shelves
With my plywood cut, I used a pencil and ruler to mark the positions of slots where the individual shelves would go. I planned on cutting grooves to insert 3/8″ thick plywood sheets for the shelves.
Here’s a picture of the marked up plywood with shelving grooves outlined:
I used my table saw to cut out the shelving grooves. Since the table saw blade was only 1/8″ wide, I had to make 3 separate cuts to get each 3/8″ wide groove required for the shelves.
After each cut, I slide the plywood over by 1/8″ until I achieved my desired groove thickness.
Here’s a close-up of one of the grooves being cut by the table saw:
Times like this I wished I had some dado blades. I would be able to stack multiple blades together to make a 3/8″ cutting surface, and cut out the grooves in one pass, instead of three.
Here’s a picture showing all the shelving grooves cut out:
Cutting the Strips for a Swing Out Wall Shelf Frame
Next, I used the table saw again to cut the plywood into strips to be used to construct the shelving boxes:
Constructing a Frame for the Swing Out Wall Shelves
To join the plywood pieces together to form a frame, I used construction adhesive, a bar clamp, and my finishing nail gun.
Here you can see I clamped together some plywood strips to get ready for nailing:
Here’s a close-up of the finishing nailgun in action:
Once I joined four pieces of plywood to make a frame, I nailed on a backing strip of 3/8″ plywood:
To build the second shelving box, I repeated the same steps for the first box. However, I omitted the the 3/8″ plywood backing sheet, as it was not needed for the second box.
Here are both shelving boxes assembled:
Cutting and Inserting the Plywood Shelves
Next it was time to cut 7.5″ long strips of 3/8″ thick plywood for the individual shelves. Theses were going to be inserted into the grooves I cut earlier.
I used the miter saw to quickly cut the strips:
Here I am inserting the 3/8″ plywood shelves into the boxes:
Here is the completed pair of shelves:
Trimming and Painting the Swing Out Wall Shelves
Next I used the table saw to cut strips of 3/8″ plywood trim for the shelves:
I used constructive adhesive to attach the trim to the plywood boxes:
Here are the completed shelving boxes with trim:
Now it was time for a paint job:
Decorating the Swing Out Wall Shelves with Patterned Paper
After the paint dried, I wanted to the give the inside shelving box a colorful look. So I planned on cutting out rectangular sheets of patterned paper and adhering it to the back of the shelves with Mod Podge:
Here’s some of the card stock paper I used for this step:
The inside shelving box was completed. It looked awesome with the patterned paper:
Now it was finally time to connect the two shelving boxes with a hinge. Here I have placed a hinge on the two boxes, and marked the center holes to pre-drill for screws:
Mounting the Swing Out Wall Shelves
With the hinges attached, I needed a way to mount the shelves on some custom built cubbies I made recently. Instead of just screwing the shelves to the cubbies, I opted to mount the top and bottom with some metal plates, as seen below:
Finally, it was time to mount the shelves! I positioned them in between the metal plates attached to the cubbies, and screwed them into the plates.
The metal mounting plates (also called mending plates) worked out great because I didn’t have to see screw heads holding the shelves on.
Also, I didn’t have to put any visible screw holes into the cubbies in case I wanted to move the shelves somewhere else in the future.
However, if you’re doing a similar project, you may not have a mounting area with the same height as your shelves.
So it’s just as easy to mount the shelves to a wall. I would suggest using screws with washers to fasten the plywood backing of the inner shelving box to the wall. The washers would help prevent the plywood from ripping through the screw heads and falling to the ground under load.
Swing Out Wall Shelves in Action
Here are some pictures of the awesome mounted shelves. Here is the shelf mounted and empty. You can easily see that the swinging part can hold two rows of acrylic paint.
Here is the closed swing out shelf. It’s actually three rows deep – the first two rows of paint are on the swinging door.
And, here is the swinging shelf open:
I used all scrap wood for these swinging wall shelves, so the budget was very low – under $15 for the hinges. Even if I had to purchase the wood though, I can’t image it being more than $35 in total to make this project.
Let me know if you try it out!
Be sure to check out all of the below projects – all featuring builds that organize. Enjoy all the inspiration!