How to Build & Organize a Pantry

Having put it off for a week or two (because so many other things), I finally got around to putting together our pantry.
It seems like such a small space and such a simple project — it’s just a few shelves after all — but it took most of the day.
Once I’d cleared everything out (which took the better part of an hour) I was left with bare walls and a blank, if uninspiring canvas:
IMG_9513.JPGThe space had been created out of a former laundry area and had a number of issues with retrofitted plumbing and wiring, so I knew the walls, the floor and even the ceiling were unlikely to be perfectly even or level.

STEP 1 – Instead of trusting any points of reference, I made a plumb-line just higher than the top of the uppermost shelf. Juggling a measuring tape, 4′ long level and a lot of little pencil marks, I made a consistent, level line.

STEP 2 – I marked out the studs using an electric stud-finder. Normally, I’m pretty good at just tapping a wall to hear the dense spot, but there were so many ducts and oddities back there I wanted to be doubly certain that what I thought was a stud was not a gas pipe or cluster of wires (yikes!).

STEP 3 – Once the studs were identified, I drilled the vertical support tracks into them using 1 1/2″ wood screws. At first, I just used 2 screws per track. so that I could make sure the shelves were level and if not, adjust them accordingly. As it turned out, my caution was unnecessary as the shelves were perfectly level on the first try (hurray for plumb lines!), but it’s better to have to fix two screw-holes than six!

IMG_9519.JPGSTEP 4 – The shelves had to be custom-cut boards, so my dad came to help me with the circular saw. While I can use a power saw, it worries me for a very particular reason– I’m left-handed.

sidenote: While all sorts of things are affected by handedness (from learning and language development to opening cans and using scissors), perhaps one of the most sinister (haha!) problems is the design of power tools. Statistically, we south-paws are much more likely to be injured or even killed when using this sort of equipment, and saws are particularly terrible for the kind of blind-spots that result in lost digits and limbs. To avoid working blind, I often do things “backwards”, that is, I use my right hand. Over time, I’ve learned to be more-or-less ambidextrous, I’ve also learned to accept help when it’s offered!

STEP 5 – Once the shelves were cut (and in a few cases, re-cut for the tight-spots) we put them in place:

IMG_9516.JPGSTEP 6 – I use a “bin” system where our food stuffs are grouped in clear plastic storage containers. It makes it easier to reach and use those top shelves, to find items and to contain leaks and spills.

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Looking for more ideas for building and organizing your pantry? Click HERE for my idea board

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