DIY Project, How To Build Your Own Plate Rack Cabinet
Need a plate rack for your pretty china?
So you have all that pretty china that you've been collecting over the years and you want a plate rack to show it off? I wanted that too. I searched high and low for a plate rack that would suit my needs. What I found was, either the plate racks were ridiculously expensive, like out of this world expensive, or, I couln't find one that fit the space that I needed it to fit.
Most of the plate racks within my budget were approximately half the size as the one I envisioned for the space. Ok, now what? I kept playing around with the idea of just trying to build one. I played with the idea in my head awhile and started drawing it out on paper. What exactly do I want the cabinet to hold, besides plates? I have a habit of trying to design or build something in my head awhile, then I start to sketch things on paper. Last, but not least, I'm off to the hardware store. Okay, here goes. This is what I did.
I couln't find it, or I couldn't afford it.....
If you are like I was and want a plate rack but for some reason or another you just can't get your hands on one that suits your needs, try building one yourself like I did. No, I did not have any experience with something like this before but it didn't stop me from trying. I designed it and built it and I've been using it for several years now. It cost way less than purchasing it at retail and I have to say it's built better than my kitchen cabinets that I purchased which are now falling apart. I built my cabinet exactly as I needed it to fit within the space.
I did it and you can too. Let me get you started.
*This DIY assumes that you already have the basic knowledge of how to use a saw, a drill, and basic handheld tools. This is NOT a lesson about how to use these tools. I have, however; added the following utube video (courtesy of Lowes), for those of you who need a small primer with using the miter saw.
Learn the basics on How to use a Miter Saw - Miter saw techniques
I used a miter saw when making my cabinet. A table saw or circular saw will work also. If you need tips on using a miter saw, this video should help get you started. He will give you the basic information you may need for making different cuts for your cabinet.
Plan and Design
First things first, Plan and Design
Plan where you want the plate rack. Design the look of the cabinet.
Step 1 - The first thing you're going to need to do is identify the location in which you would like to have a plate rack located.
ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS BEFORE BEGINNING THE PROJECT:
Do you have room for one in your kitchen?
When we were remodeling our kitchen I was told by the cabinet design company that I didn't have room for one. What he didn't know was, where there is a will, there is a way. The only one available through the cabinet company was a small wall display that would maybe hold ten plates and nothing else. That would not be suitable for my needs. I wanted to display more than plates and I wanted it larger and made good and sturdy.
Do you want the plate rack to hang on the wall, or sit on the counter against the wall like mine?
If your going to hang it on the wall. The weight of the finished cabinet has to be taken into consideration. You may have to use lighter weight materials and also anchor the cabinet to the wall with the appropriate anchors.
Plan the space where you want your cabinet. In my case, I had to remove a wall cabinet. My plate rack cabinet sits on top of the counter and goes almost all the way to the ceiling. It is NOT attached to the wall. It holds a lot more than a few plates.
Step 2 - Measure the location. height, width, depth.
Step 3 - Now, measure it again just to make sure of your dimensions. Write these measurements down.
Next, let's sketch it out. - Make a rough sketch of the plate rack you're planning to build.
Step 4 - Grab a sketch pad (or graph paper ), and a pencil and do a rough drawing of your cabinet plan. Go ahead and draw in your shelves where you want them, cup hooks, etc. It doesn't have to be pretty, just make sure you're giving it some thought before we get to the actual work.
ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS:
How tall does the dowel insert need to be in order to hold my plates? Measure your tallest plate and add extra space to that so you will be able to insert and remove the plate with ease.
How much space should be between the plates? My dowels are approx. 1 1/2" apart, the plates remove and insert quite nicely.
Do you want the plates to sit up completely straight on it's edge, or, do you want them to lean to one side? My larger plates stand pretty much straight up, the smaller plates lean toward the left.
All of these things are questions you need to answer. There is no correct answer, it is personal preference.
Tools required to complete this project.
These are the tools that I used. You may or may not have all of them, if not, maybe you can improvise.
- cordless drill and drill bits
- miter saw, table saw, or circular saw
- safety glasses
- dowel quick (used to drill perfect holes for your dowels, every time!)
mine is made by - Wolcraft
You can also download the pdf manual for this tool..
- tape measure
- level and a T-square
- dremel like tool (for cutting around outlets and wall switches)
- large wide clamps
- small hand held clamps
- screwdriver or screw driver bits
Supplies Needed: - building and finishing supplies
These items may differ somewhat depending upon your design.
- 1 x 10 x 3/4 lumber, for the cabinet shell and shelves
- 1 x 4 lumber for the apron front
- 1 x 2 lumber for the plate rack insert panels
- wooden dowels for the plate rack insert panels
- bead board paneling (for the back of the cabinet)
- wood glue or construction adhesive
- wood screws
- sandpaper and tack cloth
- primer, paint or stain (also, a sealer, if you like)
- appliques or trims
*Wear your safety glasses!
Remember safety first and wear your safety glasses when using your saw.
Let's Get Started
Measure Twice, Cut Once! - It's time to lay out the lumber & mark your cuts
Step 5 - I began by measuring and marking the two vertical pieces for the left and the right outer sides of the cabinet. *see Fig.A
Lay out one piece of the lumber, using a pencil, mark your height measurement (total height you want the cabinet to be) for the left side.
When you measure and mark it, you will want to do that in three different places at the end measurement, front, center; and rear of the end you're cutting.
Lay out another piece of your cabinet lumber, mark your height measurement again (total height for the cabinet).
Step 6 - Take the pieces out into the shop or garage, or outdoors, wherever you are accustomed to using your saw. Make the cuts on these 2 pieces.
*Wear your safety glasses, please!
Now, set these two pieces aside and let's move on.
Cut the shelves of your cabinet. - Cut the shelves, top and bottom of your plate rack cabinet.
Step 7 - Next, you will cut one piece of the 1 x10 to the total width of your finished cabinet (minus the thickness of the 2 sides).
This piece will sit at the very top (inside) of the left and right outer pieces. Fig.B
Step 8 - Next you will cut pieces for the shelves. (using your 1 x 10 lumber)
How many shelves have you drawn into your design?
I have 3 shelves, plus the bottom piece. I will cut these 4 pieces the exact same measurement as the top piece that I already cut.
*Your plate rack will sit between any two of these shelves.
Let's cut the front apron piece. - Cut the apron from a 1 x 4
.Now, we cut the apron and the divider if you want one, as shown in Fig C.
Step 9 - The apron is cut from your 1 x 4 lumber.
Cut it the exact same size as the shelves you cut earlier.
Step 10 - The divider is cut from your 1 x 10 lumber. Just measure the height between 2 of your shelves and cut a divider piece to fit between the two shelves.
Now, let's cut the plate rack inserts. - We will cut and assemble 2 inserts.
Step 11 - Let's make plate rack insert panel.
For this part you will need your 1 x 2 lumber and your wooden dowels.
The size of your wooden dowels in a personal preference, these can be found in the trim section of your local hardware or building supply store.
Notice the picture(s) of the plate rack insert as shown in Fig. D and Fig E.
Make 2 of these inserts.
One will sit at the back of the cabinet and one will sit at the front.
*It is important that both panels are exactly the same so that they line up correctly for proper insertion of your china.
To make the plate rack inserts
First decide where you are going to attach it, between which two shelves?
Next, meaure the width of these two shelves again.
Step 11a - Now, cut 4 pieces of 1 x 2 the same width as your shelf.
Take 2 of these 1 x 2 pieces and turn them on their sides (narrow end up), set the other two aside for now.
Clamp these 2 pieces together so they align evenly.
Step 11b - Measure and mark for your dowels (on both of the pieces you have clamped together).
How many dowels will you need? How many plates do you want to hold?
My plate rack inserts hold 17 dowels, all spaced approx 1 1/2 " apart.
Step 11c - Next, I will use the DOWEL QUICK tool to drill my holes for the wooden dowels.
Align the dowel quick tool to your evenly spaced marks and drill a small pilot hole. I do this to avoid splitting the wood.
Do this all the way down your 2 pieces of 1 x 2 you have clamped together, being careful to center your holes.
Step lld - After you are done drilling your pilot holes, change your drill bit to the correct size for your dowel and drill the holes again, this time to fit the wooden dowel.
Step 11e - Next, you will cut your dowels to the proper height (for your sized plates).
Step 11f - Begin to put your wooden dowels into one piece of the 1 x 2.
Use wood glue, insert the dowel and lightly tap into place.
Wipe off all excess glue.
After you have inserted all of your dowels into one of the strips you will then tap down (and glue) the other 1 x 2 strip onto the other end of the dowels.
*You should now have a completed plate rack insert, as shown if Fig. E.
Step 12 - You will need to build one more just like it.
When assembling your plate rack cabinet, one of these inserts will sit at the back of the shelf (approx 1" in from the shelf edge), and one insert will sit at the front (approx 1" in from the shelf edge).
If you have completed your 2 separate plate rack inserts. We have all the main pieces ready and we can move on to dry fitting all of the pieces.
Right now, we are checking that everything fits properly before assembling. The only thing that should be assembled at this point is the 2 plate rack inserts, but they should not be attached to the cabinet yet.
Plate rack panels close up view.
Close up of the plate rack inserts.
Let's dry fit everything - Get out the big clamps and dry fit your plate rack cabinet.
Step 13 - Okay, so now that you have all of your pieces cut, it's time to DRY fit everything. Do NOT use glue or screws yet.
You will need your large clamps (at least 36" wide), and an extra pair of hands if you can find them.
Start by placing one shelf close to the center of the unit and add the left/right vertical panels to each side, clamp it together.
Slowly add in the top, bottom and other shelves according to your design. Be careful to align and level your shelves exactly as you have planned for in your drawing . Your going to need more clamps!
After you have everything in and clamped, place in one of your plate rack panels to assure it fits properly.
This is the time to get out your largest china plate and make sure that it fits too.
Step 14 - Make any adjustments as necessary if your fit isn't quite right.
If you need to trip anything a little shorter, try using a dremel like tool. If you need to sand any rough edges so that the pieces fit together smoothly, do it now also.
Assemble the plate rack cabinet. - It's time for glue and screws.
Step 15 - Let's assemble the pieces and make your cabinet complete.
Have your large clamps ready, you are going to need them.
Have your glue and a shop towel ready. Use construction adhesive, weldbond, or woodglue.
Have your drill, bits and wood screws ready.
I begin by making sure everything is aligned, level, and squared properly.
Step 15a - I attached one of the middle shelves first. I applied wood glue and then add wood screws to each side using my cordless drill. Countersink the screws if you like and then cover the screw heads for a cleaner finished appearance.
Step 15b - Continue attaching all the shelves, top and bottom pieces. Do NOT hurry the process. Take your time with each piece, use your level and your T-square to make sure everything is where you want it to be. Use your clamps as an extra pair of hands.
Step 15c - Attach your divider, mine is attached with construction adhesive only. I did not use screws on this piece.
Step 15d - Attach your front apron piece, mine is attached with construction adhesive and held in place with clamps until dry.
Once you have all the shelves attached - stand your unit up right, turn it to the back side of the cabinet.
Step 15e - You will now attach the REAR plate rack insert. My rear insert sits in from the back edge (approx. 1 - 1 1/2").
I glued this piece and also added wood screws.
Do NOT attach the FRONT plate rack insert at this point.
Let the rear sit for the glue to dry.
Step 15f - Next you will decide on your finishing method. Mine is painted a shabby off-white color. I have painted my shelving units and the rear plate rack insert BEFORE I attached the front insert.
Give it a couple of good coats of your finish making sure to sand lightly and clean with a tack cloth in between.
I've painted the BACK inside, before attaching the FRONT Dowel pieces.
Now, you can paint or finish the FRONT plate rack insert.
We're finishing up the cabinet now.
Step 15g - Next, finish (paint or stain) your FRONT plate rack insert. Let it dry good in between coats, lightly sand and clean with a tack cloth.
Step 15h - Are you going to clear coat or seal it? If so, do it now.
Step 15i - Attach your finished front plate rack insert panel.
Step 16 - Now it's time to add your wooden bead board panel to the back.
Measure width and height of the entire cabinet and cut your piece of beadboard to fit. I tacked my panel on with several small nails as well as a small amount of weldbond.
Step 17 - Finish painting the entire cabinet now, including the beadboard back panel.
*On my rear beadboard panel I had to cut out the bottom right corner of the back to allow for a light switch and plug in access. You may or may not have to do that depending upon your own drawing/design. It will be easier to cut out if you do that first before attaching the beadboard to the main cabinet.
Now, can you lift it up and put it in place?
I was lucky that my husband came home from the road just in time to see my project going on. After he stopped yacking about the project I had all over the kitchen and dining room floors, he grinned a bit and helped me lift it into place. Lucky for me because I have a very bad back. The cabinet turned out to be quite heavy for me to lift and place by myself.
Woohoo, I'm so proud of you! Look what you've built. Now, you can add decorative trims and corner pieces, wooden appliques, resin appliques, or any other decorative pieces you like. Now you can add cup hooks or shelf trims, etc. When you're done take lots of pictures, pat yourself on the back and relax with a cup of coffee.
Now, go get all of your favorite china pieces, decorative shelf sitters; teapots and such, and fill your pretty cabinet up.
This cabinet was the first one I built and was a learning experience for me. I still use it today, proudly, I might add. If, and when, I should decide to build another, I think it will be much easier the 2nd time around. I've learned a bit since then, however; I still love my cabinet!
Trims and Appliques
Fill up your plate rack with all your pretties.
eBay deals for furniture appliques - Find a Dowel Quick Tool too!
My favorite resource for furniture appliques is: Do it yourself chic on ebay. I buy all of my furniture appliques from this store.
Photos of my Plate Rack Cabinet. - Johnson Brothers Rose ChintzClick thumbnail to view full-size
Other Resources for your Plate Rack Cabinet - Plate Rack Instructions, plans and inserts.
Check out this link here, for a plate rack insert you can purchase ready made. Very affordable, you could use it as is or add it to your cabinet project.
- Plate Rack Cabinet Insert: The Inspiration | Stylish Kitchen Upgrades From DIY Kits | Photos | Easy
Perfectly sized slots for plates create an orderly presentation in your kitchen.The Kit We Picked Plate Display Rack, Omega National Products Why We Like It Easy installation. The kit shakes out of the box like pickup sticks, without directions, but
- Omega National Products
Here's a direct link to Omega's site, the resource for the plate rack kit featured in This Old House. You can purchase your plate rack in a ready made kit. Now, you can build or purchase a base cabinet ( recommend solid wood) and then just install th
- Look for Omega Products in YOUR state.
Here, you can search your state for retailers who carry or sell the plate racks from Omega.
- For the more advanced wood worker - Free plans
On this site you can find another step by step tutorial on building a plate rack of your own. It is, I think, for the more advanced wood worker. The site offers a free plans download for the project.
- Purchase a mini plate rack, ready to hang.
Mini plate racks you can purchase from StacksAndStacks.com
Please feel free to drop me a note and say hi. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my DIY Plate Rack Project.