Make your own modular plywood storage

Images by Matt Allison

Plywood Storage as featured in VISI issue 66

Image courtesy of VISI Magazine as featured in The Office Issue #66, Photographer Micky Hoyle

‘Everything in its right place’, Radiohead couldn’t have said it better, and what better way to stay organized than with a set of modular storage boxes that grow with you!

Inspired by simple modular Noridic designs I set out to make a series of boxes that I could use as a modern shelving/storage unit.

I chose to work with readily available 18mm pine plywood, it’s easy to use, looks great and is cost-effective.

I was able to make 10 boxes out of 2 standard sheets with a few offcuts for less than the cost of one of the commercial Nordic offerings.

I chose to make up three different sizes boxes 18x30cm, 30x30xm and 30x60cm. Below I’ll show you how to assemble a box, one of the 18x18x30cm ones, but the principle is the same irrespective of the size.

So let’s get started!

Supplies needed: 1 x 336mm x 180mm piece of 18mm ply (the extra 36mm is to accommodate the 18mm thicknesses of adjoining sides), 2 x 180mm x 180mm pieces of 18mm ply, 2 x 300mm x 180mm pieces of 18mm ply, Plascon paints in Cashmere or Double Velvet, several rollers and tray, cold glue of wood adhesive, 16mm masking tape, a battery drill, 4mm drill bit, screw bit, a bag of 5mm x 75mm screws, a pencil, a tape measure, 100 grit sandpaper and a set square.

Step 1. Start by laying out your ply pieces and orientate the wood grain in the way you want it run.

Step 2. Using a tape measure and pencil measure out 20mm from the end of the two 180x180mm pieces and 9mm down from the edges, mark an X where you’ll be drilling your holes, repeat on each corner.

TIP: It’s best to drill the holes on top of an offcut so as to drill a clean hole and not slam your bit into your work surface.

Step 3. Apply a bead of cold glue to the sides you’ve just drilled as illustrated above.

Step 4. Align one of the glued pieces with one of your side pieces and use your set square to make sure you are flush and then use your drill to drill a pilot hole into the adjoining side piece.

Step 5. Using your drill screw in ONE of the 5mm x 75mm screws, making sure you countersink the screw head so that it is flush. Once you’ve done so, do the same to the screw on the opposite side. Use a wet rag to wipe off any excess glue. Proceed to the next side, repeating steps 4 and 5 until the box is assembled.

Step 6. Using a piece of 100 grit sandpaper sand down all the edges of the now assembled box.

Step 7. Using the methods above make up your other boxes and stack them in an arrangement that will best suit your needs.

Step 8. Using your masking tape, tape about 10mm around the sides of each of the backing boards, this will allow you to get a clean edge when your screw them down onto the boxes and prevent your paint from bleeding out onto the sides. Use a roller and apply at least 2 coats of paint. I chose to use the following Plascon colours Lavish Lemon (Y5 A1 1), Sparkling Lemon Lime (Y6-A1-1) and Mandarin Tusk (GR-Y04) in both Cashmere and Double Velvet ranges.

Step 9. Once your paint has dried screw the back boards down onto your boxes and arrange to taste using the guide set out in step 2. For added strength a simple set screw will pull your box collection together and added further rigidity (not shown above).

TIP: You can also use thinner plywood, or if you chose or buy ready-made ply storage boxes you can use large foldback clips to secure them in interesting shapes/designs instead of fabricating your own clamps/brackets.

11 Responses to Make your own modular plywood storage

  1. Thaya says:

    So into this right now ! Thanks, Matt!

  2. Cari says:

    I’ve wanted storage like this for my books for ages but haven’t found the right one/right price. Maybe I’ll get my dad to help me build something like this. Thanks, Matt – this is rad.

    • Matt says:

      Hay Cari, it’s exactly why I wanted to tackle this project. There aren’t a lot of options around and those that are are quite expensive, it’s where DIY saves the day.

  3. Tamara says:

    These are very cool. I’ve actually wanted some for ages. Maybe if I became a better DIY-er I could make them myself without having to rely on my man ;)hahaha. Congrats on your beautiful babykins!

  4. Alan says:

    Great, simple instructions. Enjoy the helpful and insightful tips. Now to turn inspiration into motivation into action 🙂

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