Making White MDF Larder Shelves for a Cupboard

In this project I’m making some simple white MDF larder shelves for a customer. I built this as a single unit in the workshop and then installed it on-site for the customer.

Watch the full video here:

Making Bespoke White MDF Larder Shelves / Kitchen Shelving

Making MDF Larder Shelves

One of my customers ask me to make some strong shelves for in their kitchen cupboard to store quite heavy items such as tins of food, jars of jam and the like. It needed to be quite a specific size to fit in to the left hand side of their cupboard. It needed to be raised off the ground and it needed a rounded front corner to avoid hitting them when putting tall stuff to the sides of the shelves.

I started off by cutting all of the MDF sheeting down to the required sizes using my workhorse DeWalt DW745 job site table saw. I used 18mm MDF for this project. I predominantly used biscuit jointing for this project using my DeWalt DW682K biscuit joiner.

For the curved shelves I used a round thing (jam jar) as a guide to cut one of the curved corners. I then used this as a template for the curves on the rest of the shelves and cut them out using my Makita 4350CT jigsaw. I used my sanding station to smooth the edges after the jigsaw cut.

Once all of the wood was cut to size I did a dry test fit of the main unit to work out the shelf spacing. I then made the final biscuit cuts in the shelves prior to final assembly. The unit was largely glued together using brad nails to hold the pieces in position while the glue dried. Since I was using biscuit joints I could slide the shelves in to position after the main carcass was built – this would not be possible with other jointing methods such as dominos.

Finishing & painting the MDF unit

I gave everything a quick sand down using my air sander mainly to remove any sharp edges. A final blow down and wipe with a cloth left it read for paint. I used a 50/50 water / PVA mix to seal the edges of the MDF however please note that I don’t use this method any more as it’s additional work for no benefit. See my other videos about how to paint MDF.

I primed and undercoated the MDF using Leyland Acrylic Primer Undercoat – this is a water based primer, dries very quickly and gives a fantastic finish. I then used Dulux Bathroom+ paint as the final finish. Washable bathroom or kitchen paint is extremely hard wearing since it’s designed to be regularly wiped with a cloth. Unlike melamine it’s also very easy to touch-up if there are ever any chips in the paintwork. Two top coats were applied – it can also be painted any colour at a later date if needs be. A very versatile paint worth considering for your projects!

The unit was firmly screwed to the wall and screw caps used to cover the screw holes. I also added some additional small support brackets underneath the unit – probably overkill but they can’t be seen and gives a bit extra peace of mind. This is a heavy, sturdy unit and will last for many years!

Andy Mac
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