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How to Cut Top Shelves for Your New Wood Closet

By: Staff Published: August 30, 2021

You’re upgrading your closet? Congratulations! But unless your wood closets are custom-made, there’s a good chance the materials will need to be modified in some way to fit your exact space. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through adjusting the top shelves that came in your SpaceCreations or SuiteSymphony kit or that you purchased individually.

With some basic tools and by following these simple steps, you can safely and easily cut your wood closet shelves down to size and complete the installation of your new closet system.

Gather your tools

The first step in cutting your wood closet top shelves is to gather your tools. You will need a tape measure, painter’s tape and a hand saw or circular saw.

Prep the space

Start by measuring. Measure the width of your space to determine the necessary length of your top shelves. Remember to account for the width of the tower. For the ClosetMaid SpaceCreations closet systems, you can cut the shelf and the trim at the same time.

Next, prepare the shelf by marking the length and placing a strip of thick tape where you will make the cut. This will help prevent chipping or cracking.

closet installation tips

Use painter’s tape to mark where you will make the cut.

Make the cut

Finally, cut the top shelves with a hand saw or a circular saw. Always use a narrow, fine-toothed blade that is suitable for cutting wood. A jig will help guide your cut.

You’ll also want to protect laminated surfaces from the cutting table or saw guard. Masking tape or paper will keep the laminate from scratching.

It’s best to cut one side first, making sure the blade height is adjusted to cut slightly over half of the board thickness. After the first pass, flip the board over, lining up the cut groove and taking a second pass to finish the cut. This will provide a much cleaner edge than simply cutting the full thickness of the board from one side only.

DIY closet system

Always wear eye protection when using power tools.

Hang the shelf

Be sure to install the unfinished edge against the wall and cut the shelf from back to front or from the unfinished edge toward the finished edge.

Find more resources

If you’re not yet ready to cut your top shelves and first need help removing your existing closet system, consult our blog post for step-by-step instructions.

For questions on all things closet design and maintenance from the optimum height for hang rods to tips on how to clean components of your closet, read our Top Installation Questions Answered blog post.

how to cut closet shelves

A SuiteSymphony closet system with top shelves is now ready for styling and filling.

Once you’ve installed your shelves, personalize your new wood closet with accessories like baskets, tie and belt organizers, and jewelry trays.

Shop wood closet systems