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How to Build a Wardrobe Out of Plywood (7 Steps)

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  • This article was written by Joshua Lewis – an academic writer and keen DIY enthusiast – to ensure maximum factual accuracy and unique content.

Building your own wardrobe out of plywood is a great way to save money when furnishing your bedroom and is a good starter project for DIY enthusiasts.

So how do you build a wardrobe out of plywood?

To build a wardrobe out of plywood: start by building the frame; then build and secure the back panel; create the dividers for the drawers; build and fit the drawers; build and fit the hanging rail; and finish by adding the wardrobe doors.

The rest of this article expands on these points to give you an actionable guide so that you can build your own bedroom wardrobe out of plywood from scratch in 7 steps.

This project is for beginners and should take no more than 2 days.

The estimated cost of the materials to build this wardrobe is between $100 and $120.

Fancy another project? Click here to learn how to build your own space-saving loft bed.  

How to Build a Wardrobe From Plywood in 7 Steps

Follow the 7 steps below to build your wardrobe out of plywood:

1: Prepare the Materials With the Correct Tools

Before building your wardrobe, you should gather together the following equipment and tools so that you can prepare the materials as follows:

1.1: Equipment

  • Wood glue and wood filler.
  • Pocket jig.
  • Woodscrews: boxes of 1” and 1½“.
  • 4 metal hinges.
  • Jigsaw.
  • Orbital and detail sander (160-220 grit sandpaper).
  • Drill (With a countersink bit).
  • Large clamps (2-4).
  • One dark and one light stain of your choice (we suggest walnut and pine).
  • (Optional) wardrobe hardware such as metal handles, knobs, and a rail.

1.2: Materials

The sizes and measurements below are what you will need to cut from your plywood sheets.

The thickness of the plywood sheets required are ½”, ¾“and 1”.

  • Two pieces of 1” measuring 85”x 18” (frame side panels).
  • Two pieces of 1” measuring 18”x 40” (frame top and bottom panels).
  • One piece of ½” measuring 85”x 40” (frame back panel).
  • Two pieces of 1” measuring 18”x 38” (dividers).
  • Two pieces of ¾” measuring 18”x 37” (drawer bottom panels).  
  • Four pieces of ¾” measuring 18”x 8” (drawer side panels). 
  • Two pieces of ¾” measuring 37”x 8” (drawer back panel). 
  • Two pieces of ¾” measuring 38”x 8” (drawer front panel). 
  • One piece of ¾”x ¾” measuring 38” in length (clothing rail).
  • Two pieces of ¾” that measure 2.75” in length and height, but with a ¾”x ¾” cut in the center top half (clothing rail support).  
  • Two pieces of ¾”x ¾” measuring 20” in length (drawer handles).
  • Two pieces of ¾” measuring 2”x 2” (wardrobe door handles).
  • Two pieces of ½” measuring 19”x 67” (wardrobe doors).  
  • (Optional) metal hardware.

2: Build the Wardrobe Frame

Wardrobe Frame
Wardrobe Frame

To get started, you need to build yourself a wardrobe frame high enough and wide enough to be suitable for use.

Our measurements provide a standard-sized wardrobe frame.

To build the frame:

  • Cut two pieces of 1” measuring 85”x 18” and check they are the same size.
  • Cut two pieces of 1” measuring 18”x 40” and check they are the same size.
  • Sand both pieces (200+ grit) with a detail sander.
  • Apply light stain with a cloth and the lighter stain of your choice.
  • Make a rectangular shape with the four pieces as shown above and temporarily secure them with four large clamps on each corner.
  • Hold the pieces together with wood glue before making pilot holes on the top and bottom panels.
  • Secure with 1½” woodscrews.

More details below:

2.1: Cut the Boards

Use a jigsaw to cut out two pieces of 1” plywood board that measure 85”x 18”, ensuring you cut in a straight line (use a jigsaw guide if available).

Place both pieces on top of each other and if they are not the exact same size, use pencil marks and your orbital sander to make them match.

Repeat this but cut two more boards measuring 18”x 40”.

These are your four frame components and should be positioned in a rectangular structure.

2.2: Secure the Frame

Using your detail sander, sand down these four pieces with 200+ sandpaper and when smooth, stain with the light stain using a cloth.

Use four large clamps on each corner to hold these four pieces together and apply wood glue to temporarily secure.

Ensure the corners are exactly 90 degrees and that the side pieces are on the inside, not the outside, of the structure.

Make multiple pilot holes on the top and the bottom panels (4 on each short side) going into the side panels.

Secure the structure with 1½” woodscrews using the drill/driver.

3: Build the Wardrobe Back Panel

Wardrobe Back Panel
Wardrobe Back Panel

Next up, you need to build yourself a wardrobe back panel that completes the wardrobe frame.

This will be made from ½” plywood as there is no need for thicker/heavier wood for a back panel, as it’s not important for structural integrity.

This is simple but needs to be done right.

To build the back panel: 

  • Cut one piece of ½” plywood board measuring 85”x 40”. 
  • Sand the piece with 200+ grit sandpaper using a detail sander.
  • Apply light stain with a cloth and the lighter stain of your choice.
  • Place the back panel onto the frame, ensuring it lines up, and use wood glue and clamps to temporarily hold it together.
  • Make several pilot holes along the edges of the back panel going into the frame.
  • Secure with 1” woodscrews to the frame.
  • Sand the sides once more to ensure the frame and back panel edges line up smoothly.

More details below:

3.1: Prepare the Back Panel

Use a jigsaw to cut out your back panel to measure 85”x 40”, making sure that you use a guide or ruler to saw in a straight line.

Sand the surfaces of this piece with 200+ sandpaper using your detail sander, using light pencil marks as a guide for even sanding.

Take your cloth and lighter stain of choice and apply a single layer of light stain.

3.2: Secure the Back Panel

Once dry, place the back panel onto the frame and check it lines up accurately, and if it does not, sand down the sides until it does.

Once aligned, remove the back panel, and apply wood glue to the frame edges before placing it back, securing it into position using clamps.

Allow 10-15 minutes for the wood glue to set and drill several pilot holes (6-7) along each edge of the back panel going into the frame.

Use your countersink bit afterwards to make a small indent in each pilot hole for the screw to sit smoothly.

Once drilled, secure the back panel to the frame with 1” woodscrews using a drill/driver.

To finish, take your detail sander and lightly sand the edges of your new structure with 200+ grit sandpaper to ensure the back panel and mainframe smoothly align with each other.

4: Build the Wardrobe Dividers

Wardrobe Dividers
Wardrobe Dividers

Now you have your wardrobe frame, you need to build two dividers and add them to the inside of the frame so that you can put your drawers in.

These are only two pieces of the same size, but it’s important you attach them to the frame accurately.

To build these dividers: 

  • Cut two pieces of 1” plywood board measuring 18”x 38”.
  • Ensure both pieces are exactly the same size.
  • Sand the pieces with 200+ grit sandpaper using a detail sander.
  • Apply the lighter stain of your choice with a cloth.
  • Flip the main frame on its side and attach the first divider 8” from the bottom, using a spirit level to ensure it is straight.
  • Repeat this with the second divider but 8” from the first divider.
  • Use wood glue and clamps to hold these dividers in place.
  • Make several pilot holes (4-6) on the outside of the frame going into the dividers.
  • Secure with 1½” woodscrews to the frame.

More details below:

4.1: Prepare the Dividers

Use a jigsaw to cut out your two divider panels so that they measure to measure 18”x 38”.

Place them on top of each other to ensure equal size and sand the edges down if not.

Sand the surfaces of this piece with 200+ sandpaper using your detail sander, using light pencil marks as a guide for even sanding.

Take your cloth and darker stain of choice and apply a single layer of dark stain, as this adds an effective contrasting color scheme to your plywood wardrobe.

4.2: Attach the Dividers to the Frame

Flip the main frame onto its side so that it rests on the back panel side.

Using a tape measure, measure 8” from the bottom of the long side of the frame and mark the sides with a pencil.

Use wood glue to hold the first divider in place at this point, using your tape measure as a guide to make sure it is exactly 8” from the bottom.

Once exact, hold together with clamps and repeat this with the second divider, but by making sure it is 8” from the first divider.

Allow 10-15 minutes for the wood glue to set and drill several pilot holes (4-6) along each edge of the frame sides going into the dividers.

Use your countersink bit afterwards in each pilot hole to make a small indent for the screw to sit smoothly and secure with 1½” woodscrews using the drill/driver.

5: Build the Wardrobe Drawers

Wardrobe Drawers
Wardrobe Drawers

Now you have your frame with the dividers in place, it’s time to build some simple drawers to fit in the spaces.

These are effectively basic boxes, but they must be a certain size so that you can easily pull them in/out of the wardrobe.

Due to their depth, they do not strictly need a mechanism/design to make them easily slide in and out.

To build your simple drawers:

  • Cut two pieces of ¾” plywood measuring 18”x 37” (bottom panel).
  • Cut four pieces of ¾” plywood measuring 18”x 7” (sides).
  • Cut two pieces of ¾” plywood measuring 37”x 7” (back panel).
  • Cut two pieces of ¾” plywood measuring 40”x 7” (front panel).
  • Sand all these pieces with 200+ grit sandpaper.
  • Apply dark stain with a cloth and the darker stain of your choice.
  • Use wood glue and clamps to hold these pieces in a box shape as seen below.
  • Make pilot holes in the base and secure with 1” woodscrews.
  • Cut two final pieces of ¾”x ¾” measuring 20” in length (handles).
  • Stain the piece with your light stain and glue to drawer front panel.

More details below:

5.1: Cut the Drawer Pieces

Use a jigsaw to cut out the following pieces of ¾” plywood for the two drawers:

Two 18”x 37” bottom panel pieces, four 18”x 7” side pieces, two 37”x 7” back pieces, and two 40”x 7” front pieces.

Sand all these pieces with 200+ grit sandpaper and stain with the dark stain of your choice.

Finally, cut two handle pieces of ¾”x ¾” measuring 20” in length, sand lightly with 220+ sandpaper and stain with your lighter stain.  

These pieces will make a drawer that is just slightly smaller than the internal space between dividers so it will easily slide in and out without being too loose.

5.2: Make the Drawers

Firstly, use clamps and evenly spread wood glue to hold the pieces together in a rectangular shape – all of which rest on top of the bottom panel.

Once left to dry, flip and make pilot holes (all of which are countersunk) along the edges of the bottom panel and secure the pieces with 1” woodscrews.

Use wood glue to secure the handle on to the front panel, ensuring it is kept central.

Give the drawer a final sand, repeat with the other pieces to make the other drawer, and insert between the dividers.

6: Build the Hanging Rail

Wardrobe Hanging Rail
Wardrobe Hanging Rail

Before adding the doors to complete the build, you need to build a hanging rail (and its supports) so that you can actually use the wardrobe.

Metal hardware can be used for this and you may find it easier, but if you wish to make a wardrobe that is 100% wood, then follow these steps to build a wooden hanging rail: 

  • Cut one piece of ¾”x ¾” measuring 38” in length to act as the clothing rail.
  • Lightly sand along the edges of this piece to make a slight curved shape.
  • Cut two pieces of ¾” that measure 2.75” in length and height.
  • Cut a ¾”x ¾” section out of these pieces as shown below that is 1” from the edges and sand down by hand.
  • Stain all three pieces with your light stain.
  • Attach these two pieces onto the inside of the wardrobe side panels so they are central and opposite to each other.
  • Rest the clothing rail ends in between these gaps and secure with glue and 1” woodscrews.

More details below:

6.1: The Side Rail Supports

Use a jigsaw to cut out two small pieces of ¾” plywood that measure 2.75” in both length and width.

Use a pencil to divide the pieces into 2, and in one half, mark two points that are 1” in from the edges.

In between this gap, cut out a section that is ¾”x ¾”, ensuring it is kept central.

Use 200+ sandpaper and sand down these pieces by hand, making sure you sand inside the ¾”x ¾” gaps.

Make pilot holes along the edges of these pieces and secure them into the inside of the wardrobe side panels, keeping them central and ensuring they are 10-12” from the top of the wardrobe.

6.2: The Side Rail

Use a jigsaw to cut one piece of ¾”x ¾” that measures 38” in length.

Sand down the ends of this piece, and then by using an orbital sander, sand along the edges of this piece to make them rounded.

This transforms a piece of plywood into a rounded, long rail that is compatible with coat hangers.

Place this rail into the wardrobe by resting the ends onto the newly attached supports (in between the gaps).

Use wood glue and a single woodscrew (drilled from the outside) to secure this piece to the wardrobe.

Since there will be small gaps in the ¾”x ¾” support rail space, use wood filler to prevent this.

7: Build the Wardrobe Doors

Wardrobe Doors
Wardrobe Doors

You now have a fully functioning wardrobe, but you need to add some doors to complete it.

This consists of two pieces with two smaller pieces to act as knobs, which are suspended on the wardrobe via hinges.

Hinges are the only non-wood aspect of this wardrobe but are necessary for use.

To build the wardrobe doors:

  • Cut two pieces of ¾” measuring 2”x 2” to act as doorknobs.
  • Cut two pieces of ½” measuring 19”x 67” to act as your doors. 
  • Sand both pieces down with 200+ grit sandpaper using a detail sander.
  • Stain the doors with light stain and the knobs with dark stain.
  • Attach the two knobs to the two larger pieces in whatever position you wish to have them.
  • Secure hinges to the top and bottom of each door on one side.
  • Secure the attached hinges onto the inside of the wardrobe side panels.

More details below:

7.1: Prepare the Door Pieces

Use a jigsaw to cut out two small pieces of ¾” plywood that measure 2”x 2” and sand down with 200+ grit sandpaper, making them rounded if you wish, as these are your doorknobs.

Cut two larger pieces that measure 19”x 67” to act as your doors and sand down with 200+ grit sandpaper.

Stain the doors with your light stain and the doorknobs with the darker stain.

7.2: Secure the Doors to the Wardrobe

Using wood glue, secure the doorknobs onto the doors in whatever positions you wish to have them.

Some 1” woodscrews would be useful in the back of this for strength, but it is not vital.

On the opposite side of each door, on the other side to the knobs, fix two metal hinges to the top and bottom of each piece (4 in total).

Flip the wardrobe on its side and rest the doors in their positions, ensuring they align with the rest of the wardrobe frame.

Make pencil marks on the inside of the wardrobe where the remaining screws need to go and drill the appropriate holes.

Secure the hinges onto the wardrobe at these points and make sure all screws are tight to ensure the door will open and close properly.

Finally, finish off your wardrobe by filling any gaps/screw heads with wood filler and sand down lightly.

Apply a final stain layer appropriately to the wardrobe to remove any sanded spots.


Safety Disclaimer

This article is for information purposes – only tackle DIY projects that you feel competent enough to handle. Enlist the help of a professional if possible to improve safety. Always take care when using power tools and other equipment.

Image Attribution and Licencing

Main image: ‘Modern Luxury Dressing Room Interior’ by LEK_3DPHOTO (Getty Images Pro) – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

All other images custom made and used with permission.

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