How to make a custom fitted wardrobe with MDF boards

Build your dream closet easily with MDF sheets

It seems that we never have enough space to store all the clothes we buy. This is even more of a problem in the case of women, who also need to store countless handbags and accessories. It is also a common problem for families with kids who need to buy clothes on a regular basis as kids outgrow their clothes. So it may come a time when you feel that your wardrobe is simply too small and you might want a bigger and more spacious one so as to avoid these problems. Have you ever thought that you could build your own custom wardrobe? This is the best possible option as you can make it just as big as you want, and design it with as many doors and drawers as you like. Actually, building a custom wardrobe is fairly simple, and you can get it done with MDF boards, which are very affordable.

Start by measuring the space you have available. Consider how high you want to make it. Obviously the higher it is, the more storage space you have. The depth is an important consideration. Many readymade wardrobes tend to be rather lacking when it comes to the width. When you try to hang a coat or jacket, the doors may not be able to close properly, simply because of the size of these large clothes. So, keep this in mind and decide on a proper width for your new wardrobe. Having said that, make sure you take into account the other furniture in the room. You do not want to end up not being able to fully open the wardrobe’s doors because they are too wide and strike nearby furniture. Ideally doors should not be wider than 50cm.

Basic MDF Wardrobe Shell. Image credit: Lancaster Carpentry

Basic MDF Wardrobe Shell. Image credit: Lancaster Carpentry

A wardrobe is probably the biggest piece of furniture you’ll ever build. So naturally you will need to divide it up into separate sections. So, to facilitate the design and the building, make sure to consider each cabinet separately.

Once you buy all the sheets you need, it is recommended that you cut MDF with a circular saw with a very fine toothed blade. You could use a jigsaw, but it might be too rough and so the cutting process may take more time and require much more attention. Make sure to position the MDF panel very accurately and see to it that it is well supported so as to cut as accurately as possible.

Another important tip when using MDF is that if you intend to paint them, make sure to seal the board edges, as otherwise they will look rather rough. You could either cover the edges with shellac, or else keep painting and sanding for at least three or four times until you achieve a smooth finish.

MDF boards come in different sizes and thicknesses. Generally you will find that most are between 12mm and 15mm thick. Ideally purchase at least 18mm thick boards.

While cutting it will be helpful to mark each part so that you will know which part it is, and with which other parts it shall be connected. This is very helpful considering that there are going to be dozens of parts in the case of a wardrobe. Once all the panels have been cut you can start assembling each part bit by bit. Start with the top panel, and connect the two sides to it by screwing and gluing them. Then you should have cut the borders which will need to be attached to the lower part of the cabinet. This will create a lower frame upon which the base will be attached. Place the upper border onto the front and back connections and screw them securely to the base foundation. The back of the cabinet will need to be reinforced, since there is a considerable height involved for a wardrobe. So attach bordered reinforcements at the top, and in the middle, or at a third of the height.

Finished MDF Wardrobe. Image credit: VisualGram

Finished MDF Wardrobe. Image credit: VisualGram

This process will need to be repeated for each part of the wardrobe. If there are going to be shelves of drawers you will need to see to the rails that will need to be fastened in the proper part of the cabinet. Once each part has been individually completed, all that remains is attaching each part to another until the whole wardrobe has been assembled. For the doors you will need to install the hinges. Make sure they are well adjusted so as to prevent wonky looking doors. A wide opening is generally preferred and so take this into account when choosing and installing the hinges. A 120 degree opening is standard, but you can go for a wider opening, such as 170 degrees with some hinges. You may also wish to consider if you prefer them to be slow closing, or the push to open variety.