How to Make a Cabinet Between Wall Studs


Storage is always a concern for people no matter what size house they have. The key to making a storage space effective is to be creative. Reclaim space that is lost in the walls by creating a recessed cabinet between studs. This will allow you to gain extra storage space while still keeping your floor space clear and uncluttered. Before embarking on this project, consider what you want to store in this space and if this will create enough room for you.

Things You'll Need

  • Stud finder
  • Straight edge
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Flashlight
  • 4 pieces of pine board
  • Hammer
  • Wood nails
  • Finishing nails
  • Piece of plywood or MDF (size of back of cabinet)
  • Wood trim
  • Circular or jigsaw
  • Use a stud finder to locate the studs in the area you would like to build the cabinet. Use a pencil to make a dot on the wall where the stud is, at the height you would like the bottom of the cabinet to be. Use the stud finder to find two studs; typically the distance between them is 16 inches.

  • Use a straight edge and pencil to connect the two dots.

  • Use a utility knife to cut a hole inside the area where you will put the cabinet. Use a flashlight to check for wires and diagonal bracing before you cut the wall for the shelf.

  • Use the utility knife to cut along the line, starting from the middle and working out. Take care when you are getting close to the dots, since the edge of the stud could be before the dot you made with the pencil. When you find the edge of the stud on one side, go back to the middle and cut toward the other side.

  • Use the straight edge to make a line in pencil for the outer edge of the cabinet. Mark from the end of the cut with the utility knife upward. Repeat on the other side, and connect the top two points to make a square or rectangle.

  • Use the utility knife to cut up from the bottom line and across the top. Remove the drywall.

  • Make a frame with 1- by 4-inch pieces of pine. Take one of the side pieces and the bottom piece, and make an “L” with the bottom piece. Push it flush to the bottom of the side board and the edge of the bottom board flush with the outside of the side piece.

  • Place the other side board on the other side of the bottom, and nail through the bottom board into the side piece. Place the top board on top of the two sides, and nail into place from the top board into the side pieces.

  • Measure the length and width of the frame, going from the outer edge to the outer edge. Use the straight edge and pencil to mark these measurements on the plywood, and cut the piece from the wood. Paint or stain this piece and the frame as desired before installing.

  • Place the piece of plywood, with the stained side down, over the pine board box. Attach the plywood with nails around the outside of the box. Nail through the plywood piece into the pine frame, taking care to keep the nail straight.

  • Place the cabinet, with the plywood toward the back, into the space between the studs. Nail into place with finishing nails.

  • Measure the length and width of the outside of the cabinet. Use these measurements to cut the trim pieces. Use the jigsaw to make the angle cuts, and place all four pieces on the floor to make sure they fit together correctly. Paint or stain these pieces before you install them.

  • Attach these trim pieces with finishing nails, so the inside edge of the trim is flush with the inside edge of the pine boards.

Tips & Warnings

  • To add shelves to this cabinet, simply cut more lengths of pine board.
  • If you don’t know how to cut trim at an angle to fit around the cabinet, you can purchase decorative squares for each corner. These would allow you to use flat cut pieces of trim instead of angle cut.
  • Do not select an exterior wall for this cabinet. This will severely decrease your home’s energy efficiency, because the siding would be the back of the cabinet.
  • Do not cut the wall above a light switch or floor register, because these walls may contain electric wiring or ductwork.
  • Measure the depth of the wall before you purchase the wood for the top, bottom, and sides of the cabinet. Standard size for interior walls is 4 inches. However, some walls are 6.

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  • Photo Credit wood image by Marvin Gerste from
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