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Monday, February 16, 2009

How To Build Your Own Can Rotating Rack

This tutorial is created courtesy of my husband who made me this can rotating rack for a Valentine’s Day gift and agreed to document the process to share with all of you! The great thing about making your own racks is that you can customize the depths to fit your cupboard, and build however many you want for whichever cans you choose to store. Plus they are FREE! Make sure to scroll to the bottom to see a video of my new rack in action.

How To Build Your Own Can Rotating Rack

Step 1
Print out the shelf diagram (this great comes from the Pantry Panel blog). Decide which size you want to make. I opted for the soup can size to start out.

Shelf Plan

Step 2

Take a large cardboard box (either 1-ply or 2-ply) and measure out the pieces you are going to need. We decided to combine the sides and back into one long piece to make it sturdier and have less pieces to glue. We used a carpenter’s square to measure and make straight lines, but any ruler will be just fine. Here’s what our pieces measured as per the diagram:

  • Sides/back combined - 28 3/8″ long x 10 1/2″ high
  • Upper and middle shelves - 9 1/8″ x 4 1/8″ each
  • Bottom shelf 12 1/8″ x 4 1/8″
  • Top front piece 3 1/4″ x 6 1/2″
  • Bottom front piece 1 1/4″ x 6 1/2″

My husband decided to make the two front pieces a little bit taller because he wanted them to wrap underneath the shelves to make them sturdier. So our pieces actually measured 4 1/4″ x 6 1/2″ and 2 1/4″ x 6 1/2″. He also recommends adding an extra 1/8″ to each shelf width (so they’d be 4 1/2″) as ours ended up a tiny bit too tight for the can to roll smoothly.

Step 3

Cut out all of your pieces using an exacto-knife or other sharp blade. We couldn’t find our exacto-knife so that’s why we used this pocket knife. It didn’t make perfect smooth edges but it worked just fine. You could actually even use scissors if you want. If you used a long piece for the side/back pieces then you’ll need to bend the side pieces in to the right shape. We used our carpenter’s square (ruler) to help bend a straight line.

My husband wanted to note here that the bandaid on his thumb is NOT from cutting THIS project. So don’t worry!

Step 4

Take your side and back pieces (either glued together or folded in) and make sure that your can will fit inside properly. Then measure 2 3/4″ in from each edge of one side and draw a vertical line on the side pieces. This is how far in the shelves need to be glued so that the can is able to roll through them. The measurement will vary depending on which size of unit you are building.

Step 5

Glue the pieces together. Supposedly you can use Elmer’s glue but my husband was getting irritated that it was taking too long to dry. So he found a tube of caulk (yes we’re the kind of family that has caulk on hand most of the time) and that was faster but still not a great or sturdy long term solution. He highly recommends purchasing a quick-drying tacky or gel type of glue. Here is the order that we glued the pieces in:

  • Top and bottom shelves glued to one side and to the back piece
  • Middle shelf glued to that same side
  • All three shelves glued to the opposite side
  • Front pieces attached with extra tabs adhering to sides and bottom of shelves

If you didn’t cut the sides and back as one long piece you would need to glue those together first.

Step 6

Cut some little notches out of the side pieces near the bottom to enable you to pull the cans out more easily (we forgot to do that step before I took these pictures). Put your new unit in your pantry or on a shelf and load it up with cans! YAY!!!

In the instructions it says you can paint all of the cardboard pieces but we didn’t feel like taking the extra time and I don’t really care if they look ugly. Plus every time I look at my WonderMill box I can think about how much I love my wheat grinder. Hehe.



  1. This is a great tutorial! We have been meaning to do this but haven't gotten around to it yet.

    The original plan was my husband's grandfather's. He said that painting the cardboard increased the strength of the cardboard considerably. He's been using the same set of cardboard can storage bins for over 10 years. (He also used painted cardboard to make a nice looking baby gate to keep my active two year old away from their Christmas tree!)

    My husband started to make it, but he had a hard time keeping the "slide" cardboard pieces in place. He got the idea of keeping them in place with pins as the glue dried, but he hasn't tried it yet. Someone on the blog used leftover drywall tape (the mesh kind) to keep them in place.

  2. I love this, Sara, let your husbands Grampa know, the little idea he threw together for his family, will help tons of others!!
    I am going to this, and had an idea besides paint, what if you covered the boxes with colored duct tape! I love duct tape, just repaired my daughters white crib mattress with white duct tape and you can't even tell it got torn. Anyway, just a thought, you could even use white for veggies, yellow for fruits, blue for soups etc.... Wow thanks for getting my brain rolling!! Can I post a link to both of your sites on my blog??

  3. Crystal, I don't mind if you link to our post from your blog. Just make sure you link to the post from and not to this re-posted one.

    That's a great idea to use different colors of duct tape.

    Sara, I didn't realize the paint was to strengthen the cardboard. eek. I was just too lazy to paint them!