Food Storage Shelf

Build a produce food storage drying rack! Free plans from


Projects built from this plan. Thank you for submitting brag posts, it's appreciated by all!

Author Notes: 

Hi everyone and Happy Monday!!!

A few weeks back, on our Facebook Page, you asked for a food storage shelf.

Now I get it.  When harvest time comes, you need somewhere to dry all of your produce and store it for the winter.  If taken care of properly, you could be enjoying garden fresh carrots and potatoes all winter long!

But I really like to try to have each plan built before it gets posted - just in case it's got a flaw or it could be made better.

Serena, one of our lovely readers, was so kind to volunteer to build this food storage shelf for us!

And I am so glad she did!

Because Serena noted that the top shelf was a little tight on space.

So we made the plan a little better for you and suggest putting the top brace on top - not in front.  I think the cat approves!

Thank you so much Serena for making this plan possible!  

Shopping List: 

4 – 2x2 @ 8 feet long
14 – 1x3 @ 8 feet long
7 – 1x2 @ 8 feet long
1 ¼” and 2” finish nails
2” screws
Recommend also 2 ½” PH screws

General Instructions: 

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!

Cut List: 

4 – 2x2 @ 41 ½” (legs)
16 – 1x3 @ 23 ½” (side drawer glides)
2 – 2x2 @ 41” (LP to SP, both ends cut at 60 degrees off square, ends parallel)
4 – 2x2 @ 20 ½” (longest points, one end cut at 60 degrees off square, other at 30 degrees off square, ends are cut in same direction but not parallel)
4 – 1x3 @ 25 ¼” (front/back supports)

14 – 1x2 @ 23 ½”
14 – 1x2 @ 20 ½”
49 – 1x3 @ 23 ½”

Step 1: 

It is very important to make sure that the ends are built identical and square. The side rails will actually serve as drawer guides, so you will want to make sure the guides are attached square too. I recommend first taking all of your 2x2 legs and marking all of them at the same time with the side rail locations. Then you can attach. You can attach the siderails with 2” finish nails and glue.

Step 2 Instructions: 

Now the X braces will keep everything square. Some miter saws will cut a 60 degree angle, but if yours does not, you will need to mark the angle with a square or protractor and cut with a circular saw. Remember that the angle is 60 degrees OFF SQUARE, so this would mean 30 degrees from the edge of the board.

Attach the cross braces to all siderails and legs.

Step 3 Instructions: 

Once both legs are done, all you have to do is add the front/back supports.

Step 4 Instructions: 

And then build trays. Trays must be built square to slide right.

Step 5 Instructions: 

And then slide the drawers in!

Step 6 Instructions: 

Serena felt like the original instructions made the top shelf too tight for accessing produce, so we modified to place the front support on top. She blocked the front just for decorative purposes. This makes the top shelf much larger.

Preparation Instructions: 
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth. It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Project Type: 
Skill Level: 


Sooooo building this, especially for things like onions that need to be kept dry to store well :D

Great idea. Questions: Is this for indoor storage? How do you keep the critters out? I'm new to drying food so not sure if this is something I could use but sure seems like a good idea.

I made a rack similar to this, and I covered top, bottom, back and sides (all except the front of course) with window screening to keep the bugs out. The front has a screen "door" with self-closing hinges that opens to slide the racks out . Works like a charm, and easy to clean.

Very nice design, Ana. I think I'll have to add this to my summer Project "Honey Do List". I've been trying to decide how I was going to store my root veggies this year, to avoid rot & waist. I think I just found how. Thank's !! :)

I am so in love with this project, that I want to marry it! So great!!!

Looking fwd. of building this one with my Hubby, and what a great Idea to keep our Pantry organized. Onions and Potatoes being stored neatly.
Thanks for sharing this on Facebook.

I really like this idea for a pantry, and would just love to have something that would make all the different fruits and veggies look so darned pretty. What a great job!
I have a thought and a question. First, I have onion skins all over my pantry where I store my onions (Maybe I'm just messy!). I might think about adding a solid-bottomed drawer at the very bottom, to catch all the stuff that will fall through the cracks in the upper drawers. That could easily be pulled out and emptied and would save me from having to move the whole thing to clean under it.
And, as I'm probably older than most of you, my info about storing different fruits and veggies might no longer be relevant, but I grew up thinking that you shouldn't store potatoes and onions near each other, and that apples kept with other fruits and veggies would speed up their ripening process. Any thoughts about that? Maybe since this is open storage that wouldn't be a problem (if it ever really was :-) )

You are right - onions and potatos don't do well stored together. I'm wondering if apples are also a poor match to either the onions or the potatoes.... guess I'll have to go hit up google for more info!

I read somewhere that you should store apples and potatoes together--the apples help keep the potatoes from sprouting. Other than that, I don't know.

Okay... First, I love this rack and I think it's a great idea for prepping the bounties, organizing them for storage over a long winter no matter what climate, and I have a few comments below that could be considered in addition to this beautiful rack.

Definitely no onions should be stored with potatoes, either dried or refridgerated. Cut onions should not be stored with any fruits or veggies or with other refridgerated items unless secured in a zip-tight bag, not tupperware, unless using within 24 hrs.

Onions have a some very beneficial uses, cut and set around in corners of a house during times when the flu or bacterial infections are at their peak season. Onions are absorptive and work kind of like a sponge in absorbing the bacteria, which is true in the fridge too if left unsealed.

Basically while the cut onions have absorbed the "not-such, good stuff", they can make a person sick, and/or also spoil other fruits or veggies stored near them by infecting them too.

My personal suggestion for winter storage of onions is to use a food processor for prep and freeze in sealed packages for later use.
Also, un-cut onions should be stored in a dark, cool environment in a paper bag to allow air-flow, remain dry and never store anywhere near apples, potatoes or squash. Other veggies like carrots, turnips, parsnips etc. would be better stored over the winter using a food dehydrator and stored in glass containers. Not to difficult to rehydrate specific amounts as needed for cooking or making protien shakes or smoothies.

Just my two or twenty cents :-) and what has worked for me for years.
God Bless.

Spread the word, this is false, eat your onions and stop wasting them on night stands!!

This onion legend dates at least as far back as the 1500s, when it was believed that distributing raw onions around a residence protected inhabitants from the bubonic plague. This was long before germs were discovered, and the prevalent theory held that contagious diseases were spread by miasma, or "noxious air." The (false) assumption was that onions, whose absorbent qualities had been well known since ancient times, cleansed the air by trapping harmful odors.

That's a fantastic idea, especially as it means fruit/veg can be spaced out so if one apple/tomato etc goes bad, it won't effect the others.

I c that some of the trays aren't filled all the way to the back…can you fill it to the back? Or will it not open that far and if u can os this hard to clean?

Hi, the trays pull out completely from either side, so they are very easy to clean. I only filled them a little to take the pictures. Now that the shelf is in its permanent home, AKA my garage, it is much fuller.

about storing....apples are actually great to store with potatoes...i read an experiment where the results were potatoes with much less sprouting, shriveling,etc..

Anybody try sticking canned food in this rack to see if it will clear the drawer above? Measurements look like it will work.


I think it's a very good thing but perhaps you should make that the apple (espacially) didn't touch each other as if one went bad all others in contact will go bad also.

So you should add some delimitation between each piece.

Sorry if there are English errors.

I think I will add wheels on the legs so I can roll it away to clean up any dirt that may drop. Love this idea and will be making it soon. Thanks

Apples are actually best kept near potatoes. The same gas that they emit that speeds up ripening of other fruits actually slows the ripening of potatoes. :) Pretty cool, huh?

This food storage shelf looks really practical and it seems perfect to be kept in your yard.I was looking for a shelf like that since the guys from SLC junk removal helped me to clean my backyard and garage and i need some safe storage for my winter vegetables.I think that this is the perfect project to give my husband to build.

I took the picture in my yard...I would not recommend keeping it there. I gave the shelf to my friend as a housewarming gift and she keeps it in the basement.
Happy building!

I LOVE this! Like one reader suggested, a screen on all the sides could be a good addition...As I was looking at it, I thought about putting a bunch of slats on the top as extra surface area--to hold a basket or something.

Really nice project! Similar to what I was considering for storing other types of things, like art supplies in a tower, with slightly wider spacing between the shelves.

One suggestion would be to cut pieces of plastic screening, or the plastic craft mesh sheets into each "drawer" to make cleaning easy - if ever something does get a chance to spoil it is much easier to lift out the screen to wash it without getting the nice wood wet. I do this in my home-made solar dryer.

I make cider each year and I've been thinking about making one of these! The plans are superb, waxing the shelves to make them slide is something that I had not considered! We normally have a day picking apples then forget all the other things we need like muslin and spacers for the press so by the time we actually get around to doing our first press we've often lost a bunch of apples due to mold! Probably too late to make one for this season but it is now firmly on the to do list :) will probably pop it down in my cellar as it's always arctic which should help preserve the apples!

i did everything in the instructions except the phillips head screws i used torx head screws easier to use phillips head likes to strip and i made the top hinged so it can be used as a cleaning table

A month ago i started my fruit store and for that i visited to the furniture store for fruit storage rack and they made really good rack which is huge and make a different different compartment for different food. But i like your way to make the rack also looks good and money saver.

I would put 'X' braces on the top and bottom, also on the back. This would make sure the shelves stayed in when working them in and out. Nice job and this one is going in my things of what to do until I can plant in the hoophouse! be well;peace...dan

Can't wait to build this, and being able to remove a shelf for larger winter squash, jicama, etc. is terrific. And yes, keep your onions by themselves, they don't play well with others, just remember they make friends cry :-). Off subject, did you know if you separate your bananas, the whole bunch doesn't ripen together. If you like them green like I do, once they start to yellow, peel & freeze. That way you have bananas for bread or a smoothie anytime & no more waste!!!

It works really well, though I made a few modifications:

- The shopping list indicates that you need 14 1x3 boards, but the project actually requires 18
- The frame is too wide as listed. I reduced the four 1x3x25 1/4 boards to just 1x3x25. Otherwise the drawers slopped around way too much and even came off the rails. It's possible that the 2x2 boards are 1/8 inch smaller than when these plans were made.
- I left off the secondary diagonal supports (the shorter ones that intersect the main one). This seemed superfluous when I got it together, plus I cut them too short (measured the wrong distance). The top and bottom drawers twist a lot in their rails, so I will probably attach these pieces vertically to act as drawer guides.
- I attached a 1x3 diagonally across the back between the top and bottom back supports. This solved two problems:
-- There was quite a lot of side to side twist with the original design
-- There was nothing to stop the drawers from going right out the back of the unit. This was mentioned as a feature in an earlier comment, but I didn't think it was a useful one in my situation

Photos and write-up on my blog:

I'm totally lost with this post. Looks like a great storage unit, but how is this a food dryer? I've build food dryers before and they generally involve heat and fans. I'm not trying to be difficult here, but would really like to understand. Please help! Also, the post talks about drying food, but then goes on to talk about fresh produce all winter. Which is it? Does something like this keep produce fresh for longer without refrigeration? How?

I'm confused, but willing to listen. Please supply any info you can, I'd love to build one, but I'm just not sure what it does.

I also am a beginner in food storage, especially the drying method. I love this box, but am totally clueless on how it's used. Could there be a section on your blog dedicated on the ways to store in this box. Also to keep critters like basement mice out. And what about gnats or fruit flies. How are the fruit and veggies stored and how long. How do you use these dried items if dried whole. How long can they be kept and how to prevent molding, spoiled spots etc.
I have a small veggie bin and do not use it anymore as everything I put in it...onions, potatoes etc. fairly soon go to rot. I know the small screen is not enough now as yours is completely air flow friendly. But, I still do not see how to prevent rotting,spoiling, bugs nor how and what to do with the produce. Thank you for any information!! I am anxious to learn.

Hi, I made this today and was short 1 X 3's so couldn't make all of the drawers. The shopping list calls for 14 1 x 3's but really you need 18 1 x 3's. Did Serena have to make any adjustments?

I'm using this for curing my homemade soap!