Repurposing Hollow Core Doors Into Shelves


Thanks to a recent—and seemingly unending—remodeling projects, we have a stash of hollow core doors in our garage. They are ugly, but their long flat surfaces had me itching to reuse them in SOME way. While I have a whole list of ideas, the first I tackled was a shelf: simple, but oh so useful.

My craft room/office is crammed full of stuff (no, it’s NOT JUNK!) and that means that I need lots of storage. Unfortunately, long deep shelves tend to be expensive and heavy if you build them out of wood or laminate.

All of the doors we ripped out are the standard 6’8” size; a nice long length perfect for stashing some of my photography stands and equipment out of the way. So I can stop tripping on them and knocking them over on my ankles. Ahem.

Reusing hollow core doors.

Hollow core doors have solid wood pieces around the edges, so try to plan your project to use as many of the factory edges at possible. That will not only give you straighter edges in more spots, it also means whatever you’re making will be stronger.

To keep the rest of the door from collapsing, there are thick cardboard pieces wedged in throughout the rest of the body. These are easily removed as you need, but only take out what is absolutely necessary. If you want your project to hold any weight at all, leave as many of these cardboard supports in place as you can.

spacers in hollow core doors. Reuse it Missoula

To start, I chose our narrowest door of 27” width and marked a center line along the whole length. Using a circular saw, I cut through the door lengthwise, keeping the guide on my pre-marked line to keep my edge [mostly] straight.

I planned to put my cut edge against the wall so I knew it didn’t need to be perfect, but I kept it as straight as I could so I would have a nice clean fit.

I have seen tutorials on reusing hollow cores that simply say “Find a piece of wood that fits inside the cut edges of your door.” To which I say “HA!” My door was 1 1/8” on the inside. I couldn’t find any stock lumber that size, and I didn’t want to make this a project that required a table saw to rip down a board to fit inside.

glueing trim on hollow core doors. Reuse it Missoula.

 Frankly, that is outside my comfort zone, and it’s not fair to make a “simple project tutorial” that requires a major investment of shop tools. So instead, I headed to the trim section and found trim that was exactly the right size for about $5 per 8-foot piece.

After my door was cut, I primed and painted it with stuff I already had at home (have I mentioned that I’ve done massive amounts of painting projects in the last 2 years?  Crafty Desk, My Inexpensive, DIY Kitchen Remodel). Then I picked up some shelf brackets for $3/pair at Walmart, and threw that bad boy up on the wall.

DIY Shelves made from a hollow core door.

 For a shelf this size and length, be extra careful that you are securing your brackets to a wall stud. You do NOT want a loaded 6-foot shelf coming down on your head.

Finally, because I used the back edge of the door, the hinge cutouts were visible. I wanted to find something to cover them. In the trim aisle, I had picked up an 8-foot piece the same width as the door edge for another door-based project. But I decided instead to reuse a piece of the trim we had ripped off when removing the doors and frames.

How to recycle a hollow core door into a shelf.

Don’t have a bunch of old hollow-core doors hanging around? No prob. The fine folks at Home ReSource (or your local salvage yard) have got your back. They get hundreds of these things, and would be only too happy for you take one or five home. You might even be able to score some trim to line the edge of your new shelf.

If you’re wondering what happened to the other half of the door, it’s waiting for me to figure out how to mask the hole from the door knob. And then it will join its partner on the wall. And my office floor will finally be free of tripping hazards.



Like this Reuse It post by Lisa Hensley? Reuse some of her excellent stories, like How to Turn Tin Cans into Decorative LanternsRepurposed Lighting, and How to Make a DIY Repurposed Lampshade.

   Visit Lisa Hensley’s Reuse It archive.


Lisa Hensley is a mostly-native Montanan, living in Missoula with her husband, two young boys, and various pets. She spent more than 10 years in the marketing and creative field, but is now Director of Household Operations for the Hensley group. When she’s not herding kids or doing laundry, she’s shooting photos, gardening, baking, reading, or taking classes—sometimes all at once. She also volunteers for Home ReSource, which fits in nicely with her tendency to repurpose pretty much anything.

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