One of the items that I have deemed a necessity on this trip is a way to organize our camp kitchen. Or at least it was until I saw the price tag on these things.
Yikes! There are less expensive options out there, but they sit on the ground. Since we are taking dogs, I’d prefer to have my kitchen items hanging.
I already know my campsite will be covered because I own one of these from my tailgating exploits. So all I really need is a hanging shelf that doesn’t cost $60. In one of my favorite DIY moments, I decided to go foraging for parts. I went to Lowe’s, but any hardware store will have comparable products.
First, we need the main structure of the cupboard. I found this six-shelf collapsible closet organizer. Unlike other organizers, it had steel hooks at the top, rather than a fabric sleeve to slide over a pole. This is preferable, because it will make campsite installation a snap. This particular model had clear vinyl sides (which will come in handy later) and canvas shelves (which needed tweaking).
Next, I decided I wanted to make sure the contents of at least a couple of my shelves didn’t tumble out the first time a stiff breeze swings the entire contraption. I picked up a couple of collapsible canvas drawers. Notice they are the same width and depth as the shelves (11.5″ x 11.5″), so I know they will fit snugly. If you want to purchase a drawer for each shelf, you can do that too. I was feeling cheap, so I only bought 2.
If you want to stop there, then you’d have a usable shelving unit for less than $20. But where is the fun in that? What about a paper towel holder, you ask? Yeah, what about that? Here’s what you need. First, go to the organization section and find a folding towel rack that will screw into a shelf. These racks come with pre-drilled holes to
guide your screws. Pay attention to this distance. If it is greater than the width of your hanging shelf, then it won’t work. This is the cheapest one I could find, and it also had fastening holes that were within my acceptable limits.
Now we need a way to fasten it to the bottom of the shelf. I went to the hardware section and found that 4mm x 0.7 machine screws fit into the towel hanger holes perfectly. I bought the 25 mm length screws, along with nuts and washers to fit. Then I used a pocket knife to punch 2 holes through the bottom canvas shelf that aligned with the holes in the towel rack.
So you have shelves and drawers and a towel rack, but why stop there? Why not find a place to store your knives as well? Here is what you need:
Velcro tape. Oh, and I guess you need some knives. I didn’t want to take my kitchen knives camping, but I also don’t want to spend a ton on new cutlery that is going to be exposed to the elements. So I found these:
Simply attach the Velcro to the knife sheath and the vinyl sides of the shelf. See? I told you the clear vinyl would come in handy. The Velcro tape sticks to it so much better than canvas.
Next, I decided I needed a place to store my oils. I bought this and attached it to the shelf just like I did with the knives.
Again, feel free to stop at any step if it doesn’t suit your needs. If you’ve done everything I did, the total cost to you would be around $40, and that includes purchasing new knives!
But I am not done yet. Since this shelving unit is for a camping kitchen, there is a good chance I will have stuff stored in there that’ll attract bugs. So I bought some cheap mesh, more Velcro, and electrical tape. All of this cost me another $10.
I cut the mesh to size and then sealed the edges with the electric tape. I made sure that more of the tape’s surface area was on the inside of the mesh than the exterior so that the Velcro tape would have better contact. I then attached the Velcro’d mesh to the shelving unit.
One final note. The shelving unit I bought had soft canvas shelves. Remember how I said I needed to tweak that? Well, I cut cardboard squares (11.5″ x 11.5″) to line them. The cardboard prevents the shelves from sagging and will support more weight. Since I had previously bought two drawers with their own cardboard liners, I only needed to cut 4 squares.
The total cost was about $50, but since the knives cost $15, I think I can say that I built a camping cupboard for about $35-$40.
Here are pictures of the final product.
The cupboard above clearly won’t support the weight of say, a cast iron skillet or dutch oven. So instead, I bought these:
Hang one end from your canopy frame and hook the other around the cookware handle.