TUTORIAL: How to Build a Rotating Can Rack

Home / Site Highlights / How-To Series / TUTORIAL: How to Build a Rotating Can Rack

One of our most popular blog posts is the rotating can rack tutorial we created back in 2009. We updated the instructions after we’ve made a few more of them and included the new and improved version in our Food Storage Made Easy eBook program. However, we never got around to updating the blog post with the new info. So as a special treat for you we are giving you brand new instructions and even including the pages from our ebook so you can have a handy printable, yay! If you have made or end up making any of these shelves we’d love to see a picture of them. Feel free to share over on our Food Storage Made Easy Discussion Group on Facebook!




Step 1
Print out the shelf diagram and determine what size of shelf you want to make. Click below for printable diagram and instructions.



Step 2
Take a large cardboard box and measure out the pieces. The easiest way with the least amount of cuts and gluing is to measure for the entire length of both sides and back. For example, the vegetable can length would be a total of 31-1/8” by 10”. We recommend using a carpenter’s square to measure, mark, and cut, but any ruler will work.



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.



Step 4
Take the side and back pieces (or the one large piece) and make sure the can fits properly. If not, back to the measuring board! Mark the shelf lines on the side pieces so that you will know where the shelves need to go when you glue them on. All measurements will vary with the size of unit you’re building, so make sure to get them right!



Step 5
Glue the pieces together. Hot glue is fabulous for this step! We used a low temp craft gun and the glue started to set a little too quickly, but it was still workable. With the big piece open, glue each shelf in place. Then glue them to the back. Don’t forget to put in your wedge, and make sure a can will still pass between the wedge and shelf 2. The other side is the hardest part, because with our gun the glue started to set before it was all in place. After the other side is on, take the front pieces, with the edges bent in ¾, and glue them into place, one side at a time.



Step 6

Cut some little notches out of the side pieces near the bottom to enable you to pull the cans out more easily. At this point you can paint the whole thing with white latex paint if you want to strengthen the cardboard and have a nicer looking shelf unit.


Other Shelving Options

In case this task seems a little daunting, we do recommend a few options for rotating shelves that you can purchase. These are worth a look at if you don’t have a lot of time or you want something a little sturdier.

CanOrganizers: The cardboard rotating racks fit on any shelf in your cupboard or pantry. Three sizes available to best suit your needs. These come in large sheets and you fold them into shape and use tabs to hold them together.
Cansolidators: Sturdy plastic can racks from Thrive Life that can be adjustable for any width of small to medium sized can. Available in three sizes and fit on a regular shelf or in a pantry. These are a little sturdier than the cardboard options.
Deluxe Food Rotation Systems: Thrive Life (formerly Shelf Reliance) produces high quality shelves are customizable in any shape and size to fit everything from tuna cans to #10 cans and more!


Here’s a pinnable image if you want to save for later!



  • enough_is_enuff

    Since these racks are not see-through, use some chalk board paint on the front faces to label what the canned good is inside and the inventory count to keep track of restocking.

  • Jim Carroll

    Oh, and if you’re looking for cardboard to use, go to your local big-box store (Target or K-Mart) the VERY first thing in the morning. Chances are the shelvers will still be putting the final items on the shelves, and there should be large “cardboard cages” to hold the broken-down boxes. Ask, and there should be no problem getting the cardboard you need.

  • Jim Carroll

    I built a number of these when the plans first came out 6 years ago. They’re still working fine! Here’s something that might make things easier, esp. if you or a friend have a cat. There is a kitty litter product called “Swheat Scoop”. It is a scoopable, flushable litter that is made from non-food-grade wheat. At Target, you can buy it in 14lb boxes. These boxes are just the right size for vegetable or fruit cans. After cutting off the tops and the front opening (“D” in the diagram) there’s enough space to easily reach in and glue the ramps; and since you’re not gluing “upper front” and “lower front” flaps on, the entire structure is sturdier. I still painted the boxes to keep a consistent appearance.

  • Peggy

    how many veg cans will this finished piece hold?

  • Peggy

    how about packing tape? would that work instead of gluing?

    • I don’t know if it would hold up the shelves firmly enough with heavy cans rolling down it.

      • Nancy Beck

        Packing tape didn’t work that good…but… Gorilla tape worked great (for that unseen pantry)

FREE checklists to make your life easier

Start today and get our 4 favorite downloads to help you build and use your food storage!