I have a strange open cabinet in my kitchen over my built-in microwave. The previous owner had cook books in it, and it looked messy. You can never have enough storage, so I thought what can I display that would look neat but be functional. Well, my enormous dinner plates wouldn't even fit in my other cabinets laying flat, so where better to put them but in here.
If you've ever seen a plate rack its bascially two sticks that help stand them up. I had eight plates, so I needed 14 pieces of dowel (7 across, 2 deep). I moved the adjustable shelf up to the point where the plate would fit standing up, then measured the height to figure out how much doweling I would need. I headed to Home Depot and bought the 3 foot pieces of 1/2" wood dowels, making sure I had enough to make enough pieces. I added 1" to the height I measured to allow for the insertion of the dowel 1/2" into the top and bottom of the opening.
I cut all of my pieces and started measuring for the drill holes. I took the shelf out and measured it from side to side (26-1/2"). Since I had seven 1/2" dowles across, I subtracted the width of all of those (3-1/2") to determine the amount of space between all of the dowels. I then divided by eight to figure out the width between each dowel (for me that number was 3-1/4"). I took that number and added 1/4" (half of the dowel width). That gave me the center point to drill for the first dowel. From that dot I measured 3-3/4" for remaining six points (3-1/4" plus the last half of the previous dowel and the first half of the next dowel). I repeated the dots for the back row. For me I put the rows 5-1/2" from the back and front (the depth is 17"). I know its seems like its getting complicated so here's a diagram.
It's really simple, that's just how my brain worked it out. You may be better at measuring the whole thing, dividing by eight then just winging it (I don't think if they were 1/4" off here or there anyone would notice). Since the shelf was the top, I repeated the marking on the bottom with the same measurements.
Before I started drilling, I placed the shelf, then used one of the cut dowels to make sure my dots where in the right place. I then used a 3/4" wide drill bit to drill about a 1/2" into the wood (you can mark that spot with tape on your drill bit if you want to). I would also recommend only drilling one hole (top and bottom to get the idea of how its going before you do the whole thing). Once you are happy with the first, finish them off. Lastly place all of the dowels.
There may be some that are tight or too tall, just have sandpaper handy to deal with any problems as they arise. I did not glue these. They fit snuggly so they don't move, and they were thin enough that they just "bent" into place (meaning I didn't have to try to lower a shelf onto 14 sticks and try to line them up.
This would also be a neat project in a cabinet with glass doors as well. Hope this helps get you motivated to try it. I love it and we use the plates everyday (as you can see since one is currently not in there : )