School Bag/ Mudroom Organising System

I recently made a school bag organiser (I’ve wanted one for ages!) and posted these pictures to a couple of closed Facebook groups. The response was amazing and a lot of people asked for the details of how to make their own, so I thought I’d write it down and share it.

Even though I’m posting it on my Fundraising website, clearly it is unrelated – it’s simply an easy place for me to create a post to share. If you stretch your imagination, you could say that it would make an amazing raffle or silent auction prize? Oh well, it really is just a community service share for anybody interested. As with the work we do in the school and club fundraising space in Australia, happy to save you from having to reinvent the wheel!!!

The dimensions of this organiser are: 80cm wide, 108cm high, 28cm deep. A single unit would be the same specs except 40cm wide, a triple unit would be 120cm wide etc etc.

This particular unit cost me $149 in components. (Plus there is a possibility that I also indulged in a Skadis pegboard from Ikea 😯 )

Shopping List (prices current as at September 2019):



  • Wood Dowel – 19mm width – from the timber section – approximately $7. The total length was around 125cm – cut into shorter lengths – enough for 3 units. Each unit needs a piece that is 36cm wide.
  • Any timber panel for the top – between 28cm and 30cm wide. I used Acacia Golden Teak utility panel 120cm long – $22. Get the panel cut to size (40cm for a single unit, 80cm for a double and leave it uncut for a triple)
  • A tiny amount of decking oil or something similar if you don’t have any already – to give some colour to the dowel.
  • A couple of surface protector stickers to help attach the dowel
  • PVA glue if you don’t already have some.

The question of the century – will Bunnings cut your timber? Well… it depends on which Bunnings you go to. If yours has a timber shed, there’s a good chance they will have the capacity to help you. Usually, the first cut is free and then there is a modest charge for each cut after that. I’d call your local to check.

Method to the Madness

[If you’re a very handy, patient and technical person, you can pre-drill some dowel-holes in the Billy panels before you assemble it. By the time I considered it, I’d already built the blippin things.]

  1. Stain your dowel to match your top. I used paper towel to rub some decking oil over mine. I did it twice and it turned out pretty well. Let it dry off a little but it’s not a biggie to use it fairly quickly.
  2. Build Billy Shelves according to instructions. They’re not hard – you’ll just need screwdrivers and a good back.
  3. Space out the shelves. I’ve taken photos (below) of the number of holes I left between each space but obviously you can do what you like 😉
  4. Plonk the timber on top. You may need to lightly sand the edge where it was cut. What do you attach it with, you ask? Nothin. Mine just sits there. I may throw some blue-tac underneath it but it works for me 😉
  5. Note the timber I got is a centimetre or so wider than the bookcase, so I just brought the bookcase forward a smidge so it lines up at the front. Photo below.
  6. Plonk the kuggis box in the top slot.
  7. Add the dowel.
  8. Voila! you now have an amazing school bag storage system!!

Ok, ok it was worth a try hahaha. You all want to know how to attach the dowel. I’m a complete hack job at this sort of thing, and there is no actual guarantee that this will work long-term but so far, so good. If it fails, I’ll just drill in from the outside of the cabinet but I reckon I should be ok.

I first stuck silicone grippy things at the end.

Silicone grippy floor protector thingies.

This extra padding wedged the dowel nicely between the two pre-drilled holes that I was using to line them up. I then put some sticky tape around the bottom (to capture the PVA glue) and poured in glue. I had to repeat this a heap of times and it got a bit messy, but the beauty of this cabinet is that you can peel off any dried glue afterward so you don’t have to be too careful.

Leave it to dry and absolutely make sure your 6-year-old son doesn’t come and kick it off. I learned this one the hard way  🙄 He is very lucky to be alive 😉

Add more glue until the ends are solid against the cabinet. It will probably take around 24-48 hours of topping up the glue and letting it dry to be finished.

Mine feels rock solid and, at the end of the day, it isn’t weight-bearing so I think it will be fine.

Here are a bunch of photos of the process:

The end

So there you have it! You can now find true zen every afternoon 😉

Happy building!

xMandy aka the Fundraising Whisperer.

PS. Even though this was totally not an exercise in self-promotion, if you find yourself here and happen to be involved in volunteering in your local community (perhaps your kids’ school?) then feel free to take a look around our site and like our Facebook page. We share heaps of great ideas.