Building a Laundry Chute, Part One

Category: Do it Yourself

A good while back we asked for advice about laundry chute dimensions. That question wasn't just theoretical...the time has finally come!

The Challenge
One of the conveniences we've wanted to add as we renovate our craftsman bungalow. (Jeannie already pulled out her back once hauling laundry to the basement.) And while it's nearly impossible to find a perfect place for a chute in an old home, we found a pretty good compromise.

First FloorSecond Floor

This location will allow us to access the chute near each bathroom and most of the bedrooms. It did mean losing half of a small hall closet, but this seemed to be a reasonable trade-off compared to other options.

Read on for an overview of how we started the project.

Our Approach--Building the Chute
After considering our options, we decided to build our chute with melamine, a plastic-faced particle board commonly used for shelving. The material is extremely smooth--a perfect surface for allowing clothes to drop down without any resistance. (As an aside , metal ductwork is another common choice you may want to consider--it's less sturdy but works in smaller spaces.)

The total height of our chute will be 16 feet from top to bottom. (They'll be doors for the chute on both floors and a trap door in the basement. This is critical for preventing the spread of fire...knock on wood.) The floor joists allow for a chute that is approximately 12 1/2" wide, while the depth of the chute will be about 11". Overall, it should be pretty generous in size.

My first task was trimming the melamine to fit between the floor joists. I picked up a new carbide blade for the saw--melamine easily shows chips where the blade exits the cut so a clean sharp blade is a must.

For a clean look, I decided to assemble the chute box using a dowel kit--all the fastners will be invisible when finished, unlike nails or screws. i picked up a 1/4" kit for a couple of bucks, which included dowel centers, a brad point drill bit, a rubber depth stop collar, and plenty of wooden dowels. The depth stop collar went over the bit as a marker to prevent drilling too deep into the boards.

After some quick work with the dowel centers, I'd made four holes for each joint and glued each dowel in place.

I also ran a bead of glue (I used Gorilla Glue) all along each joint. Then it was time to assemble the box. Clamps held the joints together firmly, which I let set for the night...

The cut-out on the top board is for the door in the closet on the first floor. I'm assembling a second box that will rest on top of the first at that point and go the rest of the distance to the second floor.

Next, I'll be cutting access holes through each floor and putting the chute boxes in place. More to come...

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That Gorilla Glue is pretty sticky stuff! Are your fingers all black from it today, or did you wear gloves? (Or were you able to _not_ get any on yourself???)


I didn't get it on myself, thankfully. It was a pretty simple application so I guess I was lucky.

I do know what you're talking about, hands were black with glue when I rebuilt our bathroom's medicine cabinet.

Gorilla glue is great stuff. The problem is it expands so much you must be careful or you get a lot of squeeze out. Keep the glue on the inside so it won't show if it does squeeze out... POPS"30"

I used to live in a house with a laundry chute. As a fourth-sixth grader, I thought that was the coolest thing ever!

Frightening is that there WAS a house in my past with a laundry chute.

As various Barbie Dolls and even the hamster found out one day.

p.s. The hamster was A-OK. Lots of clothes in the bottom, very short slide. Which kid did it? I'm not sayin'. But I would advise against doing this. Which is why our laundry chute? Will have a childproof lock on it until the any little ones are well past hamster days...

Don't feel too bad about your hamster slide experience - I too am from a laundry-chuted house that saw many a hamster take the dive onto a pile of clothes. But we lived in a split level so it was a very SHORT dive, if that helps ;)

Niether my brother nor I ever went down the chute ourselves, having been scared out of it by our parents, who told us the child of the previous owners once got stuck trying to go down it. Not sure whether or not that's actually TRUE, but it sure kept us from sticking more than our heads in =) I should ask my mom about that some time...

Good luck with the rest of your chute construction - I can't wait to see how it turns out! Wish we had a spot for one in our new house...


Aaron, was this inspired by our house in Nebraska with the laundry chute? I remember that was the best hide and seek spot. I got a little stuck once, though.

Kjerstin, hey sis! Yes, I have been thinking about that Nebraska laundry was indeed a fun space for hide and seek. The difference here is that our chute will be vertical, not horizontal like that one was. So, no hiding in this one without causing quite the emergency! Luckily this chute would be extremely difficult for someone to get inside (unless your a little green army man, that is).


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