Tuesday, December 26, 2017

DIY Shelf Tutorial

I made some shelves for our bare dining area wall, and boy do I love 'em! They were so easy to make, I figured I'd write up the simple instructions for all you motivated shelf-builders.


The bottom shelf functioned as a hearth and housed our stockings this year!

But first, a warning: This is probably going to be the worst shelf tutorial you have ever read. It may read something like this: Get the watchamacallit and put it in the other thingie, and then maybe ask a Home Depot guy what to do next.

There will also be very few step-by-step photos. I was so excited to get these shelves mounted, that I didn't take many photos along the way. I did, however, accidentally take this shot of Jay measuring something:

And I did take a few Instagram stories, so I will include those in lieu of step-by-step photos. I've also forgotten the names of pretty much everything I used for this project, so I've had to fish out my receipt for help. I'm having trouble reading the receipt, though; so I'm trying to fill in the blanks. It's sort of like Wheel of Fortune, except with rather higher stakes that could affect your home improvement dreams.

But don't let my shoddy tutorial ways fool you: these shelves are TERRIFIC! And EASY! You can do this! On a budget!

  • Wood — I got three pine beams that were six feet long, eight inches wide, and one inch thick (I think they call that 6 x 8 x 1. Or is it 8 x 6 x 1? or 1 x 8 x 6? Or maybe none of the above?!)
  • Stain 
  • Sealer (optional)
  • Paint brush 
  • Rags
  • Sand paper
  • Shelf brackets
  • Screws — Wood and/or Dry Wall (wood if you'll screw into studs; dry wall if you won't)
  • A level
  • An electric drill

If you are like me, then you will spend at least 3 hours in Home Depot for this phase of the project. You will get lost, stuck in crowded aisles, disoriented, deflated, confused, and full of second-guesses; and eventually, you will begin to forget who you are and what your life's purpose is. But don't lose heart: just keep talking to employees until you find someone who has lots of experience with home projects, and eventually you will find everything you need, and you will see the sunlight again.

I was originally going to get the big old beams in the main lumber section and then have them cut, but an angel with an orange apron and a white beard, named Louie, came to my rescue and told me I would tear my wall apart with beams that heavy. He redirected me to some nice, thin beams instead (they're just one inch thick; and pre-cut!). They were so nice and light, I could lift them without having to wrangle nearby young men to help!

Nice, light beams!

Then find some sand paper. I also got this handy dandy sanding tool:

Next: select the stain and sealer of your choice (confession, I didn't use sealer. I forgot to get it). I used Minwax stain in Dark Walnut.

Then find brackets that float your shelving boat. I wanted rather inconspicuous brackets, so I went with THESE industrial pipe brackets.

When you're shopping for screws, consider on what part of the wall you'll be mounting your shelves. If you're mounting the screws in dry wall, you will need dry wall screws. I recommend finding an angel like Louie to help you find dry wall screws that work with your brackets.

If I were a regular wood-working pro, I would tell you which screws go with which brackets, but these here shelves of mine are standing by the grace of God and Louie, so my advice is very limited.  

Or, if you're mounting screws into studs like we did, then you can get wood screws. Ours were #8 x 1 1/2 inches.


Before staining your wood, sand every last inch of it. This will open up the grain so stain can permanently settle there.

After sanding, make sure there isn't a speck of sawdust clinging to your shelves. Once they are clean, you can begin staining.

To stain, just follow the directions of the can, man. I painted the stain on with a paint brush and then rubbed the excess off with a rag.

(Blogger has turned my Instagram shelf stories into a warbly mess. This is par for my tutorial course, obviously). 

I let my shelves air out outside for a couple of weeks since the smell of stain was so strong. I made sure to bring them inside at night, though, so the elements wouldn't wet and warp them.

When the smell of stain has disappeared, measure and mount your brackets with the drill. If you don't own a level, you can use this handy trick.

Then fill 'em with your books, plants, ceramics, and other doo dahs.

My shelf decor is sponsored by Ross Dress For Less and The 99 Cent Store.

These are all from Ross (on clearance!):

The white candle holder is from Ross; the geometric ball is from the 99 cent store

And these are from the 99 Cent Store:
Isn't this a fun little vase?!
The candle holder and the owl (it's a bank) seemed like the perfect finishing touches

I'm learning that the 99 Cent Store is a treasure trove of finds — some of them so nice, they look like they could be from Pottery Barn. Truly. I love it there.

And there you have it, folks. Simple, cool shelves!

Up next: I'm making a coffee table. Here's to hoping my next tutorial is a little more savvy!

I hope you had a most restful and celebratory Christmas remembering the birth of the Savior of the World, my friends!



facebook iconhttps://www.instagram.com/sarahjacksonpanther/pinterest iconheart icon

© by scj


  1. Sarah, you did a great job on those shelves. For me I love my job at Home Depot. You are right there are employees there that can help you. But if you need help trust me we have contractors that help the customers when needed. It's amazing when I see that happening. Thank you for keeping me up on all the projects you are doing. Blessings always and a happy joyous New Year!❤ Patti

    1. Thank you, Patti! Man, those contractors are a life (or shelf and wall) saver! Thank goodness for the Louies of this world. ;) And how fun to work at Home Depot! You must learn a lot working there... A very celebratory New Year to you, too, Patti!

  2. What could be more satisfying than making your own selves? They turned out fabulously! Can't wait to see the upcoming blog/video of your coffee table! Well done!

    1. Ann, you are right: it is just so satisfying! And thank you! I am eager to get going on this coffee table. I just have to pick out the stain and I can jump right in. Woo hoo!

      A very happy New Year to you, Ann!