Last Week I Made Some Shelves (Or, I Still Don’t Have Chairs)

I moved to Tennessee with two big boxes of clothes and no dresser. As I mentioned before, a practical person would’ve bought a dresser. Or maybe a practical person would’ve accepted the fact that she only wears two outfits and gotten rid of everything else. Instead I built some shelves. I wanted to build a dresser, but fear overtook me, plus there were already some boards in place.

This isn’t a very well-documented DIY instructional post. My closet is awkward and so all my photos are at awkward angles. There is also no before photo, because the before photo just looks like a wall. Instead, this will be a very DIY guidelines post.

Home Depot and I became good buddies during this project, but I’m sure you can find lumber much more cheaply and possible second-hand on Craigslist or Freecycle.

Project Materials
*Lumber (I used 3/4″ X 1″ X length needed for the shelf support boards and 1″ X 4″ X length needed for the actual shelf)
*Drill and drill bit
*Stud finder
*Sandpaper (I used 150 grit since that was what was on hand)
*Pencil, Sharpie marker
*Paint and paint brush (optional)

1. Use a pencil and mark where on the wall you want your shelf to be. Measure the lengths. You’ll need to know the length you want the support boards to be, which should be two separate measurements (one measurement for Wall #2, one measurement for Walls #1 & #3 as pictured below). The support boards will hold your actual shelf board up. The length of Walls #1 & #3 will also be the width of your shelf. (Does that make sense? I feel like if I were reading this, I’d just give up after that sentence and go look at the photos below.)
2. Purchase lumber and cut it to size. The Home Depot I went to had a self-service cutting station with a bunch of handsaws. After spending nearly an hour trying to cut the boards with a very dull handsaw so they’d fit in my car, I gave up, stuff the remaining lumber in my car, went home, made a sawhorse out of some tubs and cut the remaining boards in about three seconds with my not-so-dull saw.
2. Use a stud finder and mark where studs are. Don’t just drill into plaster. That’s silly. You want to make sure you’re screwing your support boards into something solid. Like a wall stud.
3. Hold your perfectly-cut lumber against the wall, make sure it’s level, and pre-drill where the studs are. Good news -I only pre-drilled in reverse once this time around.
4. Drill a screw into your pre-drilled hole and into the stud. Make sure it’s still level and drill the remaining screws in.
5. Do this for Walls #1, #2, and #3.
6. Sand all boards, including the shelf board. If you plan to paint, paint the boards.
7. Once the paint is dry, place the large shelf board on the support boards. Ta da! Shelf. Repeat for as many shelves as you’d like.

Photo on 2014-05-14 at 11.17
While writing this instructional out, I realized an illustration might be nice, so I drew one. I got overwhelmed about actually taking my camera out of its bag, but Photo Booth came to the rescue. Walls #1, #2, #3. Support boards for Walls #1 and #3 will be the same length (Length “B”). The Wall #2 support board is indicated by Length “A.”

Well hey there, drill. We meet again.

I didn’t have a sawhorse and no longer have a washer and dryer that I can use as substitutes, so I made my own with Blue Tubs #1 and #2.


Levels are important.


Sanding boards.20140430_Closet_Shelves_03

See that newspaper to catch paint drips? That’s known as responsibility.


I still don’t have chairs, so Blue Tub #1 came in handy again when painting the way-up-there-high shelves.


Shelves, officially painted.20140502_Shelves_02

Shelves, officially filled.

Through My Headphones

*Let Me Go -HAIM


2 thoughts on “Last Week I Made Some Shelves (Or, I Still Don’t Have Chairs)

  1. Closet shelves for clothes are great! Frankly, I prefer them now to drawers. It really helps with seeing what clothes you have and what actually gets worn, etc. I switched back to a dresser for 2 years and was miserable. Hope you love your shelves as much as I do!

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