Don’t tell my kids, but… I’m making a few wall-mount bookshelves for my kiddos that sleep on top bunks for Christmas this year! This is a very simple and fun little project that really doesn’t take much time to put together at all.
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To make the shelf, you’ll need:
- Hand saw or a compound/miter saw, depending on what you have available to you
- Paint brush, or rag for staining, and brush for varnishing
- Stencil (optional)
- Tape measure
- 1- 1x8x6
- 1- 1x4x6
- Nails (1 1/4″ finishing nails)
- Wood glue (paintable, stainable, sandable– affiliate link… just a reference point. You should be able to get this locally for a lot cheaper 🙂 )
- Paint and primer or stain and varnish
We have 3 sets of bunk beds in our house, and what each of the children sleeping on that top bunk lack is a bookshelf and a lamp. For A Homemade Holiday this year, I thought I’d build a few simple book shelves for each of those children so that they have an easy place to store their favorite books, and I’ll be picking up some tap-on nightlights to attach to the side so they have a reading light.
You could easily use scrap wood for this project, and if you do buy new boards for this project, you could get 2 shelves out of the wood without too much difficulty. Personally, I ended up buying 2- 1″x 4″x 6′ boards, because I wanted to make three shelves, but one board of each would allow you to make 1 shelf for certain, 2 if you cut out the end caps out of the 1″x 8″.
For each shelf, you will need the following cuts:
- 1- 1x 8 at 14″ for the back
- 2- 1x 4s at 14″ – one for the base, one for the front
- 2- 1x 4s at 5″ for the end pieces
(If you want to make 2 shelves out of the wood you have, you’d be about 5″ short of what you need, so you could cut down an 8″ wide piece to be the same dimensions as your 4″ board. Remember that lumber’s finished cuts are actually smaller than the labels say. A 4″ wide board is usually 3.5″)
To start with, I gently sanded my boards and figured which sides would be facing inwards and which would be showing on the shelf because I had some minor tear-out. Then I ran a line of wood glue along the bottom edge of the 8×14 piece, and placed one of the 4×14 pieces onto it. I quickly removed that board and smoothed the glue out along both pieces to give me better adhesion, and then replaced it immediately. Next I put a line of glue along the edge of the 4×14 and repeated the process with the other 4×14 board. I used one of my end pieces to help hold up the front piece of the shelf in place. Then I carefully nailed my finishing nails along the bottom front edge of the shelf, making sure to keep the pieces lined up so everything was flush.
Once that side was finished, I flipped the whole thing over carefully, and repeated this step along the lower back edge of the shelf.
Turn the shelf to one of the ends, and repeat the gluing and nailing process. Flip, and repeat on the opposite end.
I used 4 nails on the front side, 4 on the back side, and 5 on each end of the shelf. Wipe off any excess glue as you go along.
Next, I ever so slightly sanded the edges of the shelf so that the corners weren’t so blunt since this will be hanging on a wall next to a sleeping child. You could certainly get more aggressive with your sanding and round it out more if you are concerned about it. Lightly sand the whole piece to help get even coverage of your paint or stain.
I used a paint and primer on one shelf. The first coat of paint will always soak right into the wood, giving you a very light coverage since the wood was raw. A second coat will really hide the wood grain. Once your paint has dried, you can stencil a name or the words “Read” or “Books” or whatever you want along the front of the shelf. You could do pictures if you wanted to.
On another shelf, I used a 2-in-1 stain and varnish. First I stenciled on my words using a black sharpie because it was the look I was going for, but you could easily paint the name or words in. Let that dry completely, and then coat the whole shelf. I wanted a very light finish for this shelf, so one coat was plenty, but I could have kept applying layers to get a darker finish if I had wanted to.
Whether you are painting or staining, you can choose to varnish your project at the end. I almost always use a clear, satin varnish to finish my projects. It only slightly changes the color of paint, and it makes washing your project easier. After all, kids are known to have dirty hands, even if you make them wash their hands frequently!
This next step would be an optional one. I’m going to pre-drill holes into the shelf for mounting the shelf to the wall. Make sure you don’t get to close to the edges. You should be able to mount this shelf straight into one stud, but if you don’t have that option, you could use drywall anchors to help secure the shelf. (I’d take pictures of pre-drilled holes, but I can’t without drawing suspicion from the kids.)
I used inexpensive pine boards from a home improvement store, costing me $8 or less to make all three shelves. I used supplies I had at home for finishing the shelves, but I bought a stencil set for the lettering. I think one shelf would be about $6 to make if you are only buying the wood. We have quite a collection of nails and screws, so I didn’t have to purchase anything for that. As far as time goes, it maybe took me 15 minutes to assemble a shelf, from the cutting, to gluing, nailing, and even sanding. I spent less that 15 minutes total painting, stenciling, or staining any of these shelves. I’d say this could be easily completed in less than an hour.
If you want to do what I’m doing, and add a little night light to the sides, you can add one of these handy tap lights to the front or the side of the shelf, or you could go with a clamp on light.
Is this a project you’ll be tackling this year? Let me know in the comments!