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How To Make Cheap & Easy Chunky Scrap Wood Shelves

One more bathroom project I did last weekend was making some chunky shelves made from scrap wood that I had left over from last summer’s elevated garden bed project.  If you’ll remember, I made my wood vanity countertop out of cedar fence pickets, and since I just happened to have some leftover cedar 2″ x 4″ lumber, I decided to use that for shelves above the toilet.

ake cheap and easy shelves from scrap wood

The only thing I had to purchase were the shelf brackets, and I went super cheap on those.  You have to look in the lumber department of Home Depot for these bad boys, and they’re about $1.69 each.  They’re really rough cut, so there’s quite a bit of sanding involved to get them to look smooth and pretty, but I don’t mind a bit of sanding.

So my three chunky wood shelves ended up costing me just over $10.

To make the shelves, I got to use my Kreg Jig.  Have I mentioned how much I love my Kreg Jig?  If not, let me do so now.  I love it.  🙂  I wish I hadn’t waited so long to purchase it.

Since I was using scrap 2″ x 4″ lumber, I needed to join two pieces together to make one shelf.  I started by drilling my pocket holes into one piece of lumber.  (I had already cut six pieces that were 26 inches long.)

Use Kreg Jig to make scrap wood shelves, drill pocket holes

You can see the two pocket holes in this piece…

Scrap wood shelves made with Kreg Jig pocket hole guide

Then I took a second piece of lumber, and put a bead of wood glue along the edge…

Chunky scrap wood shelves made from 2" x 4" lumber with Kreg Jig

Next, I placed the piece with the pocket holes right on top, edge to edge, and used the Kreg clamp to hold the pieces securely together.

Chunky wood shelves made with scrap wood

And then I drilled a screw through the perfect little pocket hole…

Use a Kreg Jig to secure two pieces of lumber to make scrap wood shelves

And finally, I used these little wood plugs to cover up the pocket holes…

Wood plug to use with Kreg Jig to fill the pocket holes

I can never get them in perfectly…

Pocket hole wood plug

…but once the glue dries, I just use my electric sander to make it perfectly smooth.

After my shelves were put together, I let the glue dry for a bit, and then sanded the shelves smooth.  Then I stained them with one coat of Minwax Early American, followed by one coat of Minwax Special Walnut.  Then I finished the with two coats of Minwax polyurethane in a satin finish, sanding lightly between the coats.

ake cheap and easy shelves from scrap wood

I have no idea what I’m going to put on them yet, so I need to give that some thought.

In addition to decorating my shelves, I still have some touch up painting to do on the walls and trim.  Then that leaves two projects:  shower curtain and floor cloth (yep, I decided to do another painted floor cloth since I can’t find any rugs with these colors at a reasonable price).

So this project is winding down, and I feel certain I’ll meet my 20-day goal!  Woohoo!  🙂

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 5, 2013 at 11:09 am

    and another great addition to your bathroom which looks fantastic! thanks for the explanation on how to join the boards, that clarified a mystery for me and I will think of getting the stuff to be able to do that myself! I keep my fingers crossed for you to reach your goal – and I am sooooo curious what you decide about your shower curtain…

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kelly PalmerKelly Palmer
    March 5, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Very pretty and they look so much better than the old cupboard that you removed! I too can’t wait for the shower curtain reveal 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kelly @ Eclectically Vintage
    March 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    These are fabulous Kristi! I have been contemplating what type of shelves to put in my bathroom – now I just need that jig … and you to come and whip them up for me! Seriously, will be pinning these so I can try and be as fabulous as you one day!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Barbara @ DIY Home Staging Tips
    March 5, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Kristi, your bath is looking so sweet! Keep on truckin’ cuz you’re almost to the finish line. I think the shelves add real class. I like the way the three of them tie the lower wall treatment to the top half of the walls. After reading an Apartment Therapy post today, I see that you’ve hit some nails on the head incorporating upcoming trends. Their post is about kitchens, but you have some of the elements down, like wood countertop and open shelving.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 5, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Looking good!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 6, 2013 at 12:47 am

    They turned out perfectly! Great way to tie different elements of your room together!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 6, 2013 at 8:50 am

    You never cease to amaze me at your DIY-ing. I love every project you have done in your condo. I am also looking forward to seeing your choice for a shower curtain and your final reveal.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 6, 2013 at 9:15 am


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 6, 2013 at 9:30 am

    You have amazing DIY skills – it is really inspiring me to take on some building projects all by myself rather than working with my husband on them! Maybe one day… Thanks for the tutorial. The shelves look great and really help draw the different elements of your bathroom together.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I absolutely love this bathroom. The colors are so pretty and all the projects are something I could do now.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    These shelves are so pretty! They will be so useful, next to the sink for toiletries, small hand towels/washcloths and maybe a ‘pretty’ or two. Love the way they look and guess what? YOU ARE ALMOST DONE!!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    20-Day Small Bathroom Makeover – Before and After
    March 12, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    […] Above the toilet, the old, massive cabinet is now gone, and I now have shelves that I made from scrap wood and very inexpensive brackets. […]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Essential DIY Tools — Electric Sander
    March 21, 2013 at 10:00 am

    […] used it on my bathroom shelves and the countertop.  For both of those, I used very rough cedar, and after sanding, the wood was […]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    DIY Built-In Bookcases, Part 2 (Making The Wood Countertop)
    April 29, 2013 at 9:23 am

    […] 4′s left over from my elevated garden bed project last summer. Those are what I used for the simple shelves in my bathroom makeover, and I loved how those turned out, so I decided to use them for the […]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 16, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    How did you attach the brackets to the shelves? Wood glue? I have some wall space behind a door in my kids’ bathroom and I’m going to use some scrap lumber to make these shelves to hold each of my children’s toothbrush and cup. One shelf for each child with a painted, wooden initial on each to “label” everyone’s shelf. I think it will be so cute and provide much needed storage space, organization, and style. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April S
    January 4, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Building something similar today… what’s the best way to hang these on the wall?