The Look for (Much) Less: DIY Open Shelving

The Look for (Much) Less: DIY Open Shelving

Feb 16, 2011

The inspiration for this project was the CB2 3.14 white bookcase. I loved the clean lines and airy design and had been looking for an open storage solution for my small kitchen. The problem was it was about half a foot too long for the space and at $450 was well outside my budget. Looking at the piece a bit more closely I had an "I could do that" moment…

Having taken woodshop in college, I love to examine how things are put together and the design of this piece is very straightforward. I don't have access to a woodshop so the only tool I used was an electric drill. While it is feasible to do this alone, I recommend working with another person who can hold the boards in place while you work.

After measuring the space where the shelves were to go I blocked the area out with tape to get an idea of the footprint of the piece and to see if I could easily work around it in the kitchen. Next I determined the height I wanted the space between the shelves to be and marked it out in tape on the wall as well. I determined I wanted the width of the shelves to be 41" so it would sit flush with the wall and the height or the individual shelves to be 12" to accommodate my tallest vase.

Next was a trip to my beloved Home Depot. I chose to work with pine because of its cost effectiveness but you do need to watch out for bowing with any of the softer woods. They precut the boards to your dimensions for you so I had them cut five 41" pieces and eight 12" pieces of an 11" wide board. I also purchased a small can of primer and a can of high gloss white paint. The total cost for materials was around $80.

Once I got the materials home I began the measuring, this is the easiest part to mess up so double check your work before you put any holes in the wood. I staggered the pieces 4 inches apart, with the innermost supports sitting exactly one quarter of the way in on either side. Once I had drawn my measurements out in pencil on the boards I lined the boards up and drilled pilot holes through the horizontal piece and into the vertical support. I spaced out 3 holes, one in the center of the wood and the others inset about an inch from the edge.

Once the pilot holes were drilled I worked level-by-level assembling the piece using wood screws, this was fairly easy to do because of the staggered design. With the completed piece assembled I prepared it for painting, covering the tops of the screws with wood putty and sanding any rough patches. Next I applied a coat of primer with a brush, then a coat of the glossy paint.

The project took a total of about 4 hours to complete and cost around $80, saving me close to $400 once you factored in the shipping costs on the CB2 piece. It fits perfectly in my kitchen and I love both the way it looks and the extra storage space it provides.


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