Friday, May 18, 2012

Ben's Wooden Crate Bookshelves

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They're finished!
I finally got around to completing Ben's bookshelves yesterday
all thanks to my in laws taking Ben for the night on Wednesday.
It was truly glorious. I haven't been able to work on a project uninterrupted for that long in...
well I don't even know the last time, to be honest.

I had seen this picture a couple of months ago of front-facing bookshelves
made from a wooden pallet, and I knew that's what I wanted for Ben's room.
I decided to go for it.

I'm including my tutorial below if you're interested.
This project was virtually free for me.
The crate was certainly free,
and I had everything else.

I did buy some extra pieces of lumber (3 1x3's) for the bottom of the shelves
that didn't break the bank at about $1.50 a piece.
Oh yes, and a couple bucks for the mounting hardware.
That's it! So cheap.

I kept the "pallet look" by just using a pickling stain instead of paint,
and I did not fill any holes from the nails.
If you wanted a more finished look, I would fill those with some wood filler
and then either paint or stain darker.

But I decided I that I wanted to be able to tell that it used to be a pallet.
And it seems to fit in well with the other furniture in Ben's room.

I also added some quotes (listed at the bottom of the post) about reading that I love, some serious and some silly.
I found a TON, and it was difficult to narrow my favorites down to three,
but I did, and they're great.
And the best part of the whole thing?
Ben LOVES to take out the books.
(We'll have to work on putting them back in)
And the bottom shelf is just the right height for him right now.

He loves to read which is exciting
because I have always had a love affair with books
and I know that the love of books had a HUGE positive impact on my life.
I certainly hope this trend continues for him.

So here's how I made them!

Pallet Bookshelf Tutorial
Step One:
Hack up your pallet.
I was able to get three shelves out of mine.
Depending on the construction of the pallet, you might only be able to get two.

Step Two:
Pry off one of your boards.
You could try and use this board as your bottom piece.
I didn't for two reasons: the board was too wide and I couldn't seem to get the boards off without them splitting and I wanted a nice strong board since that's the piece on which the books will sit.
Be sure to take out all of your nails and such.


Repeat for all of the shelves.

Step Three:
Sand it down. I sanded mine thoroughly first with a coarse, then a medium, then a fine grit sandpaper.
I hate sanding. Hate. But I would rather sand than pull out splinters from Ben's hands later, yes? yes.

Step Four:
Cut the lumber for the bottom of the shelves.
Again, I used a 1x3 for each.
My shelves were about 4.5 feet long, so I cut a piece to match with my mitre saw.


Step Five:
Attach the bottom piece.

I glued mine and then nailed where the bottom piece met the braces (four).

Step Six:
Final sanding and cleaning of the shelves.
You want to make sure that you have a clean, dry, smooth surface to paint or stain.

Almost there!
Looking good, yeah?

Step Seven:
I used a white pickling stain by Minwax.
There are so many different stains out there, it's crazy.

I think it would be fun also to do a colored stain, especially since these are for a kid's room.
Follow the directions on the label of whatever product you use,
and keep in mind that you might want more coats,
the more coats, the more saturated the color.

Step Eight:
Once my stain had dried, I added my quotes.
If you have a fancy Silhouette machine of something like that, this would be really quick and neat.
I've also found this technique.
But in the end I just printed my quotes in a couple different fonts and used those as a reference to free hand the words.
I drew them on with pencil first, and then painted them on with a watered down acrylic paint.
Step Nine:
Attach your mounting hardware,
and mount to the wall.
Please use extra care when selecting your hardware and mounting furniture in a child's room.
You don't want anything to fall down on anyone,
and it's always best practice to assume that it will be pulled on.

Fill that thing with books and cozy up with a good one.

"Let us read and let us dance- two amusements that will never do any harm to the world." -Voltaire

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." -Frederick Douglass

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx


  1. This is such a great project and it looks like your little boy is having so much fun already! Wow! I'm really not very good with working with nails and such.

    1. Thanks! Yes, Ben seems to really love them. :) This project is pretty beginner-friendly as woodworking goes, and the great thing thing about it is that it doesn't come out exactly right, it's okay because it just looks more "rustic". :)

  2. again with the incredible.

    can you just be my live-in project doer?


    1. only if you'll be my live-in seamstress. I have PLENTY of weird pieces from Goodwill that would make your culottes look like haute couture.


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