I love, love, love these shelves. They are easy, functional, inexpensive, AND I get so many compliments on them. Plus they saved me hundreds of dollars by not having to buy an extensive piece of dining room furniture for storing my dishes. In addition to these dining room shelves, I’ve also built single shelves/ledges in other rooms as well.
- Shelves: Two (2) “2X12” Boards @ 8 feet long each
If you will be using your shelves for dishes, a 2×12 will be deep enough to hold plates and platter.
I used Pine lumber which is super inexpensive, and has a loose grain (see me note below regarding wood grain if you plan to burn the wood), however other type of lumber will work too.
Note: If you will be burning the wood, look for more space between the grains (i.e. a looser grain), which will result in more contrast when burning. This is why we chose Pine.
- Corbels/Brackets: 4 wooden corbels
These come in different designs and sizes. In order to support a 2X12 board, be sure to choose one that will stick out far enough to support the 12 inch depth of the shelf. I purchased this Waddell Corbel from Home Depot, which is about 9.5 inches deep and comes unfinished.
- Stain: Oil-based wood stain
If you choose to stain your shelves, I recommend an oil-based stain for best results. I chose a medium brown without any hint of red.
- Sander and sand-paper
I recommend a medium grit (80-100) followed by a fine grit (220) for a smooth finish.
- Hand torch (optional)
You will need this if you want to burn the grain (see below).
1. Sand the boards
Sand your boards. I recommend sanding first with a medium grit (80-100) followed by a fine grit (220) for a smooth finish.
2. Burning the wood (optional)
I LOVE wood grain and wanted a modern farmhouse feel. So the first thing I did was torch, or burn, the wood. Using a small, handheld torch, I slowly burned the board. It’s easier than you might think. This results in the lightest part of the woodgrain to burn brown/black while the negative part of the woodgrain remains unburned. It’s a really cool effect that will allow the woodgrain to stand out after you stain the wood for a more rustic look.
To burn the wood:
Light the torch and move it across the board in the direction of the grain at a slow and steady pace, until you’ve covered all sides. Longer strokes are best, but there is no right way, and you will get better with practice.
The trickiest part (in my opinion) is keeping your hands/arms steady. I tackle this by squatting and bracing my elbows against my knees while I hold the torch.
Practice on the bottom first or use a test piece.
Don’t forget to burn the ends and the bottoms. That way the shelves look completely finished when installed.
Note: When buying your wood, look for more space between the grains (i.e. a looser grain), will result in more contrast when burning. This is why we chose Pine.
(Sample board pictured below. The actual boards used are much wider, and with a looser/wider grain.)
Actual board used for shelf, with looser/wider grain.
3. Stain the boards
After burning your boards, stain them if desired. Don’t forget to stain the sides and bottom. The burnt woodgrain will show through the stain.
4. Paint/stain the corbels (optional)
This is completely up to your taste. I like the look of the corbels painted the same color as the wall; alternatively, you can stain them to match the boards.
5. Measure and hang the corbels
After measuring the placement, hang your corbels at the desired height from the ground, and width between each corbel. Be sure to find studs when hanging the corbels. The weight of the shelves alone will require the use of studs, plus whatever weight is added from the items you place on the shelves.
Note: I’ve included the height and width measurements I used in pics below.
6. Add the shelves and you’re done!
Once the paint/stain has dried completely on both the corbels and boards, position your boards on the corbels. It is recommended that you secure the shelves to the corbels using screws.
To be honest, mine are not secured. The boards just sit on the corbels, and that works for me. They do not move easily because the boards plus the weight of the dishes is very heavy. However, the safest bet (and my recommendation) is to secure them.