how to build shelves, boat shaped shelves, first woodworking project, shelf plans
Illustration from a set of shelf plans exploding the parts so the user can see how each part relates to the whole

How the Parts of the Shelf Relate

How To Build Shelves Is An Easy  First Woodworking Project

Most things are easy to start if you follow three steps, which I call the keys, to your success in woodworking.  A contractor knows he needs

plans before he builds, the tailor knows he needs a pattern before he makes a suit, and a good woodworker knows he needs a set of shelf plans before he tackles a shelf building project.

Shelf plans can be found virtually anywhere.  Free ones and ones for purchase are on the web, there are books in the reference sections of the major home improvement stores, and books abound at your own public library.  If this is your first shelf project, you would be well advised to buy a set of quality shelf plans which will guide you step-by-step through project and will also include lists of the materials and tools you will need.

Some would tell you to pick the design first, but given these trying times, my advice is to determine your budget first.  Once you have determined the price range of your project, then you are ready to begin your basic research for designs and materials.

Your second task will be selecting your design.  Literally, thousands of woodworking designs are available at the click of your mouse.  Your design will be dependent in greatest part on two factors.  The location of the shelves.  Are you planning to build garage storage shelves or furniture quality book shelves?  What will the weight or load be on the shelves you  are planning?  Knowing these facts then frees you to begin evaluating shelf plans for your exact purpose.

Pictured are three small boat hulls standing upright on the sterns' transoms with additional cross members from port to starboard creating shelves.

Books and Ships Ahoy!

Last, but certainly not least, learn all you can about the project you will be building and practice with the tools you’ll use if you are rusty or have never used a particular tool before.  You’ll often find too that you can learn a great deal from family members and/or friends who have shelf building experience.  Asking for and receiving help from others is a wonderful way to solidify bonds with them too.  It opens the door for reciprocal give and take in the future and allows for the sharing our most precious assets, our  time and our knowledge.

Have fun with your project and do take a minute to evaluate the quality and the many choices you will have when you purchase your shelf plans from this premier woodworker from Iowa.


Give Your Lower Back a Break and Organize


Six years ago while we were building our “last” house, I spent endless hours designing our kitchen. One thing I knew I wanted were cabinets

Pictured are twin sliding shelves, both top and bottom, running the full length of a double cabinet and loaded with pots and pans.

Heavy Duty Double Cabinet Sliding Shelves

which were organized and had sliding shelves. In 1990 when we built our former house, sliding shelves were fairly new to the builders. Frankly, I didn’t even know they existed at the time, and large lumber stores weren’t on every corner.

What I did know by the time we built the second house was that I was really tired of getting on the floor to see what was in the back of the bottom shelves. It had become wearisome to lug heavy pots up from the backs of cabinets too. So build sliders we did, and we have well organized, sliding shelves everywhere now, and that’s no exaggeration.

It’s no secret how much I love my sliding shelves, but now I don’t know what I would do without them. Last fall, my lower back was injured badly. To say it was painful would be a gross understatement and five months later, I still treat it gingerly and it still gets sore toward the end of the day.   Of course, that would be just about the time dinner needs to be cooked.

My sliding shelves now have become my Godsend. Without them, I literally could not function in my kitchen. I cook with cast iron at virtually every meal and those pans are very heavy. Of course, like most kitchens, my heavier things are on the bottom shelves. If you have ever injured your lower back, you know how painful it is to bend over, reach out, pick up something heavy, and then stand up with the heavy object in your hands. In fact, usually, you just can’t do it. While these shelves don’t cure a bad back, but they can sure help you function.

Today sliding shelf plans are available and fairly simple and cheap to make yourself. The heavy duty hardware, while not so cheap, can be purchased for around twenty dollars a shelf. If you buy furniture grade plywood, your shelves will be beautiful and hold up to 75 pounds. Now that’s a lot of pots and pans. My favorite is the oak plywood which is

Using sliding shelf plans, this freshly installed roller tracks for a bottom slider shelf appeared to be anchored well to the cabinet floor.

Freshly Installed Bottom Rails for a Sliding Shelf

very attractive and very strong.

With a good set of sliding shelf plans, you should be able to complete each slider for around thirty dollars which is about one-third what this quality slider shelf would run if you bought them retail.  In upcoming posts, we will discuss exactly how to put together these fantastic shelves. We’ll also share many other reasons why you might want to do this home improvement project yourself and soon.

tetris shelf, shelf plans for tetris shelves, wall shelf, designer shelves

Beginner or Pro Will Enjoy These

You might be a beginner or a pro, regardless you will enjoy these five simple woodworking projects.  Woodworkers enjoy the feel of the woods they mold into useful objects.  Part of the feeling of well being the woodworker enjoys

Floating wall shelf with corbels to add strength to the hold items like vases.

Attractive Display of Mementos on Wall Shelves

comes from giving others a piece of themselves each time they share their work with others.  The five simple roads to self-satisfaction are:

1.   The solid wood Picture Frame

Nothing makes a house a home more than having the walls adorned with framed works of art or pictures and portraits of family members.  These are the things which give your home a personality all its own and without speaking at all make your visitors feel at home too.

2. Bookshelf

This doesn’t need to be a large project, but rather one like this simple bookcase.  This is a lovely little bookcase that I wrote about in my previous article.  It is a true piece of furniture and could appropriately be placed in the living area or in the bedroom to accommodate your night time reading.

tetris shelf, shelf plans for tetris shelves, wall shelf, designer shelves

Tetris Split Wall Shelves – Simple & Stunning Project

3.  Set of Wall Shelves

One of the least expensive and most decorative way to show off your walls is with a handsome floating wall shelf or one more substantial depending upon the space available and the size of the room.  Narrow floating shelves are best for narrow areas, while a larger room would be best for the heartier wall shelves.  Either shelf type can be a simple project with a little imagination, some stain or paint, and some quality shelf plans.  To learn more, click on the link in this section and you will see there are so many plans from which to choose, your creativity will come alive.

4.  A Decorative Address Sign or Plaque

A decorative address sign which is coordinated with the style of your home or an address plaque hung on the front of your home will add value and make a statement that you care.  Either of these is relatively simple, but the degree of difficulty is your choice.

5.  A Bird Feeder or Birdhouse

A bird feeder or a birdhouse are great projects and will bring wildlife to your yard and can be enjoyed forever.  Take a moment to visit my other sites on Bird Feeder Plans and the one on Birdhouse Plans.  As you can probably tell, I love my home, my woodworking, and my back yard complete with my

Small, decorative bird feeder for sparrows, finches, and wrens

Decorative Small Bird Feeder

very own birdhouses and bird feeders.

If you read our “About” page, you know I’m probably a girl with a name like “Judy”.  And, you would be right.  I bring this up only to encourage the other girls who might be reading my woodworking blogs.  Woodworking is like sewing with really heavy materials and needles.  Woodworking is an art to most of us, and as such, with the right tools you will easily be able to build anything you can imagine and still be a lady.

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