Woodwork 101 – shelves

Our house is a work in progress. Built as a bungalow in 1970, it’s been knocked about and added to by every owner since then. We were given several sets of architects plans when we moved in which show the changing layouts that have been used over the years. We’ve also done our fair share of building work over the 8 years we have lived here so far. One room we’ve pretty much left as we found it has been the walk in boiler room cum airing cupboard. This is an awkward space behind the boys bathroom which houses the boiler, water tank and various bits of dubious looking pipework. Someone at one point bodged together some basic shelving across one wall at head height and used metal pipe in the alcove to the left. This has been where we have battled to store towels, bed linen and other random things like snorkels and swimming gear. Because of the nature of the shelves, things were lost at the top and heads were often scraped getting things from the bottom. It didn’t work. It’s now gone. What is happening there is for another blog another day. However I have salvaged some of the wood to make wooden slatted shelves in the alcove.

This is how it looked stripped of horrid yellow tubes and painted (too awful to show you the true “before” picture)


And this is how it looks now (well pre-putting everything back onto the shelves)

Tools I used:

  • Measuring tape & Jigsaw to cut the salvaged wood into the right lengths. I had enough 1″ by 1″ lengths for the bottom shelf. I then used some 2″ by 1″ lengths for the middle and top shelves.
  • Drill, wood screws and panel pins to construct. I was able to reuse wood screws from the old panelling. I used 40mm panel pins to hold the slats in place
  • Spirit level to ensure I wasn’t going wonky!

What have I learnt:

  • Measure twice or more before cutting, drilling or nailing. I did get some of the measurements a bit out which meant having to pull a few nails out and adjust them. Nothing major but it took longer because I rushed at the start. I never learn this.
  • Check whether the existing structure needs attention. I had to put some extra nails in to support the side panels so that I could put new nails in to secure the new slats.
  • Use what you have – I used the spare lengths I had as spacers when putting the slats on the side bars.
  • Take time drilling holes to ensure everything lines up. I put the screws into the panels so the tip poked out the other side which meant it was a lot easier to line up to the drilled holes in the uprights.
  • Work in the right order. I did the bottom shelf first and worked upwards so that I had space to hammer in each panel pin. I also hammered the slats to the side bars on one side before I attached the side bars to the uprights. This meant lining everything up was trickier, but spacing the slats was a lot easier on the floor.


It hasn’t fallen down when I put all the storage boxes back onto it. And my son is now reconsidering my usefulness in his treehouse building plans. However it does have a few uneven edges and the odd nail which bent over during hammering!

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