Big Shelves, Small Tools




Introduction: Big Shelves, Small Tools

About: I’m am Systems Engineer (nothing to do with IT) by training, in my spare time I love designing building, making pretty much anything. I also love doing new thing, going to new places and being outside. I reall…

I love reusing wood and building new things out of it. In this istructable I built a massive set of shelves out of old scaffolding boards and some old posts, have no I dear what they were from. These are really easy to make and look really cool.

I built theses shelves before I knew about instructables and so don't have as many photos as I would like but I really wanted to share these with you as I have never seen any quite like them.

Renting a house or a room like I used to generally means you can't drill into the wall with out annoying the landlord, so these shelves had to be self supporting.

Total cost about £50


4 scaffolding boards (approx 3m or however wide you want your shelves + a bit)

2 posts ( longer than floor to sealing)

1 wooden broom handle (or wooden dowel)


Jig saw

router (not essential)

hand saw



hand plain


sand paper

that is it no glue or screws or brackets or fixings

Step 1: Design

The basic design-wedge some upright posts between the floor and sealing and hang some shelves of them.

Step 2: Clean Up Reclaimed Wood

The old boards can be quite rough and dirty.

Used some course grit glass paper (60 or 80 Grit) and an electric sander to take of the top layer

Use a plane to get a smother finish (make sure there are no nails or grit that might nick your plain blade)

Use some more sandpaper to get in to all the little bits and smooth it all off

The wood is reclaimed and will have nicks and dents aka character so don't be to fussy they are meant to be rustic

Step 3: Cut Squarish Holes

I made a template out of a scrap of 6mm ply. The template is a square about 10mm bigger than the upright posts

I then marked up each board where the post would be

Drill a hole in each corner then cut out most of the waste with a jig saw

If you are good with a jig saw cut right up to the marked line and then sand to finish

Other wise use a router and the template to finish

Setting up you router (this is optional)

If you want a nice clean edge you can then finish this off with a router

Set your router up with a collar to follow the template.

I had a short router bit so had to do this from both sides

Step 4: Cut the Posts and Drill Some Holes

measure floor to ceiling then minus the thickness for a pad on the top and bottom then minus the space for wedges about another 30-40mm

I used some cut offs from the scaffolding planks as the pads

Cut the 2 posts to length (hight of the ceiling - pads- space for wedges)

For 4 shelves divide the posts in to 5 equal sections (sections = shelves +1) this will be where the middle of the shelf will sit. mark it off (mark 1)

Option, they don't have to be equal you can space them to suit you

Drilling the whole shelf support:

Measure the radius of your wooden dowel (eg 15mm) and half the thickness of your shelf ( 20mm) add them together (35mm)

Measure 35mm down from mark 1 and make another mark this will be your mark wherever you are going to drill the hole for the dowel

Use a spade bit (or other suitable bit) to drill through the post.

Note - i was just using a hand drill and so marked out both sides and drilled halfway from each side so they met in the middle. this will also eliminate any break out that you might get.

Step 5: Pegs and Wedges

cut 8 (2 per shelf) wooden dowels (broom handle) to the same width as your shelf minus about 10mm

cut 8 big wedges at lease 20mm at one end and 5mm at the other. i used 3 wedges on the top of each post.

Step 6: Install

This might be (probably is) a 2 person job, (sorry for the lack of photos for this step)

Lay the 2 floor pads where the shelves will go.

Stack the shelves on the pads

Insert one of the posts with the holes face forwards to backwards

Hold the pad on the ceiling then bang two wedges between the pad and the poles so they overlap. Use two hammers to bang them into place.

Make sure it is all upright using a plumb line or spirit level.

Note - you may need to keep an eye on these as the shelves settle and just tighten up the wedges if needed. (i had no problems with this method but to be a bit safer you could always add fixing to the wall or celling if you like)

Repeat for the second post.

Lift the first shelf up above the first set of shelves insert the pegs and rest the shelf on it.

Repeat for all other shelves.

Check wedges.

Job done.

Now you can fill it with all your stuff.

Step 7: What Happened Next

I moved house.

no problem - I chopped them down in height and in width and wedged them between the wall and the chimney breast

I also made a swing chair out of the off cuts and left over shelves

thanks for reading and hope you like them.


Keep building San Diego

Shelving Contest

Participated in the
Shelving Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Game Design: Student Design Challenge

      Game Design: Student Design Challenge
    • Big and Small Contest

      Big and Small Contest
    • For the Home Contest

      For the Home Contest



    Tip 4 years ago

    I flattened the peg on one side to widen the contact area with the shelves.
    Thanks for the great idea!


    Reply 4 years ago

    looks like a really good job thanks for sharing . looks like you've tied them into the wall with a little L bracket. I think I'm going to need to do that to make sure my little one doesn't pull them over.


    7 years ago

    clever design. I would love something like this


    Reply 7 years ago

    thanks Emily now you know how, you could build some yourself or get some one to help you.

    Razor 911
    Razor 911

    7 years ago

    Great Design


    Reply 7 years ago

    thanks, I like your test tube chandelier - its given me an idea