Introduction: Feature Shelving Unit for the Lounge

Hi all,

My second instructable. This goes with my first (the rustic table). This shelving unit matches the style of the table design i did a few months back. It looks great with a few quirky ornaments on.

It cost me nothing other than a box of 100 timber coloured screws. The wood was reclaimed from 4 pallets and cut down to size on a mitre saw. Although this could be made with a hand saw if that's all you have.

Step 1: Materials & Tools


Claw hammer

Mitre Saw

Drill + powered screw driver

ruler and tape measure

mid size clamps



wood glue

65mm timber screws

wood filler

clear spray sealer

Step 2: Design

I had a specific place for these shelves. So I based my design on the width of the space. My measurements were;

800mm wide (31.49")

1750mm tall (68.89")

300mm deep (11.81")

the 300mm depth comes from using three pieces of pallet timber that is usually 100mm (4") wide. 68.89" high is a comfortable height to reach the top shelf but not see the dust collecting on the top of the unit! : -).

Draw you design to suit and list all the pieces you need to cut. This way, you can hit the saw and just cut the lot in one go.

Step 3: Pallets

Not that I need to teach anyone to suck eggs but I found a decent way to take apart stubborn pallets. Place a block of timber at the joint of the slat and a couple good hits should get the job done. I moved the block across the slat before each side came off. Save bending the nails and making harder work to remove them later.

The first pic shows a full pallet and the timber yield after disassembly.

Step 4: Cut and Assemble Each Side

To make the sides. I simply figured out a random ish arrangement of timber pieces. Basically taking 2 different lengths and alternating them to create a random look. I also mixed wood from different pallets to create shade variation throughout each face.

When you have laid the pieces out for each side you need to screw a short block the on the opposite plain to the joint as the pics show. This is a relatively weak joint but the later assembly steps will strengthen the frame sufficiently.

Use as many screws as you can comfortably fit in the block. I used 12 screws per block. Remember to drill a pilot hole for each. This will stop the wood splitting.

Step 5: Shelves, So Many Shelves

Now we have the sides we need to attach the top and the bottom. Use 3 pieces of timber for both and screw through into the sides. Don't forget the pilot holes...

As part of the design I worked out how many pieces and what sizes to cut each at to form the shelves. Remember it's three pieces deep so each shelf needs 3 pieces cut to the correct length.

I divided the rectangle in half first. Then divided the top half into two sections again and then divided those into alternating sized spaces. The bottom half was divided the opposite way down the centre to create 2 longer compartments. I had to add two supports at the bottom to hold the shelves where there was not a jointing block already there to support the sides.

When you have all the shelves cut simply start screwing though the sides from the outside into the pieces to secure them until all your shelves are in.

Step 6: Cut and Fix the Back Panel

I then spent a few hours screwing all the back pieces in place. This really gives the unit a stronger frame.

I achieved the look I wanted by fixing the slats the same orientation as the corresponding shelf. So if the shelf was a tiller one, I set the slats going vertical. Smaller shelves were set horizontal. Breaks the shelves up nicely.

Make sure when doing this you allow enough space for the ends to be screwed through the the dividers.

Step 7: Cut and Glue the Boarder

When I finished all the drilling and screwing it was time to attached the boarder. I cut slats into strips of random lengths but all 50mm (1.96") wide. I used clamps to hold the first piece in place for 5 mins while the glue set enough to hold it weight. Then move the clamp the next piece. It took me about an hour to do the boarder this way. The boarder hides the support blocks for the shelves.

Step 8: Sand and Filler

I added filler to some of the joints where the pallet ends were not perfectly square. I used 10 teaspoons of coffee in half a cup of cold water and dabbed it over the filler and some of the lighter wood to give the unit a used, older look...The final step is to sand all the rough bits off. It really makes a difference. I sanded the entire thing with a 120 grit timber sand paper and then smoothed it over with a 160 grit.

Step 9: Finish

The final step is to apply 2 coats of clear sealer to protect the wood. I used a spray can rather than the paint brush applied type. This ensures an even coat all over. 2 coats gave me the colour tone I was looking for. More coats will darken the wood slightly each time.

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