Introduction: Mug Wall Storage

If your family is anything like mine and you also have a love for coffee or tea then you’ll understand the struggle of finding proper space for all of your mugs. As part of a school project I came up with the idea of making storage on the wall for mugs. While unfortunately we can not fit all of our mugs, we were able to create space for 15 at a time, which is pretty good if I do say so myself. I had assistance from my dad as I was not super confident in making some decisions on my own. He helped with the prep work and material gathering.

Overall the project took about 3 days to do, but ultimately only about 3 hours of actual work time (12 hours of drying stain).


  • 2 1X4X8 poplar wood boards
  • 4 packs of 2 1/4” hooks (there were 4 in each pack)
  • 1 pack of 2” heavy duty stencils (honestly I don’t recommend this, but since I used them I’m including them)
  • 6X1/4” screws (I used 48 but you can use less if need be)
  • 220 grit sandpaper (since I used poplar, I did not need to sand much, but this may change if the wood is different)
  • Chosen stain color (I used Ebony 2178)
  • White paint (I started with a water-based stain then changed to paint)
  • Sponge brushes
  • Any type of saw (yes, even a handsaw can work with this project)
  • Some version of a t-square
  • Drill or screw driver with an end to match the

Step 1: The Prep Work (boring? Yes.)

The prep work involve a few smaller steps, and while they are not the most fun, they are needed.

To begin, you need to measure out the space available to properly gather the needed materials. Afterwards the materials you don’t already have will need purchased or borrowed.

  • Our measurements came out to be 36 inches in height and 20 inches in width. We had originally came to believe we would fit 5 boards in the space, 4 of which would be used for storage, but we actually had room for a 6th board.
  • We used Lowes to gather our supplies, we bought 5 boards of poplar, although only 2 were needed for the project. (My dad decided to make his own for someone else), 4 packs of hooks, and the letter stencils.
  • Everything else we had, except white paint, which we were able to borrow from our neighbor.

Step 2: The Initial Cuts

Here’s the scariest part. Well not knowing how it’s going to turn out is the scariest part, but this is a close second. It’s time to begin cutting the boards to their proper size. Like originally listed you can use a hand saw if that is all you have, but we used both a radial arm saw and a table saw.

Supplies: poplar boards, ruler, radial arm saw, and a table saw

  • Measure out 20 inches three times on a single board. The first three boards will be used as the hanging boards and the last 36 inches will be used as one of the support boards. I used the radial arm saw to do so.
  • Repeat this step again with a second board.
  • I had extra boards to repeat the project on a smaller scale so I also cut two spacers, about 4 inches long.
  • Using the table saw, I cut down the hanging boards from 4 inches in width to 3 inches, I left the support boards alone.

Step 3: Getting It Together

  • It’s time to layout the the boards and begin attaching them to each other. Another scary part as if you’re not careful you can split the boards.

Supplies: screws, drill, cut boards, spacer boards, and a t-square

  • Essentially the layout looks like a short ladder, so start by placing the hanging boards flat on your designated surface.
  • Using either a t-square or ruler, measure out 1 inch from the bottom of the support boards to move the hanging board.
  • Then measure 1 inch from to the outside edges to create an even overhang.

This next part can be done on your own, but I highly recommend having a second person to assist.

  • Double check your measurements and have the second person place pressure on the boards so they don’t move.
  • Drill the screws in until the head barely breaches the surface of the support boards. If you go too far, it’ll come though on the opposite side.
  • Repeat as many times as needed until secure. (I did 4 on each side) Use random placement when screwing them in, if you place them too evenly, you can cause a split or crack in the boards.
  • Using the spacer boards place the next board and screw that down too. Repeat until one hanging board is left.
  • The last board will have to be placed closer than the rest. Measure out 1 1/2 inches before screwing it in.

Step 4: The Pain Before Stain

If there is one thing I wish I would never have to do, it’s sanding. It feels like it takes forever and every time you check it, there is always another spot you missed. But it needs to be done, even with poplar wood.

But first off, prep.

  • While doing the rest of the work I decided to test a couple stains to see what they would look like. I used the spacer pieces to test two separate stains, I ended up going with the darker one.
  • To prepare for a later step, use a ruler to measure out where the hooks will be placed. I placed three on each row spaced 7 inches apart from each other. I found the center first and then went 7 inches in either direction.
  • After marking the spots I used a drill with the same size bit as the hooks and drilled the holes.
  • For sanding I used a 220 grit do go over the holes, edges, and sides. Places where the wood was cut earlier become rough and need just a little bit of work.
  • After sanding I used a tack cloth to pick up any extra stuff left behind.

Step 5: Staining Is a Mess

Many people know that staining, well stains. So make sure to wear gloves and older clothes when staining. I also used an old t-shirt to rub off any extra stain. Sponge brushes are cheap and you don't have to worry too much about them getting ruined by stain.

  • After sanding I moved the project onto cardboard to prevent getting any stains on nearby objects.
  • Using the sponge brushes I stained the everything on the back side first, wiped off the excess and then flipped it.
  • I wasn't too worried in the back looked sloppier as no one would see it. I repeated the staining on the front before leaving it to dry overnight.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

It's the final stretch, the finishing touches. Placing in the hooks and adding the words.

  • Since I went with screw in hooks and drilled the holes for them, they went in quite easily. Even with the holes already there, you have to be careful when screwing in the hooks to keep them straight.
  • I had some goofs with this next part. I used stencils as I was not confident in my ability to free hand lettering but in the end I believe I should have went a separate route.
  • After placing the stencils where I wanted them I used a water based white stain to go over the stencil. I didn't like the look of it and switched it out for normal white paint.
  • The issue came that even with the stencils the stain and paint both bleed underneath causing the stencils to stick to the wood and smear the paint. I plan on going back over the letters with a thick black line to cover up the smears.

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