I needed a new hanging bedside shelf because the one I used to have, which I built many years ago, was just driving me crazy. Every time I bumped it it would fall down and all my stuff would fall under the bed. It was also not the most pretty thing and there was no way to rest my earbuds on it either without them slipping off. So, I decided to build a new and improved bedside hanging shelf that would look nice (modern and rustic), and also solve all my previous problems and add cool features. I am going to show you the step by step process for how I built the shelf.
Step 1: Find the Materials That You Plan to Use.
Before I drew the plans for the shelf, I needed to pick out the wood that I was going to use for the project. Because I was going for a rustic look, I decided to use only pallet wood; some pieces being nicer then others. I needed four pieces: one for the top shelf, another for the bottom, one for the two sides, and--optionally of course--a small piece for an iPod charging stand. These are the four pieces that I choose.
Step 2: Draw Out and Measure the Plan.
After I picked out the wood I needed, it was time to draw the plans with the height and width that I needed. I plan to build the shelf about 8 inches tall and 1 foot wide. You, of course, can make your shelf as high and as wide as you want, depending on what material you plan to use it for. I do not know what I want the width of the sides of the shelf to be yet. I will decide them after I cut the dadoes for the sides.
Step 3: Flatten One Edge of All the Boards So That the Shelf Will Lie Flush Against the Wall.
We want to flatten one side of all the boards so that the whole shelf will lie flat against the wall. There are many method for flattening the edge of a board, but the one that I used was a router table (pic. 1). One side of the router fence needs to stick out only a slight bit more than the side on the other side of the router. Make sure the trim bit bearing is aligned with the side of the fence that protrudes more (pic 3). Then keeping the work-piece pressured against the fence at all times, slide the work-piece from the less protruding side of the router (pic. 4) to the side of the fence that is protruding. It may take one to four passes to flatten the edge perfectly (pic 6).
Step 4: Square the Short Sides of All the Boards
Now we need all the short sides of all the boards squared with the side we just flattened. You can accomplish this with a miter saw, and table saw sled (pic 1), or a quick square and circular saw; I will use a sled. The important thing to remember here is to make sure that you square the sides with the long sides that you just flattened (pic. 3).
Step 5: Cut the Bottom Shelf to Proper Width
Here, I am cutting the bottom shelf smaller because I want it smaller then the top shelf and because I want to cut off that ugly gouge. The wood you use, however, might not have any spots like this.
Step 6: Cut the Shelves to Proper Length
On my plan it says that I want the shelves 1 foot wide. So using the table sled and a stop block, I will cut both boards to the exact same length. This is an easy step, but also a very important step. Without the boards being the same length it will be very hard to cut the dado slots exactly the same as the other shelf and make the shelf not square.
Step 7: Measure the Thickness of the Sides
The thickness of my board is a slight bit smaller than 1/2 inch, but yours might be different. Now we know what size router bit to use; 1/2 inch. I will test it though on a scrap piece of wood before I actually cut the boards I'm using.
Step 8: Cut the Four Dado Slots for the Shelf Sides.
Now it's time to cut the dadoes for the shelf sides to fit in. The first thing I did was raise the router bit to about 1/4 of an inch (pic. 1). The second thing was add a stop block (pic.2) to make sure that the router didn't cut too far and would always cut the same. Position the stop block according to how wide you want your shelf sides. Now you can cut one slot on each shelf cutting perpendicularly on the flattened side and moving away form it. To cut the other two slots, put the stop block the same distance as it was but on the other side of the router bit (pic.4). Now you can cut the last two dadoes on the shelves the same way as before but backwards (pic.5).
Step 9: Trim the Rounded Part of the Dado Slots With a Chisel.
My preferred method for squaring and trimming the dadoes is using a chisel and mallet. Place the chisel where you want it and simply hammer it down with the mallet to the desired depth. Also, with the chisel you can trim the tear-out by making light passes over the tear out with the chisel. The slower you go when cutting the dadoes the less tear-out you will get. If the dado slots are a little bit too big for the sides of the shelves, it's okay. I think it makes the whole thing look more homemade, rustic, and natural.
Step 10: Make the Earbud Holder: Optional
The first thing to making the holder for the earbuds is to copy the dado lines from the bottom side of the top shelf to the top side to make a reference line (pic. 1). Now that we have a reference line, we can mark where the holder holes will be (pic. 1). Then cut a shallow hole with a 1/2 in. drill bit to make it so that the earbuds will stay on the holder (pic. 3). Now with a drill bit that is slightly wider than the earbud (pic 4), drill two holes all the way through this time (pic. 5). The last step is cutting out the wood to allow the earbuds to rest on the holder. With any kind of saw, or chisel, cut the two pieces out (pic. 6).
Step 11: Cut the Shelf Sides to the Desired Length and Width
The first thing to cutting the boards to proper size, is to measure the length of the dadoes. The length of my dadoes are about 3 1/4 inches long (pic. 1) so I will cut the sides of the shelf a little bit more than 3 1/4 inches wide to be safe, and then I will cut it smaller little by little. (pic. 2). Secondly, to cut the sides to proper length, we first measure the length of the board on then cut it in half. The length of my board is about 16 inches (pic.3) so I will cut the sides a little bit less than 8 inches long using the table saw sled (pic.4 and 5).
Step 12: Sand Everything
Sand everything. It is important to sand everything now, before it's all glued together and much harder to sand effectively.
Step 13: Glue It Together
Assemble everything to make sure it all fits together in the way you want it to, then lie it all on the workbench with the sides that you are going to glue facing up (pic. 1). Now with your preferred brand of glue, squirt a bead of glue on all of the dado slots (pic. 2 and 3). Next clamp it together firmly and then preferably make sure that it's square using a quick square (pic. 4 and 5). Let it dry for a minimum of one hour.
Step 14: Figure Out a Way to Hang It on the Wall
There are many, many methods to hang a shelf on a wall, but my preferred way to hang it on the wall--and also help with coating it with finish--is putting nails backwards into the backside (pic. 5). To do this I first mark where I want to drill the reference holes which will be smaller than the nails (pic.2). Once you mark the spots, find a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the nails you intend to use (pic.3), and drill the holes for the nails and then hammer them in backwards (pic.5).
Step 15: Add a Finishing Coat
The finishing coat is the last step except for putting it on the wall. I am using 100% tung oil, which is extremely beautiful, in my opinion, but you can use what works best for you. Obviously, this shelf does not need any waterproof resistance coatings or anything; we just want to add something that makes the grain pop, shine out, and look more warm. To apply the tung oil, I poured the oil onto the wood a little at a time and then wiped it everywhere else with a piece of cloth that I ripped off an old t-shirt.
Step 16: Hang It on the Wall and Enjoy It.
Having the location in mind, press the shelf on the wall with only enough force to hold it there. With a torpedo level (pic. 1 and 2), or any level that you have, level the whole shelf so that nothing will easily roll around on it. Once you have it level, softly hammer it into the wall with a mallet. Once your done with this step, you are now done with the whole thing except for enjoying it and filling it with your bedtime accessories.