How to Build a Boat Shelf.




Introduction: How to Build a Boat Shelf.

Hi there. This is my second instructable and I hope you enjoy it. These boat shelves add a nice rustic touch to any room. A very nice place to showcase your pictures or collectibles.

Step 1: Materials...

Hi there. Here is my take on a rustic boat shelf for roughly $40. I hope you enjoy this project. You will need:

5 1x6x6 foot pine

2 strips of floor underlay plywood 1/4 inch cut to 12 inches wide and 52+ inches long

Wood glue

Your choice of Paint for the outside

Clear varathane for the inside

Wood screws


First you must cut 2 1 foot pieces off of 3 of the 6 foot 1x6s for the shelves. On the table saw, rip a 2 inch strip off of 1 of the 1x6s and with what is left over, rip 4 1/2 inck pieces. Save what is left as you can use the rest for another project.

Step 2: The Glue Up.....

Using bar clamps, glue 4 1x6x4 foot pieces together with the 2 inch strip in the centre to get the back of the shelf. This will give you exactly 2 feet across. Also, glue 2 1 foot sections together (x3) to give you 3 shelves. Once the glue dries, cut the shelves down so that their width is 10 inches deep. This will allow for our side rails to fit in nicely later on. I left the base full width for a bit of stability but that is up to you.

Step 3: Creating the Curve....

On the top of your now 2 foot by 4 foot glue up, mark centre and put a finishing nail into it. Now, measure 2 feet down the sides and put a finishing nail as close to the outer edge as possible. By using a piece of thin wood, yard stick etc. place it on one side of the top nail and flex it around the other. This will give you the exact curve on both sides.

Step 4: Curves Drawn...

With the curves drawn and your shelf placement drawn, your ready to cut.

Step 5: Cut the Curves...

Using a jig saw, cut the curves. After they are cut sand the back of your shelf until smooth. You can also just leave it to give it a rustic look if you choose but I like it sanded.

Step 6: Shelves...

Once cut, sand your shelves. One of your shelves will need to have its sides cut on an angle as it will be near the top and into the curve of the boat. To get this angle, roughly place it in it's location and mark it with a pencil. Set your table saw/mitre saw to that angle.

Step 7: Attach Shelves and Sides.....

Secure your shelves in place by using wood glue and screws through the back. Once the shelves are in place, run the strips of plywood up the sides and measure exactly the length. Depending on your curve, your plywood has to be cut accordingly. Mine came out to 52 1/8 inches long. Once cut to proper size, glue and nail your plywood sides on. I used an air nailer but it is not necessary. Clamp the top where the sheets meet. you can use a 1x1 inch piece of scrap to nail into or you can use a glue gun to hold them together if you wish.

Step 8: Rails.....

Using clamps, first glue the inside rails on. You have to measure the length first and cut them accordingly. Once dry, measure and cut the outers. Using your clamps again, glue and clamp the outer rails on.

Step 9: Completing Your Shelf....

If you look closely at the picture, you can see I added a piece at the nose and 2 gussets at the base. This is purely for looks and is optional. I painted mine blue but you can choose whatever color you like. Forest green looks very nice. I put 2 coats of clear varathane on the inside. This shelf is 4 feet high. I have seen 7 foot shelves sell for $450 at a local craft store. You can use this instructable as a guide and make a 7 footer if you choose. I hope you enjoyed my instructable. Thanks for looking.



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16 Discussions

I have always loved this shelf. I couldn’t figure out how to the wood bends. So it’s the flooring plywood that will bend easy. Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to try this!

So I'm a little confused now on the materials. Can you list the materials needed again, please? Or are the ones listed correct? Thank you!

Sorry about the directions. I'll revisit the project and make corrections. The "floor" (back) are 1x4s and you are correct, I used 1x6s for the shelves. Yours looks Great! Good job.

And your shelves are supposed to be 2 foot strips glued together not 1 foot strips. And to do that you need 6 boards not 5.

I think you mean 1x6x6 boards and not 1x4x6


2 years ago

umm, I think this is a copy of an original design by the amazing, logant3030 - (How To Make A Boat With Shelving).

1 reply

I did not copy an original design, however I measured one at a flea/craft market and scaled it down to the size I wanted.

When I saw this I thought of the piles of wood flooring planks at the Re-Store, there is never enough to do a room but plenty for a cool project like this.

Awesome Job! I had cut all the pieces a few years ago and never got around to putting it together. Did you use finishing nails for the trim?

1 reply

Actually I just used good wood glue and clamps. I didn't believe that finishing nails were needed. Thanks for looking!

This is cool. My husband wants to build a doll-sized boat for my niece. I think he can adjust the measurements on this to do that.

Because of the thickness of the strips (1/2 inch) and the fact that the curve is not really severe, Isimply started attaching them at the bottom of the shelf with clamps and worked my way up (carefully) to the top. I have bent wook before by steaming it. I simply put the wood in a 5 gallon pail lifted off the bottom with a can and pur hot water from a kettle in the bottom. I cover the top with a garbage bag. You may have to use several kettles and check the progress in between each one.

Thanks :-) Last time I tried to usee steam to bend wood it wasn't end up very well, so I'll use the thick strips method.