Nakashima Style Wall Shelf




Introduction: Nakashima Style Wall Shelf

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This shelf was built to compliment the Nakashima inspired desk that I made. You can check that build out here: The wall shelf was made out of cherry lumber and finished with a coat of boiled linseed oil and several coats of a de-waxed garnet shellac. The joinery method used for the brackets and the stretcher was the bridle joint. The overall length of the shelf is 40 inches with a width of 10 inches. Let me show you how I made it!

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Step 1: Glue Up (laminate) 3/4 Inch Lumber to Get 1 1/2" Thick Pieces.


The stretcher was made by laminating two 3/4 inch thick, 2 inch wide and 36 inch long cherry boards.


I started off with the brackets by gluing up two 10" x 10" boards that were 3/4" thick. This is a little oversized but I take it down to it's final dimensions in the next step.

Step 2: Cut the Stretcher and Brackets to Size

Now that the glue has dried on both the brackets and the stretcher, I cut them to size at the table saw. The dimensions are as follows:

Stretcher: 36 inches long, 2 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches thick

Brackets: 9 1/2 inches wide, 9 1/2 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick

Step 3: Shaping the Brackets

  1. I start by scribing a line with my combination square set at 2 inches on 2 sides of the block. This will get me to the shape of a bracket.
  2. I use a small varnish can to put a gentle curve on the inside of the bracket.
  3. With the combination square set at 5/8 of an inch, I scribe a line on both ends of the bracket to give me an angle that I then cut off over at the miter saw. This design aspect matches the Nakashima desk that I made, so it was important that I included these design elements in the wall shelf.
  4. Over at the band saw I cut the majority of the waste out and then make relief cuts to help the wide blade make the tight curves.
  5. To smooth everything out, I take the brackets to the spindle sander.
  6. With one finished bracket, I lay it on the other bracket block and use it as my template to draw the remaining bracket and repeat the steps above to cut it out.

Step 4: Bracket Joinery

The joinery for the two brackets is pretty simple if you have a table saw and a dado stack. I use the actual stretcher to mark where I need to make the bridle joint

  1. Mark a center line on the stretchers 2 inch side (meaning the I cut a 2 inch "U" shaped joint in the brackets)
  2. Mark a center line on the brackets top at 4 3/4" in from the front edge.
  3. Line the center line up on the stretcher with the center line on the bracket. Use a combination square to make sure the stretcher is square to the bracket.
  4. Mark a line on both sides of the stretcher to indicate where you need to make the cut on the bracket.
  5. With a dado blade in your table saw, remove the waste you outlined in the previous steps. Be careful to not remove too much.

Step 5: Stretcher Joinery

  1. I first start by cutting the stretchers to length at the table saw (36 inches).
  2. With the brackets on the stretcher, I scribe lines to help define where I need to make the bridle cut at the table saw using my dado. With my wall shelf, I have the brackets separated so that the center of the brackets is 24" because the room my shelf went in had the studs in the wall placed that far apart.
  3. And just like the brackets, I used my dado stack at the table saw to remove the waste.
  4. I make the same angled cuts on the ends of the stretcher like I did on the brackets.

Step 6: Glue Up Time!

Before gluing the brackets/stretchers up, I sanded everything with 80,120 and 220 grit sandpaper using my random orbit sander. I follow that up by slapping some glue in the joints on both the stretcher and the brackets and glue this puppy up!

Step 7: All About the Shelf!

  1. I cut the top to width (10 inches) over at the table saw and to length(40 inches) at the miter saw.
  2. Just like every other part on this build, I cut a slight angle on both ends of the wall shelf.
  3. The table saw left a little burning on the edges but nothing a number 4 hand plane can't fix.
  4. Before applying any finish I sand the shelf with 80,120 and 220 grit sandpaper using my sander.

Step 8: Finishing the Wall Shelf

  1. I start by applying a coat of boiled linseed oil. I add about 20% mineral spirits to my boiled linseed oil to help make it thinner so it applies a little easier using the cheap chip brush.
  2. About 20 minutes after I applied the boiled linseed oil, I take a clean cloth and wipe off the excess. I will actually continue to wipe away any excess for the remainder of the day. I let the boiled linseed oil dry for 24 - 48 hours before moving on to the next step.
  3. I brush on 3 coats of the 1.5 pound de-waxed garnet shellac, waiting roughly an hour between coats. 24 hours later I lightly sand the surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the dust nibs I had on the surface and applied a couple more coats of shellac.

Step 9: Drilling the Mounting Holes

  1. Using an 1/8 inch bit, I drilled and countersunk 4 holes in each bracket. 2 holes to connect the shelf and 2 holes to mount the bracket to the wall.
  2. Lastly, I predrilled the shelf for the screws that will be going through the brackets to mount the shelf to the brackets.

Thanks for checking out the wall shelf! Please watch the video to get a better understanding of how I did everything.

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    2 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Very nice, and a great companion piece to the desk. May I ask why you didn't make your glued up blank a little larger and cut both brackets from it? Seems it would've saved time and a lot of that beautiful cherry.


    3 years ago

    Great build based on Nakashima!