Rustic Dry Goods Shelf




About: Essentially a snowbird woodworker (unairconditioned garage in Phoenix = other hobbies when it's hot) with an engineering day job. Love the community here, probably visit this site at least once a day. Keep...

I needed a way to hold and display our dry goods in mason and Weck jars. The old system of had a couple milk crates turned on their side, and just wasn't cutting it. I went for a rustic look by using reclaimed barn siding and salvaged hardwood flooring. With this shelf I now have plenty of room to store the rice, beans, corn meal, and occasional butternut squash.

This was a fairly simple project that requires a drill, table saw, planer, and miter saw. Of course this can all be done with hand tools as well if that's your thing.

Read on to see how I put it all together!

Step 1: Prep Material and Layout Height

One of the constraints of working with reclaimed or salvaged wood is your're often limited to what's on hand. There's no getting second piece that will match perfectly. For me this means the shelves vary in depth from the bottom at 8", middle two are 7", and top is only 5".

The width was determined by my wall where I had two light switches present. I gave two inches of clearance around the plates which left a 45" span for the shelves.

All boards were lightly planed to bring the faces fairly smooth but still keeping the defects present in the reclaimed wood. All edges squared up on the table and miter saw.

I find by laying out the boards with some of the actual jars I can find the best spacing. What looked proportional came out to 36" tall, and as a sanity check I mocked it up with chalk in it's final placement.

My design intent is to have some of our pans hanging below the shelves so I made to sure give them enough clearance but still keep the top shelf accessible.

Step 2: Assemble the Sides

The sides were made from salvaged hardwood flooring, and by utilizing the existing tongue and groove it makes assembly really easy. Three boards give enough width, and I found enough long planks to keep the outer rails one solid piece. After gluing together I trimmed off the unused tongue and groove for clean edges.

Offcuts from the horizontal shelves were used as cleats on the side panels. A decorative chamfer was cut on each cleat and then was glued and screwed based on the spacing determined earlier. Make sure to drill the through and pilot holes along with countersink to keep everything from splitting.

Some may have chosen to use a joinery method that would hide the fasteners, but I liked the look of the square drive screws so I left them exposed.

A quick check against my layout confirms we're ready to assemble.

Step 3: Assemble the Shelf!

The horizontal shelves are glued and screwed to the cleats. The cleats keep everything spaced vertically, but I needed some extra clamps to hold everything square for the first few shelves.

Once again the screws are left exposed, but you barely notice them when the shelf is filled.

Step 4: Apply a Finish

I really love the soft look of Tung oil on rustic pieces. The oil really highlights some of sawmill marks and the patina is gorgeous. Two coats was sufficient. I'm mostly looking for the color.

Step 5: Add Rails and Attach to Wall

A 3/4" piece of hardwood serves as a horizontal wall cleat that runs the lengh of the top shelf. Before installing to the wall, I clamped it to the shelf and pre-drilled all my pilot and through holes. The cleat was then mounted to the wall with plastic anchors and #10 brass screws. Screws attach the shelf to the wall cleat in the previously drilled holes.

I added a 3/4" rail out of the hardwood flooring along the front of the shelves to keep jars from walking off.

Step 6: Hang the Pans and Fill the Shelf

I installed simple hook hangers (the same color as the screws of course) but used a hacksaw to cut off the tapered threaded portion of the screw. This will give the maximum engagement of threads in the ~3/4" shelf, without having a sharp point stick out the top.

I've been really happy with how the shelves turned out, they're a huge improvement over the old milk crates.

Now everything is nice and visible and I'm more likely to make recipes from scratch!

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    7 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Nice! Here's another option: take drawers from abandoned cabinets and turn them into shelves. When I remodeled my kitchen I did this with shallow drawers for spice jars and deeper drawers for canning jars and such-sized containers. They are mounted to the wall with a version of a French-cleat. I did these before I knew about Instructables or I'd have done a step-by-step. I have a few more drawers to re-purpose so if/when I get around to them . . . . right! There are Instructables about repurposing drawers that can give anyone who's interested enough info to get started -- and finish! It really is astounding how lovely foodstuff stored in jars can be when kept in view -- and how much more positive reinforcement of scratch cooking methods can you get than looking at what you're starting with?

    Shelves beside Kitchen Window -- Repurposed 14x19 drawers from old cabinets, 12.24.2015 (2).JPGShelves for Spices -- Repurposed 19x23 shallow drawers from old cabinets, 12.24.2015 (1).JPG
    Team Z

    3 years ago

    Well done, fits perfectly to the wall.

    1 reply
    skitzTeam Z

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! This walkway was too narrow for more cabinets, but the shelf hugs the wall and gives us tons more storage. Was glad I could use the majority of the wall.


    3 years ago

    Great rustic look!
    You've also managed to reduce the size of your shopping list - another bonus ;)

    1 reply
    skitzDIY Hacks and How Tos

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! I actually made a spice rack out of the same hardwood flooring for the opposite wall. Nice and narrow to fit a single row of bottles.