Rustic Wall Shelf




Introduction: Rustic Wall Shelf

About: Passionate woodworker and web developer. Also own

This rustic wall shelf was inspired by another one of my projects, the rustic trunk with a hidden compartment.
I really liked the look of the pallet wood with the finish on it and wanted to build another piece for my house. This whole project was made out of 1x4 pallet wood that I picked up from a local farmer for 30 cents a board. I bought a few extra pieces to make sure I could pick the best looking boards for the shelf.

Products used to build this shelf
Milescraft doweling jig:

Traditional doweling jig:

Dowel alignment pins:

1/4" dowels:

Minwax spar urethane semi gloss:

Titebond hide glue:


Quick Clamps:

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Choosing the Lumber for This Project

These are the 1x4 pallet boards that I picked up from a local farmer for
30 cents each. They are roughly 3/4" thick but some boards where a little thinner so I had to be a little picky when making the panels.

Step 2: Cutting Panel Pieces to Size

With the ends flush, I strike a line at 26" with my combination square. I use a stop block jig at my miter saw to
ensure that I will get the same length when I cut the boards for the top and bottom panels. For the side panels I move the stop block in for 10" cuts.

Step 3: Dowel Joinery for the Panels

This is the first doweling jig that I used in this project. It's really easy to use, mark a reference line across 2 boards and then line that line up with the white line on the doweling jig and drill. I use a stop collar on my drill bit to make sure I don't drill too deep. The top/bottom panels get 3 dowels in each board and the side panels get 2. This is better explained in the video.

Step 4: Glue the Boards Up to Create the Panels.

With the dowels drilled I put glue on the edges and in the dowel holes and clamp them up.

Step 5: Dowel Jig for 90 Degree Joinery

For the 90 degree joints I switch doweling jigs. I wanted to mention
that you don't need 2 doweling jigs. I just used the other jig because it's faster for edge joining boards to make panels but when it comes to drilling holes on the faces of boards, it can't, so I switch to the milescraft doweling jig(

Step 6: Drill the Holes for the Panel Joinery

I use the self centering pins on the doweling jig to drill holes on the edge of the top/bottom panels. I then place the jig over one of the dowels and slide the fence forward until it touches the board. With the side board laying under the top panel, I drill the holes for the dowels on the face of the board, referencing the dowel holes in the bottom panel.

Step 7: All 4 Corners Joined Up.

All 4 corners have dowels now.

Step 8: L Shaped Bracket to House the Drawer

Next I build the little "L" shaped bracket that will house the drawer. I cut the pieces to size at the table saw. And just like before, I use the doweling jig to first drill holes in the edge of the smaller board and then reference those dowels for drilling on the larger bracket piece.

Time to glue up the bracket. I used titebond hide glue on the whole project.

Step 9:

To determine where I need to drill holes in the shelf panels, I use these little metal dowel alignment pins that slide into the dowel hole and have a centered point on the other end. I put the bracket where I want it to go and give it a good tap. These are the indentations that the alignment pins leave.

With the depth collar adjusted on my drill bit, I drill the holes for the dowels in the shelf.

Step 10: Sand Before Glue Up

Before gluing the shelf up, I sand everything with 180 grit sandpaper. This removes any lose dirt or grime, but leaves the rustic appearance.

Step 11:

The glue up on this case will need to be done in a certain order. I started by gluing the dowels in the ends of the top/bottom panels, then I glued on the right wall, then the L shaped bracket, top was next and then the left wall.

Threw a few clamps on to make sure everything came together.

Step 12: Cut the Pieces for the Top and Glue Them Together to Make the Panel

While the glue was drying on the shelf, I cut 3 boards to length at the table saw for the top.

I didn't use dowels to reinforce the top because i'm going to glue the top to the shelf which doesn't need any support.

Step 13: Make the French Cleat to Hang the Cabinet

While everything was drying, I went ahead and cut my french cleat. I tilted my table saw blade to 45 degrees and rip a board in half.

Step 14: Attach the Cleat and Top

To attach the cleat to the shelf, I first glued it in place and then used a few screws to reinforce it. Don't worry about the screws showing because the top gets glued on the shelf sub top which will hide the screw holes.

With everything dried, I go ahead and glue the top on just using the same hide glue. With the top evenly spaced, I put a few clamps on to keep it in place until the glue dries.

Step 15: Cut the Drawer Box Pieces at the Table Saw

I move on to the drawer and cut the boards to width at the table saw.

Step 16: Cut the Joinery for the Drawer Sides

The drawer front has a groove on the ends that the drawer sides will be glued to, so to cut that, I use my miter gauge at the table saw and slowly remove the waste with multiple passes.

Step 17: Cut Groove for Drawer Bottom

To cut the groove in the bottom of the drawer parts for the drawer bottom, I set my table saw fence to 1/4" and raise the saw blade to 1/8" and make a pass. I then move my fence over 1/8" and make another pass. This gave me a 1/4" groove 1/8" deep for the drawer bottom. Next I cut the drawer bottom to size at the table saw.

Step 18: Glue Up the Drawer

I apply glue to the grooves for the drawer sides and clamp them up. When the glue dried, I cut the drawer back panel and glued it between the left and right drawer sides.

Step 19: Brass Pins for Looks and Strength

To reinforce the drawer joinery, I drilled an 1/8" hole and glued in brass pins. This not only makes it stronger, but the brass looks great with the cherry lumber.

Step 20: Apply the Finish

I used a semi-gloss spar urethane from minwax on this project. I brushed on 2 coats, without sanding in between.

Step 21: Attach Brass Knob

And finally, I installed a brass knob on the drawer front.

Step 22: Hang the Shelf

To hang the shelf, I hung the french cleat on the wall, making sure to drill in to the studs. And then slid the shelf over the french cleat. This is a great way to hang things like this. Thanks for checking my shelf out, I really appreciate it! Check out my YouTube channel where I post build videos like this.

Be the First to Share


    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest
    • Silly Hats Speed Challenge

      Silly Hats Speed Challenge
    • First Time Author Contest

      First Time Author Contest

    2 Discussions

    I like the drawer. It adds a really nice touch, and I like the design!


    Reply 3 years ago