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11 Simple DIY Shelves

When is the last time you went shopping for a new shelf at the store only to find a lot of cheaply made boring looking shelves or top dollar prices on the real wood shelves at the thrift store?

If you have just a few tools, a minimal set of skills, and a wild imagination, you can create the perfect shelf for just pennies on the dollar. 

1. A-frame or Ladder Shelf

Here is the basic construction to build an A-frame shelf from scratch unless you prefer to just add shelves to a wooden ladder.

A wooden ladder shelve

Image: A Pair And A Spare

For shoes and accessories that are worthy of framing.

A ladder shelve

Image: Kathleen Steinlicht

A-frame used for storing all the wood for your other shelf projects; Can also be used to store gift wrapping supplies; gardening supplies, food, and tools.

2. Glued Wooden Box Shelves

DIY Box Shelves

Image: Small House Decor

Super thin pieces of wood, plywood, recycled pallet wood, ground stakes, or thick cardboard glued together. Screw in S-hooks or glue on suction-cup hooks for hanging things (like the shelf itself). Or you can make the bottom level and set on top of your bookshelf for tiny knick knacks or your kitchen or bathroom counter for storing all of those tiny spice bottles or nail polishes.

3. Kid’s Homework and Art desk

Homework art desk

Image: Pinterest, Lainey S.

Made from repurposed dresser drawer, wall shelf, book shelf, medicine cabinet, or kitchen cabinet.

4. Kitchen bar or plant shelf

Kitchen Bar Desk

Image: Kitchen 10 Edit

Repurposed wall shelf, book shelf, or made from scratch; kitchen dining space for kids, place to keep plants by the window, napping and sunbathing spot for kitties, or could be made sturdy and placed higher for adult dining in a tight kitchen.

5. Board game shelves

Board game shelves

Image: Joyful homemaking

Use your old board games or purchase some that are missing pieces from a yard sale or thrift store. Screw or glue the bottom piece onto shelf brackets. If you don’t like the board game picture, then use a book or paste on calendar pictures or magazine scraps that you do like. For extra pizzazz, use wrapping paper to match the season and holiday. These shelves can also be hung from hooks and string and you can run string between the two sides until you get a straight angle.

6. Cardboard shelf boxes

Cardboard shelf boxes

Image: Joyful homemaking

Take sturdy old diaper boxes or printing paper, or get extra boxes from your local grocery store and wrap in wrapping paper or cloth, attach labels and use for toy storage, office supplies, or even your pantry for extra packets of sauce or gravy mix. As your baby outgrows his or her clothes, you can store them in the old diaper boxes to help you remember the size and to make sorting easier for loved ones or donation centers.

7. Cardboard or coroplast Shelf

Cardboard or coroplast Shelf

Image: Thrifty Mama

Take those old cardboard boxes that you have laying around in the garage or basement and glue or tape them together. Next, paint or wrap in pretty cloth or wrapping paper for storing light weight items. I made a shoe shelf similar to this one using extra scrap pieces of floorboard panels.

8. Mason block Shelves

Mason block Shelves

Image: Thrifty Mama

Although I don’t care for the choice of colors, this simple mason block, and board shelf design is one of my favorite DIY shelves. This looks fantastic in a (child-free) home, garage, patio, or entertainment room. I made one several years ago and I painted the blocks black and stained the wood boards in golden oak and used it as my entertainment center. The DVDs and video games fit perfectly inside the block holes.

9. Hanging chain shelf

Hanging chain shelf

image: Apartment Living Decor

This hanging shelf is the perfect option for walls or apartment buildings that you cannot hang things from. Plus, a series of these make a great visual and functional divider in wide open floor spaces and an awesome plant hanger in front of a window or hanging from a patio ceiling beam.

chain shelve

Image: Apartment Living Decor

Simple installation for only a few bucks. Step 1: Attach a long bolt to the bottom of each board with brackets; Step 2: Insert bolt or threaded rod ends into a chain link; Step 3: Screw on nuts.

10. Pallet shelves

Pallet shelve

Image: Mom’s Money Makers

This is one of the cheapest and easiest shelf designs that you can make yourself. Go to your local hardware store, lumber supply store, or grocery store and ask them for any of their old busted up or broken down pallets. Some of the time they will sell them to you for a few pennies, but most of the time they will give them to you for free or you can rescue them from someone else’s unwanted treasure (i.e., dumpster).

Step 1: Decide where you want to cut the pallet, based on your desired design or any damaged pieces;

Step 2: Cut straight across (or stepped, depending on your design);

Step 3: Sand the pallet surfaces and cut edges smooth as there are usually a lot of splinters on used pallets;

Step 4: Stain, paint, or wrap in cloth;

Step 4: Hang;

Step 5: Decorate;

Step 6: Enjoy!

11. Repurposed wood or pallet shelf

Pallet Shelf

Image: City Barn

This pretty, rustic-looking shelf can be made from salvaged river wood or repurposed pallet wood and is really easy to assemble. Set all of your pieces of wood into place using thin wooden slats (like yard stakes or painting stirrers). Attach wood and shelves using nails, screws, or wood glue. Decorate nicely and hang indoors or out.

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The Ins and Outs of Vertical Gardening

Thursday 6th of July 2017

[…] Using a few special cuts, you can really create some interesting wall gardens with upcycled, scrap pallets. […]

Constance Guerrero

Tuesday 23rd of May 2017

Number 2 is amazing and serves my purposes very well!


Friday 19th of May 2017

I'm trying to pin this post, but out of luck getting a picture. Any help correcting this is appreciated.


Wednesday 24th of May 2017

works fine for me :)


Friday 19th of May 2017

It works for me, you can use the bottom social media share buttons or left side sharing, they both work. It looks like each image has a pinterest share button as well, so if you hover over an image, you will see it. I hope this helps :)

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