How to build alcove shelving

Updated February 21, 2017

Alcove shelving is arguably the easiest and fastest do-it-yourself shelf project. Well within the reach of even novice woodworkers, the entire project will take under an hour if you don't stain or paint the wood. If you do stain or paint, you'll be done in an afternoon. You can use this shelving method in any narrow space, such as a kitchen alcove, deep bay window or reach-in closet.

Decide how many shelves you need. In most cases, you should space your shelves 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 inches) apart.

Measure the width of your alcove space. Cut your 2.5 by 30 cm (1 by 12 inch) planks to 6 mm (1/4 inch) shorter than that distance. Cut one plank per shelf.

Cut your 2.5 cm by 5 cm (1 by 2 inch) strips to 40 cm (16 inches) long each, cutting two strips per shelf.

Sand all faces of your lumber. If you want to paint or stain your shelves, do so at this point.

Mount one strip to the right-hand wall of the alcove by nailing it to the wall studs. A 40 cm (16 inch) long strip should cross two studs. Use the level to make sure you have an even mount. If you plan to store heavy objects on the shelf, screw the strip into the wall for added security.

Mount another strip opposite the first strip, hung on the left-hand wall of the alcove at the same height.

Lay one plank in so its edges rest on and are supported by both strips. Gravity and the weight of stored items will keep it in place, but you can nail it down if you want to.

Repeat steps 5 to 7 for each additional shelf you want to add.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden planks, 2.5 by 30 cm (1 inch by 12 inches)
  • Wooden strips, 2.5 by 5 cm (1 inch by 2 inches)
  • Measuring tape
  • Power saw
  • Nails, 5 cm (2 inches) long
  • Hammer or nail gun
  • Level
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint or stain (optional)
  • Paintbrush (optional)
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About the Author

Jason Brick has written professionally since 1994. His work has appeared in numerous venues including "Hand Held Crime" and "Black Belt Magazine." He has completed hundreds of technical and business articles, and came to full-time writing after a long career teaching martial arts. Brick received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Oregon.