How to make wooden shelving

Written by kimberly caines | 13/05/2017
How to make wooden shelving
Shelves can provide good storage space. (Yellow and green shelves image by Charlie Rosenberg from

Making wooden shelving can help when you need extra storage space. The newly constructed shelves can be placed anywhere in the house. If you place the shelves in a location where people will be able to see them, you want to make sure to use nice looking, good quality materials. If it's out of people's sight, you can easily use cheaper materials. Of course you will need to use a type of wood that is strong and durable. Plywood or particle board are your best options since these are not that expensive. One benefit of making your own shelves is that you will save money that you would have spent buying the furniture.

Decide where in the house you want the shelves. Choose a wall to attach the wooden shelves to. Since you are dealing with wood, stay away from humidity since this can weaken the wood over time.

Find studs behind the wall using a stud finder and mark their location. Place the stud finder on the wall so it can measure its thickness. Slowly move it over the wall to sense a change in thickness. Once sensed, the stud finder notifies you by sound, light or laser. Assure you have a solid base before proceeding; this is essential for the stability of your shelving.

Plan your shelving. Make a blue print of what you want your shelves to look like--which materials you want to use and what your budget for this project will be. Also consider who will be using the shelves. If it's meant for a small child, you might want to make the shelves lower for easy access.

How to make wooden shelving
Use a tape measure to measure the space you are working with. (tape measure ruler image by MichMac from

Measure the area where the shelves will be located. Write the measurements on your blue print. If you are making wooden bookshelves, make sure that large books will fit in the shelves.

Ask your local lumber yard or building supply store to look at your plans to make sure that you haven't left anything out.

How to make wooden shelving
Plenty of nails will be used when building wooden shelving. (nails image by Daniel Dvorak from

Build the frame of your shelving. Aim to make it look like half of a ladder. Clamp short-side horizontal supports to a vertical wooden post leaving the desired amount of shelf space between each shelf. Make sure the side support planks are straight using the level before nailing them to the vertical post. Do this for the left side and right side of the shelving.

Re-assure the location of your studs by moving the stud finder over the marks you had previously made. Nail your short-side horizontal supports to the studs.

Attach the horizontal front and back support planks to the vertical wooden posts following the same method as the short side support planks. Attach the back support planks to studs in the wall. shows that the completed frame features several equally spaced wooden squares that are only missing the plywood.

Cut sheets of plywood for the shelves while wearing safety goggles and gloves. The size of the plywood will depend on the size of your frame.

Nail the plywood to the frame to complete your wooden shelving.


To make free-standing shelves, follow the same process, but use 4 vertical posts.

Tips and warnings

  • To make free-standing shelves, follow the same process, but use 4 vertical posts.

Things you need

  • Stud Finder
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Power Saw
  • Plywood or Particle Board
  • Wooden Posts
  • Quick-Grip Clamps
  • Level
  • Hammer or Nail Gun
  • Nails

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