Homemade Knickknack Shelves

Written by sarah tidwell
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Homemade Knickknack Shelves
Any multi-unit shelf is suitable for knick-knacks. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Knick-knack shelves differ from standard shelves because they have multiple compartments or layers for displaying small decorative items. Some knick-knack shelves are meant for hanging and others have climbing shelves that rest on the floor. Choose radiate pine for a knick-knack shelf that you will paint but consider fine wood with visually pleasing grain patterns for shelves with a natural or stain finish.

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Repurposing an old wood ladder is an eco-friendly choice for crafting a homemade knick-knack shelf. Search yard sales for a weathered ladder. Disassemble the ladder so you have one side with the steps and the other side with the paint platform. Either side works well as a knick-knack shelf but if you select the side with steps, you may need to adjust them so they are horizontally flat when the frame is resting against a wall. Paint the ladder and secure it to a wall either suspended or while the legs sit on the floor.


A frameless knick-knack shelf exposes the ends of each shelf within the unit at different lengths. Create dome shape shelves in various lengths so that when placed one after the next horizontally and vertically, the edges gradually create a circular knick-knack shelf. Create notches that are the approximate thickness of each wood plank on the opposing edges of horizontal and vertical shelves for interlocking. Paint or stain the wood and allow the coats to dry before hammering the joints together.


Corner shelves display knick-knacks on vertically stacked shelves secured to a foundation corner unit. Create a triangle shape with two long thin wood planks that fit snugly into a corner and attach another long thin plank to the top of each corner slat to form two connecting triangles. Cut triangle shaped shelves to connect to the foundation unit perpendicularly. The depth of each shelf will naturally decrease from the bottom shelf to the top shelf.


A cube knick-knack shelf has multiple units inside the shelf, which is created by joining two basic frame structures. Create a large wood frame that is 1.5ft. on each side and a smaller frame with 1ft. sides. Place the smaller frame inside the larger frame and connect them with small wood slates on each side. When you hang this unit on the wall, various parts of the structure become shelves for knick-knacks. You can make this project larger by adding additional, bigger frames.

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