Best inexpensive shelf design...

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by drpdrp posted 04-09-2013 07:28 AM 3094 views 1 time favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View drpdrp's profile


150 posts in 2008 days

04-09-2013 07:28 AM

A proud but poor friend of mine has asked for some help getting her daughter’s room organized. She is willing to let me give her labor- but not money. So, I am looking for shelf design options that are long on shelf-ness, but short on material costs.


12 replies so far

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2324 days

#1 posted 04-09-2013 12:11 PM

Concrete blocks and 2×8’s.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View JoeinGa's profile


7735 posts in 1970 days

#2 posted 04-09-2013 12:17 PM

Plywood… make simple bookcases and paint ‘em

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1821 posts in 1932 days

#3 posted 04-09-2013 12:23 PM

Not sure what type of shelf you are looking for. Book shelf, or simply storage shelf. I built my first ever project to store my books on with only plywood. It was 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Cost about 200 for me to make because I used maple veneered plywood. But that price can probably be cut in half using a lesser grade. If you need some pictures just let me know (bear in mind it was my first project, it’s not on the pretty side). I didn’t even know what a dado was at that point so I used squares of the plywood to create the dados that held the shelf in place. Other than that I did a search and saw this website Might be worth looking at, they can be built to size of the room. And if you use low cost material, probably relatively inexpensive. Hope this helps

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View dhazelton's profile


2753 posts in 2259 days

#4 posted 04-09-2013 12:47 PM

MDF shelving with a 1×2 pine stiffener on the front and L-shaped shelf standards would be dirt cheap. If you want cheaper look on the free section of CL for bookcases.

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 2907 days

#5 posted 04-09-2013 01:56 PM

My first bookcase was built with milk crates and scrap 2×4’s from a building site. Screwed and nailed the 2×4’s together to make each shelf.

I’m sure that you can find scrap lumber enough to make a functioning set of bookcases.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2071 days

#6 posted 04-09-2013 02:51 PM

Depends on what you want them to store. I made relatively sturdy floating shelves almost for free. For the wall mount brackets, I used scrap 3/4 oak; I pocket-screwed “fingers” at intervals along long strips to provide support in a sort of torsion box fashion. For the shelves, I used whatever framing lumber I had laying around to make a hollow box with 1/8” veneered plywood for the tops and bottoms. Then, I glued a cedar frame around the perimeter.

All of this was made with scrap from the Home Depot cull bin. I don’t think it cost more than $5 total.

This is the basic design I used: Except I glued on a cedar wraparound, which added a 1/2” lip to the shelves to prevent items from sliping off.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View NiteWalker's profile


2736 posts in 2539 days

#7 posted 04-09-2013 04:04 PM

Poplar or pine shelves joined with pocket screws.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2297 posts in 2332 days

#8 posted 04-09-2013 04:09 PM

Here’s one I made for my daughter’s closet. We bought canvas bins from target to fit in each square, but that’s optional. Each block is 12”x12”, again, optional. I used 1/2” maple ply from home depot, iron-on edge banding, and pocket-hole joinery, I got it all cut in maybe 3 hours. Finished with walnut dye, sanding sealer, and poly. I think the total cost was under $75 (not including the bins).

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View drpdrp's profile


150 posts in 2008 days

#9 posted 04-14-2013 09:47 AM

Ha! I too did milk crate bookshelves as a young man. Semi-cool story actually. I am a HUGE book nerd. Nowadays I get rid of them as fast as I read them- but as a youngling I thought having a library of my own was awesome. My first place was a 3 bedroom house rented with two room mates- also huge book nerds. We raided multiple local groceries for milk crates and then bought 1×10 or such stock. We had about 70 linear feet of 6 foot high milk crate shelving. Ah the days…

Anyway- I’m enjoying how this project is working out. I trolled Craigslist for a day or so until I found a free entertainment unit somebody had stashed on the side of their house. (I would’ve taken an actual bookshelf too-but beggers can’t be choosers and all). I broke it all down into its component lumber bits and there was a surprisingly large amount of nice straight pine- much in complete glue-ups.

I hope to get it all planned, sanded, and cut Monday. I will post pics here when I am done.

View drpdrp's profile


150 posts in 2008 days

#10 posted 04-19-2013 11:15 PM

Okay- so I trolled Craigslist for a couple days sending emails to any random “real wood” stuff being given away for free. Eventually I hit paydirt with a little TV entertainment unit thing somebody wanted out of the yard.

I picked it up, brought it home, tore it down, cleaned up the wood, and build these! I got 10 shelves out of it. 4 four footers and 6 a little shorter. The shelves are made from the sides and shelves. The supports are made from the sides and backs of the drawers. The apron like part of the support for the 6 are leftover pallet bits. The other four got 1×4 stock I had sitting around from my old workbench.

View Roadmaster's profile


10 posts in 1892 days

#11 posted 04-19-2013 11:25 PM

Nice! I scored an old cedar armoire for free off Craigslist not too long ago. The donor had ripped it in half with a circular saw. After I disassembled it, I made two small projects with it. Still have a ton of wood left over.

-- ./kevin

View drpdrp's profile


150 posts in 2008 days

#12 posted 04-19-2013 11:29 PM

Here are more pics if anyone wants:

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics