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Elegant Wall Shelf

Whether you need an elegant display space or practical storage, these shelves will add a decorative touch to your bathroom -- or any room.

 Dark-finish wooden shelf with baluster trim

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools and Materials


  • Table saw
  • Drill and bit set
  • 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer and nail set
  • Clamps
  • Level


  • 3/4" x 2' x 4' oak plywood, #6222
  • 2 - 1" x 2" x 8' red oak boards, #1039
  • 8' stain-grade pine half-round, #4113
  • 2 - 8' stain-grade red oak ply caps, #34940
  • 1-1/4" x 3/8" x 7' stain-grade red oak stop moulding, #34796
  • 2 - 34" red oak balusters, #57904
  • #8 x 1-1/2" flathead wood screws
  • #8 x 3" flathead wood screws
  • 4d (1-1/2") finish nails
  • Elmer's wood filler, #214588
  • Valspar Ultra Premium semigloss, 1 quart, Dark Kettle Black, #4011-2
  • Hangman 18" hanging system, #56378
  • Adhesive-backed bumper pads, #55659

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Project Resources


Begin Assembling the Case

Step 1

Cut the back (A), the top and bottom shelves (B), and the middle shelf (C) to size. Cut the back side trim (D), shelf front trim (E), and shelf side trim (F) to length. Sand the front face of the back and both faces of the shelves with 120-grit followed by 180-grit sandpaper. Repeat for the faces and edges of the trim parts.

Step 2

 Glue, clamp oak trim to shelf

Glue and clamp the shelf front trim (E) to the three shelves (B, C) with the top edge of the trim flush with the top faces of both shelves.

Step 3

  Screw bottom shelf to back

Clamp the top and bottom shelves (B/E) in position on the back (A) and drill pilot holes for #8 x 1-1/2" screws (Bathroom Wall Shelf Project Diagram & Cutting List). To add the 3/4" space between the bottom shelf and the bottom end of the back, cut spacers from 3/4" scraps and clamp them to the back. Then rest the shelf on the spacers for the correct spacing.

Step 4

Glue, clamp, and screw the middle shelf and trim (C/E) to the back.

Good to Know

To keep the middle shelf from sliding out of position on the back, clamp a 20"-long scrap to the back where it will support the middle shelf. Rest the shelf against the scrap while you drill, glue, and screw it in place.

Step 5

 Nail side trim to back, shelves

Glue and nail the back side trim (D) in position and let dry. Repeat for the other side. (Add spacers beneath the shelf edges to keep the assembly stable while nailing.)

Step 6

Glue and nail the shelf side trim (F) to all three shelves (B,C) with the top edge of the trim flush with the top faces of the shelves.

Good to Know

This project requires several small trim parts to be nailed to the plywood back and shelves. If you've considered buying an air compressor and nail gun combo kit, this would be the ideal project for putting a finish nailer to work. Otherwise, drill pilot holes in oak parts with a bit just smaller than your finish nails.

Add the Balusters and Trim

Step 1

 Nail baluster backers to shelf

Cut the baluster backers (G) to length to fit the shelf. Glue and nail them to the side trim (F) and let dry. Note that the one slightly curved edge of the material faces inward and toward the center of the shelf.

Step 2

 Glue, clamp balusters to shelf

Trim equal amounts from the square sections on both ends of each baluster (H) to shorten them to 27" long. Sand the balusters smooth. When sanding turned parts such as the balusters, always sand with the wood grain instead of around the turned parts of the baluster and against the grain. It takes a bit longer, but the results will be smoother. Then glue and clamp them to the backers (G).

Step 3

Attach front mitered trim

Miter-cut one end of a front cap (I) and hold it in position against the top shelf front trim as shown. Mark the opposite end and miter-cut it to length. Then glue and nail the front cap in place. Repeat for the other front cap.

Step 4

Cut 45-degree outside corner miters on both ends of a 12" piece of ply cap. Hold the moulding in position against a baluster with the mitered ends together and mark the length of the baluster side cap (J). Square-cut the baluster side cap to length. Then glue and clamp it in place. Repeat for the other baluster side cap.

Good to Know

Save time by sanding strips of moulding before you cut parts to rough length. It's easier to sand one long part than several short ones and you'll get more consistent results.

Step 5

Cut the side caps (K) to fit snugly between the back side trim (D) and the baluster backers (G). Glue and nail the side caps in place.

Good to Know

When cutting small pieces, plan to cut them from longer pieces of stock to keep fingers a safe distance from the saw blade.

Step 6

Miter-cut four pieces of back horizontal trim (L) and four pieces of back vertical trim (M) to length. Center the mouldings 1-1/2" from the edges of the back and the shelves. Glue and weight the mouldings in place and let dry.

Step 7

Countersink the heads of the nails beneath the wood surface, fill the nail holes and gaps with wood putty, and let dry. Sand the patched areas smooth and sand where needed with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper. Apply two coats of finish.

Step 8

 Dark-finish wooden shelf full view

Center one half of a Hangman bracket along the top end of the back (A), drill pilot holes, and screw it in place. Screw the other half to the wall where you'll mount the shelf (adding wall anchors as needed), add bumpers to the bottom of the back to compensate for the hanging bracket, and hang the shelf.

Good to Know

For a level shelf, rest the hanging bracket on a level at the height you want and mark the mounting hole locations.