Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Between the Studs Shelves

When I don't blog, I don't check other blogs.  And I miss reading other blogs.  I miss blogging too.  SO what better way to get back into blogging than with a tutorial?  Yay!!
Unfortunately for you, I didn't plan on doing a tutorial so there aren't gobs of pictures, but I will post the link to my pin board that gave me the ideas. http://pinterest.com/smallhousefam/small-house/

So one rainy Saturday found me feeling restless and wanting to play with power tools.  After spending some time on Pinterest looking at built in shelves, I decided to go for it.
My husband hates when that happens.
I have done this before at our condo and made it up as I went along.  This way works much better.

Step 1. First I taped things off so I knew I would like how it looked.  This where some nerdy math comes in handy.  Ever hear of the Golden Rectangle?  I think it is useful with a lot with home improvement/decorating.  Think of this as a sideways wall, I made sure my bookshelves fit within the square a.
 If you want to understand more about this kind of proportion, watch Donald in Mathmagic Land on Youtube.  Link
Moving on....
Step 2.  Drive a nail into the drywall and then pull it out.  Stick a wire clothes hanger (unbent) or something else that will fit in your hole and be easy to move around.  You're checking for wires or pipes or even horizontal 2x4s that might be behind your wall.

Step 3.  After that, score a small square around that hole and knock it out with a hammer.  At this point I like to shine a flashlight and see for myself that all is clear.  Then, cut the opening for your shelves.
On the first hole I scored the drywall with a box cutter and then hit it with a hammer to knock the drywall out.  Then I remembered I have this awesome tool called a jigsaw that can make really straight cuts and do it more quickly.  If you can, do it that way.  Oh, and PLEASE wear a mask and goggles during this.

Step 4. Build your shelves.  I really wish I had pictures, but I'll describe what I did and provide some links for you.
I used 1x4's for my frame, shelves, and trim.  PLEASE make sure they are straight before you buy them.  Ana White has a good tutorial on how to do that (why reinvent the wheel?)
Choose your boards by pretending that the board is an arrow on a bow, and you are shooting the arrow.  Look down the length of the board to make sure it is straight.  Rotate the board to check all sides.  Inspect the board for cracks or other imperfections.  You may want a rustic finish, so some knots or rough patches are fine - it's the straightness and cracks that you need to discard.
 1x4's will split, so be sure to pre-drill everything.  I think I used 1 3/4" screws to attach everything.  I strongly recommend using one or more squares and a small level when assembling so you can make sure everything is square.  It wont be.  But try to get as close as you can.  :)
This is the best drawing for showing how to build your box.  Instead of peg board, I used 1/4" mdf.  At our condo I used beadboard, but I attached it to the rear drywall before attaching the box.  Don't do it that way.  You'll spend all your time caulking the gaps.  Attach your backing to the box.

Be sure to MEASURE your hole.  Studs are usually 16" apart, but there will be variations.  Measure both the top and the bottom.  One of my boxes in 1/2" bigger than the other because of variations.  Then you'll need to remember a 1x4 is really 3/4"x 3 1/2" and you'll need to subtract 1 1/2" from your horizontal pieces for everything to fit.

Step 5.  Once your box is built, you'll attach it to the studs around your hole.  Use a level and maybe an extra set of hands.  I did this while my husband was at work and I was too impatient to wait.  I now recommend waiting.  I used 2" screws to attach to the studs.

Step 6. Attach your trim.  This was the inspiration for 1x4 trim.  For some reason, it wont let me embed the picture.

If you can do 3 it will look better than my two.  But I have wires in the way (see, that's why you check!)  Use a level when attaching your trim.  When I did, I found my shelves weren't completely square.  A sander can help with that.  Paint grade caulk is your friend, too.

Step 7.  Paint! 
Step 8.  Fill with books, pictures, and other things you love.  Paperbacks fit perfectly. 

Ta Da!
Like I said, I didn't plan on posting this originally, so I'm sure there will be lots of questions.  Just comment below and I'll do my best to answer!


  1. Oh my crap that looks incredible. You should come help me do this when the time comes. We're building a house and our builders charge too much to do this sort of work, so I want to do it myself. Nate would probably let me too, if I had a friend like you who had done it before. There'd be cookies in it for you... just sayin'.... and Toby would love playing with your beasties.

    Seriously. Awesome work.

  2. AH-MAZING! Maybe I'll tackle this...maybe. The stairs just about did me in.