Build Your Own Wall Unit

Build Your Own Wall Unit – When it comes to life’s biggest tasks, it’s always best to break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks. This is exactly what we have done with our DIY built-ins. Once the basic kitchen cabinets were in place, we sat down to make a plan for the DIY shelves that would sit on top of them. We took measurements, came up with a plan for how we wanted them to look, and made our supply list.

I highly recommend doing this instead of trying to plan everything from the start of a project. It’s funny, because my mother keeps asking me about the next step of the project. “How will you paint them? Do you know the color? What will you use? And I always tell her, “I don’t know yet.” I am taking this baby one step at a time and if I go ahead with myself I get overwhelmed.

Build Your Own Wall Unit

From the beginning of this room makeover, the most intimidating part of the entire project has been building the DIY shelves for this space… from scratch. Some people have asked me why we decided to do this and it’s because we wanted them to be totally customized for the room. We have a vaulted ceiling and it would be super tricky trying to hack existing shelves or IKEA cabinets for this space. Plus, building everything out of wood is so much cheaper! And we just used the IKEA cabinets in our laundry room and were ready for a new challenge (or are we just crazy. Could be that too!).

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I’m happy to report that DIY shelves are standing and we are so proud of ourselves! Let’s dive into everything you need to know to make your own at home.

After taking many measurements, Finn and I came up with the above design. You can see the numbers on the side and top of the chart. Our shelves would be 12 inches deep and we wanted about 16 inches of space between each shelf. I also took out some decorations to make sure I could fit some of my favorite items within those measurements. They adapt to!

Many of you have asked about creating a design plan like this one. I’ve heard great things about the SketchUp program, but have never actually used it. Finn uses Microsoft Excel all day, every day, at work, so preparing something like this only took him fifteen minutes. I’m going to have him write an entire “how-to” post on how to create something similar for your next project!

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Like I said before, we always like to make our list ahead of time and go to Lowe’s during the week before our project. This way, the shop is less crowded and you can get in and out faster. We also had a lot of cuts that we needed done for us in the lumber department and the last thing we wanted was a big line behind us.

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You need so much wood for this project. Even though we just bought an SUV with a huge trunk, we were nervous about packing it all into one trip. My mother was kind enough to come with us and bring her SUV. We finally had the associate at Lowe’s cut some of our wood so we could fit it into cars.

We thought we could fit 4’X 7′ footpegs (we cut off a foot) into the machines, but they were still too big. We ducked our heads in shame and walked back into the shop with all our wood to have it cut again. Thankfully, the employees were so kind and happily obliged.

This is where we first realized we had made a BIG MISTAKE. Since we knew we wanted the depth of each shelf to be 12 inches, we had the store employee cut most of our boards to measure 12 inches wide. We thought this would save us time, but we forgot that store cuts are ROUGH cuts. This means that Lowe’s employee is helping us so much by cutting the boards, but it’s not his job to make EXACT measurements. When we set off to begin our project, we started measuring the boards and they were all a little out of place. Some were too big and some too small.

We marked each one, created stacks, and came up with a new game plan. Our shelves should be 11 3/4 inches deep and we should cut every single piece ourselves to make sure they are all perfect. In fact, we found that many boards didn’t have straight edges (they were cut on each side), so we had to cut each side to get straight edges again. This was such a bummer. If we had to do it all over again, we’d just have him cut off some of the excess so we could fit it in the car and then either do all of our smaller cuts at home or rent a truck to get the full boards home. Lesson learned.

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We ended up doing all of our cutting at the kitchen island because we were cutting such long heavy planks and needed a really secure surface. For the cuts, you’ll need a circular saw (or circular saw), tons of clamps, and a great straight edge. We ended up buying this straight edge for the project and it was a lifesaver. Finn ripped the long planks down to 11 3/4 inches wide and then we took some measurements upstairs for the angled top.

To make the angled cut on the top, we measured the height at the wall and then the height at 12.5 inches from the wall. This made the angle correct so that our wood would follow the same line as the ceiling.

You’ll notice that we’ve added extra vertical pieces to the walls on the left and right sides of the shelves. We did this to make the ends 1 1/2 inches thick, to match the other verticals on the shelves (this will make more sense once we get to the section on adding the poplar trim). These pieces were also 3/4 inch wider than the other upright pieces (because they don’t have a backing like shelves do). I just screwed these pieces right into the wall studs using 2 1/2 inch wood screws.

Finn then made two more vertical pieces for the structure of our bookcases with inclined planes. And then he cut three straight shelves to 11 3/4 inches deep.

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While Finn made the cuts, I took care of the building. Once the first five pieces were cut, I set to work assembling them. I marked the distance for each shelf and then used corner clamps to hold the shelves in place as I secured them.

These clamps are a must for this project. I honestly don’t know how you would build them without them. They create a perfect 90 degree angle and hold it securely in place so you can mount it.

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Then, I drilled in these two inch wood screws to hold it in place. I installed two on each side for each shelf.

As I mentioned in the first part of the built-ins, it’s smart to have two power drills on hand. I had one with a countersunk tip and the other had the point so I could easily drill through the screw. This has saved so much time.

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With the unit shell built, Finn then measured around the back of the bookcase to cut out a stand. We decided to use a stand on ours to make them more secure and stable. I attached the back just like I did the shelves, using wood glue and screws. We then placed it upright, making sure every shelf was level.

Once the backrest was on, we could measure the top of the backrest that will cover the ceiling. It was the same length as the shelves, but greater depth and with angled ends. We found the angle on the ceiling using a protractor and then matched the front and back cuts to that (you can set the angle on the circular saw). It was a bit of a puzzle at first, but we finally got there.

I highly recommend measuring as you go for the vertical pieces because your ceiling may not be perfectly straight and you need those angles right to fit your wood.

It ended up taking three full days to build all four shelves, but we did it! I might find sawdust in our house for next year though…

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With everything built, it was time to attach the DIY bookcases to the wall and to each other. We started to the left and worked our way to the right. We used clamps to secure each shelf together and also used

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