How To Make A Cool Rustic Wall Shelf Out of Pallets

Today we’re going to show a step by step guide to building a cool wall shelf out of pallets. Pallet projects are hot right now, and this shelf in particular has a very rustic look that will be sure to have your guests talking.

If you need some help finding free pallets and reclaimed wood for your projects, check out this article.

This tutorial comes from Jake Schmanke, and here is a look at the finished product:

Finished Shelf from pallets

What You’ll Need:

  • Four 36 inch pallet boards
  • Two thicker pieces of reclaimed wood to use as shelves
  • One rustic/vintage hook
  • One thin (1 inch) board to brace the back of the shelf
  • Tape measure [easyazon_link identifier=”B00002X2GQ” locale=”US” tag=”sawguy-20″]here’s the one I like.[/easyazon_link])
  • Compound miter saw ([easyazon_link identifier=”B000V5Z6RG” locale=”US” tag=”sawguy-20″]Here’s our top rated miter saw[/easyazon_link])
  • Pencil for marking measurements
  • Eight 1 inch screws
  • Four 2.5 inch screws
  • 3/32 drill bit

Step By Step Guide:

Step 1: Cut the 4 pallet boards to 36 inches.

Measure the wood

While you may or may not want the boards to be exactly even – you want to start by making them all about 36 inches long. Simply mark the measurements with your pencil, then use your miter saw to make the cuts:

Miter Saw Cut

Step 2: Measure and Mark Shelves

Measure shelves

For the bottom shelf, the design shown only used about 7 inches of shelf. So measure one of your shelves to 7 inches and then cut it. For the top shelf, this design makes it an 11 inch shelf. So cut your second shelf to 11 inches:

Measuring Shelf 2

Step 3: Cut The Shelves

Cut the shelves

While these shelves are 7 inches wide and 11 inches wide, respectively; you could technically make them as long or as short as you’d like, depending on what you plan to hang on them.

Step 4: Mark and Cut The Braces

Marking Braces

Take your one inch scrap board and mark it with a pencil so you can get 2 pieces out of it. As shown below, these 2 pieces are going to be on the back of your shelf and serve as a brace, to make it more stable. In this case, simply mark your scrap board so it is a little less than the width of your shelf. Once you’ve marked it, cut your 1 inch board so you get 2 back braces out of it.

Step 5: Flip Your Pallet Boards Over and Attach The Braces

Flip The Boards

Once you’ve flipped the boards so you are now working on what will be the backside of your shelf, simply put your braces in place and attach them with one inch screws, using at least 3 screws spaced throughout your brace. (Note: places your braces where you plan to put your shelves, as the braces will provide extra support and give you more wood to screw into when you attach the shelves.)

Line up the braces

Attaching boards

Step 6: Level and Mark Your Shelves

Using a small level and your pencil, put your shelves in place on the front of your shelving unit. Remember that your shelves should be directly on top of the braces you attached to the back, so they have extra support. Mark a line on both sides, so you can see where your shelf will be attached.

Level and measure the shelves

Step 7: Pre-drill Your Holes

pre-drill your holes

Flip the shelf on it’s side, and hold your shelf into place firmly – using your pencil marks to make sure you are holding it level and in place. Then, use your drill bit to drill straight through your brace, the shelf back, and the shelving board. Pre-drilling your holes will make putting the screws in a whole lot easier!

Step 8: Screw in One Side of the Shelf

Drill The Screw In

After you’ve drilled the pilot hole, put one of your 2 1/2 inch screws into that hole, which will attach one side of your shelf.

Step 9: Level The Shelf Before Putting In Your Second Screw

Leveling the shelf

By only putting in your first screw, this gives you a chance to pull out a small level and make sure your shelf is perfectly straight, before putting in your second and final 2 1/2 inch screw.

Once it’s confirmed to be level, repeat step 8 on the other side of the shelf, drilling a pilot hole and putting in your second screw.

Step 10: Repeat For Shelf #2

Attach shelf 2

Attach your second shelf following the same steps that you used for the first one – remember that drilling pilot holes will make putting your screws in much easier.

Step 11: Attach Your Rustic Hook

Attach The Hook

One reason for leaving the shelves a little more narrow in this design is so you can add a rustic looking hook to hang a hat, jacket, etc. next to your shelves. If you have one, find a vintage looking hook and simply attach it with a 1 inch screw.

You’re done!

Finished Shelf from pallets

To watch Jake’s video tutorial to making this shelf, please see below:

  • Updated June 20, 2015
  • How To