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Easily Build Decorative Shelves Using Basic Tools

This article will explain how to build a 4 foot long decorative shelf using basic woodworking tools including a cordless drill. I use Dewalt cordless drills for several reasons. First, I have found that they have the longest lasting batteries. I build these shelves for a living, and can build 10 or more shelves on one charge. They have the most power, and the depth settings actually work. Now let us get to building the shelf.

The first thing is to pick your wood, I use mostly pine but some customers prefer cedar. You will want to pick up one 1 X 6 board that is 10 feet in length. Make sure the board is straight, no bows or twist, or it will be more difficult to put the shelf together. I choose boards that have no chunks out of the wood, no cracks, splits, and not too many knots. While picking out your lumber pick up 5 shaker pegs, and some 1 5/8 inch wood screws, it takes 8 to ten for the shelf. Once you have chosen your wood it is time to go to the shop and start building.

Take your board and cut two 4 foot pieces, one will be the back, one will be the top, and the leftover 2 feet will be used to cut the brackets. I choose the best of the two 4 foot boards as the back since it will be seen the most. Most of my customers want designs cut into the back of their shelf, but it is not necessary. I have made heart, star, horses, and many other patterns that I cut into the back of the shelves I build. If you want you can choose a pattern and lay them out evenly along the backboard and cut them out with a jigsaw. If not it is time to add the pegs.

Measure and lay out your pegs, I usually put in four pegs, one every 10 inches. Once you have decided on peg location drill the holes for the pegs. You will need your Dewalt cordless drill and a 3/8 inch drill bit. Drill the hole about half way through the back board. Once you have this done it is time to cut your brackets. Lay the back and top boards in the fashion that they will be when constructed. Hold the leftover piece of board in the corner of the shelf and draw out a bracket. Use a jigsaw to cut the brackets out.

Now it is time for assembly of the shelf. Make a mark on the back of the board 4 inches from each edge, this is how far in I put the brackets from the edges. Use clamps to hold the brackets in place and turn the back board over. Here I use two drills, one has a 5/16 Th inch bit for pre-drilling holes, the other has a Phillips head bit for driving the wood screws. Pre-drill two holes into the back of each bracket then attach them to the back board using the wood screws. Remove the clamps, turn the back board over and lay it on a flat surface with the brackets facing up. I now line up the top board and clamp it into place.

Now start at one end of the shelf, make sure everything is lined up, pre-drill a hole in the corner for your first screw. Once this is done use the drill to insert a wood screw, I put in a screw about every 10 inches. If your board is warped it may take an extra screw or two. Once this is done use your drill to make two more pilot holes for the brackets, one in each. Once the pilot holes are drilled shoot a wood screw through the top board into the brackets. Remove the clamps and you have just completed a 4 foot decorative shelf using a Dewalt cordless drill.