{Tutorial} Modular Shelves

Modular Shelf via SewWoodsy.com
Here is the third blog post from the construction of the craft room! Mr. Woodsy has written a tutorial on how to make modular shelves for just about any space. These just happened to be made for my craft room!
Without further ado… here is Mr. Woodsy to walk you through building modular shelves.
Measure the area where you will be installing the shelving. Next, get an inventory of materials or products that you will be storing on the shelves. Draw up plans of how you want it to look.
For the shelves I glued and then nailed all joints. I only glued the vertical dividers that lined up on the top shelves with the other vertical dividers. Make sure you clamp all joints and all of you corners are square. 
Once the glue is dry remove clamps and use wood filler to fill nail holes or other imperfections in the wood. Typically, I wait a day until the wood filler is dry. Then I’ll start sanding all the shelves with 150 grit sand paper. After I’ve sanded with the 150 grit sand paper I’ll run the sander over the shelves again with at least 250 grit to get a smooth finish. 

 For the backing of the shelving make sure all joints and boards sit flat, so once you install the bead board you don’t have gaps between the shelving and the bead board. This will help with the instillation of the shelving and it will sit flat to the wall. Because I don’t own a jointer I used a rasp and a hand planer to fix the uneven sections of the shelves.

If you want to paint your shelves, do it now before the backing is installed. I used two coats of flat white pant followed by two coats of Poly-Acrylic (painted on with a brush and not a roller).  

Prior to hanging the shelves I installed a ¾ by ¾ inch wood brace to the top and bottom of the shelves that I glued and nailed directly onto them. (*After hanging the shelves I wish I would have cut to the inside dimension then nailed and glued the braces on the inside of the shelving unit.) 
Locate and mark your studs for a secure fix to the wall.

Figure out the best placement and height for your new shelving. Standard height is 16 inches (I’m thinking that’s the magic number).

That’s right… Mrs. Woodsy helped out.  She had to help hold up the shelves while I decided whether or not I liked the distance from the desk to the shelves! 

Once you decide on your height all you have left is to drill your holes, install anchors, and screw it to the wall. 

(Ribbon rack to the left and stamp rack to the right.) 
For my stamp shelves, I needed the shelves to be only a few inches apart. I also set it up, so the spacing would get larger toward the top (for larger items). I measured the space of my area, and cut strips of ¾ inch pine to 3-1/2 inches two for my vertical sides and two for my horizontal pieces top and bottom. Once I had the rectangle box shape, I took the inside dimension and divided that by the spacing I wanted of 3 inch shelves. This gave my spacing for how many shelves I would need to cut.

Remember to subtract the 3/8 inch thickness for each shelf that you install. I cut my 3/8 inch BC plywood shelves (8) @ 3-1/2 inch depth and the width, whatever the size of your box and 3/4 inch to the length of the shelf (3/8″ each side) if you want them to be removable. If not just cut it to the inside dimensional width and glue and nail.

Next take the vertical pieces mark out the spacing of the shelves then take those boards either to the router table or the table saw with a 3/8 inch bit or dado blade, and cut the shelving slots. Now check your slots for easy install and removal. Your almost done; just glue and nail the sides and the top, and the bottom using a butt joint, and install a backing if desired. Always paint the shelves prior to installing backing. I used bead board measured to the exterior dimensions of the rectangle box and pin nailed to the back of the shelf.

 Hang the shelf on the wall, and fill it with stamps. 

When Mrs. Woodsy wasn’t taking pictures she was sitting in the chair with Lola, comforting her, and (pretending to) manage the project. 

Here is what the finished shelves look like. 

And a few month’s later… the shelves are all filled up! 


  1. Oh my goodness! Your craft space looks wonderful, I just love how everything is right there within arms reach!

    Great work!

  2. Wow Katie–I didn't realize that Jon built those! He did a great job. I'm not sure you should be advertising his mad skills–we're all going to hire him to come over and help us out with our home projects! 🙂

  3. This is awesome!! I love how it looks!!

  4. Saraccino says:

    Oh… could you two come over to me and build some more for me? 🙂 Just across the ocean! ^^

  5. Wow, those shelves are awesome!! Your craft space is drool worthy.

  6. Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking says:

    Great job! Love the beadboard backing, it just finishes it off so nicely. It's so nice to be able to make your own because they can fit the space you have and hold the things you want them to. Three cheers for Mr. Woodsy!

  7. Holy cow, I wish my craft room looked like that. Its fantastic!!

  8. Stephanie says:

    Those shelves are awesome! I would LOVE to have a craft space like that!

  9. Shelley says:

    Love the shelves. Can I borrow your Mr. Woodsy, mine can't even get a cupboard door put up in 3 yrs. GRRR!! I love him that man 🙂
    Following from the blog hop.

  10. Annie @ Wattlebird says:

    Looks amazing! Wish I had that skill 🙂

  11. Elisabeth says:

    Wow, I'm drooling over your organized shelves and craft space, Katie. Thanks so much for commenting on my blog–I'm thrilled to know about Sew Woodsy!

  12. laxsupermom says:

    The shelving looks amazing! I love how your desk space satrts in a closet nook, and continues around. I hadn't noticed that before on the tour of the craft room. Genius! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Amy @MoMomma says:

    I love your use of the closet in this office space! I Pinned ya on Pinterest and just blogged about it as well on my getting organized posting-check it out! http://momommamoney.blogspot.com/2011/06/truthful-tuesday-get-organized.html

  14. Yelena's Nest says:

    Great tutorial. And what a cool way to turn a closet into a craft space.

  15. Carolyn says:

    That looks fantastic, what a great use of space.

  16. I want to copy this! How, exactly, were the shelves hung on the wall. I’ve studied this pictures and can’t quite grasp how they hang from the walls.

    • Hi Kelly– thanks for stopping by. Mr. Woodsy small strips of wood on the wall. He then placed the shelf against the wall on top of the small strips. The same goes for the top (except he attached the small strip of wood on the shelf and then screwed to the wall). Then, he screwed the small strips of wood on the bottom to the bottom of the shelf. If you would like me to send you photos of what I’m trying to explain I have not problem doing so!

      If he were to do this again he would put strips inside the modular shelving like you would do for a traditional cabinet. Good luck and if you build this we would love to see pictures and feature it! Please don’t hesitate to email us at SewWoodsy@gmail.com

  17. Joan Strosin says:

    Are there instruction for making the awesome corner desk? I love the curved front.

  18. Consuella Jackson says:

    I saw your studio while looking for ideas for mine. I didn’t plan to have need for a 2nd bedroom after I retired. Now I’m upsizing and for that reason. Your studio is beautiful, but alas it’s custom. I have no one who can do that for me. I want to cry. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Awe thanks so much for leaving such a nice comment. There are plenty of custom options out there to make your craft room exactly what you want to make it! We just love building stuff and customizing it to our taste! Good luck and I’m glad I could be a little inspiration for your future space!

  19. sue ainilian says:

    You are one lucky girl to have a hubby that provides that kind of support!

  20. Shelfmania! Katie, I have said this before but I’m so jealous of your craft room. (And your uber-helpful husband!) Great post. Totally repinning. 🙂

    • Thanks Jayne! Its so funny because now that Jon has been woodworking longer he looks at these shelves and knows he could do so much better!

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