Project: Wood Shelf Mantle (2)


I wasn’t expecting to actually make any progress already (and in some ways, I really didn’t), but I got a majority of the physical work done on the shelf!


I was so excited when I found the right kind of wood for a price I could afford immediately.  I eyed it, double-checked the size conversations (they were in inches while I had planned in centimeters), made sure I would still have enough for rent after this, etc.  The man at the store was kind enough to cut the last 6 inches off (making it a perfect 5’6″) where the only gnarls in that piece of wood were.  (I used it as a paint tester.)

After all this, I got home… and found out the piece wasn’t wide enough.  The shelf I picked it up from said 12″ wide (minimum to include a small overhang), but the piece I got was only 9″ wide.  (I’m mad because I argued with myself at the store between, “It says it’s 12in true size,” and, “It doesn’t look 12in…”)  So it’s too narrow.


Insight 1: Take your own measuring tape to the store with you.

I couldn’t return it because of the custom cut I got on it, so I reformulated my plan so I could still use the wood and continue immediately.  The overhang on the back can be any depth I want it to be, so I attached the piece to the front-top of the two shelves.

I cautiously marked the hole placement on the wood, transferred that over to the shelves, everything was beautiful and lined up… until I realized the screws I just bought with the wood were exactly the depth of the new wood, no deeper.  So back to the store.

Insight 2: Buy the right materials.  See what size you need (screws you have the drill bits for) and how long they need to be.

Before I returned to the store, so it could dry, I started painting.  I used the last of the matte black spray paint on the brown laminate shelf (which I need to get more of) and used black acrylic paint on the unfinished wood.  The texture needs to be sanded down, but the top portion will likely be covered in permanent matte black vinyl at the final touch.

I mentioned before about the difference in height from the side panels to the top panel of each of the bookcases.  With the new wood on top, these have left small gaps.  While they may just be hidden under black vinyl, I am considering using molding trim across the whole front.  This would also give it a unified appearance, but the idea is still up for debate.

Insight 3: Give it a chance.  Take a break and come back.

After all the little mishaps, I wasn’t very pleased with how the shelf looked when I stopped for the night.  I felt like all my plans were falling through and it was just going to cause damage to my shelves that I should have left alone.  They were moved back and restocked, but after a few movies in the living room beside it, I felt it looked a lot better.  At the very least, having the fronts all painted black made it seem like a solid piece.  So don’t give up on your projects, because I’m pretty excited for mine again every time I walk past it.


Until such a time as I am able to get the next round of supplies, the shelves have been refilled and continue their lives as though the devastation of a small hand drill has not affected them.  (They’re really putting on a brave face, especially the shoes.)

Until next time!



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