Monday, March 26, 2012

Toy Shelf

My son, Ryan, has loved horses for a long time. When he was a very small he liked to use our coffee table as a race track for his toy horses. The aggressive galloping resulted in several broken horse legs so you can imagine what it did to my coffee table. Fortunately I can now smile every time I see all those little divots. Okay, maybe only because I miss seeing that little toddler running around the table...not necessarily because of my overly "distressed" table. Anyway, Ryan's love for horses has grown into a love for all kind of animals and his collection has grown. I want my kids' rooms to be personalized and include things they're interested in, so I decided to display some of his animals while still making them accessible for play. The other day when I was in the garage, I saw a pile of wood left over from our kitchen island project. I thought I could make the perfect shelf using some of the left over wood.

Materials needed:

  • wood (you can obviously use any size of wood, but my slats are 1 1/2" wide x 1/4" thick)
  • staple gun & staples
  • wood glue
  • wood putty
  • sandpaper
  • paint
1) Make your plans. I first gathered a bunch of his animals and measured them so I knew how big to make each space on the shelf. I then drew up a plan on some graph paper.

2)  Cut wood according to your plan/measurements.

 3) Measure and mark where each board will go.

5) Glue and fasten with staples.

**Here is where I ended up having to change some plans. I ended up needing to assemble each row like ladders (making the inside rows two boards thick) because my staple gun wouldn't angle well enough in the small squares while trying to fasten it all together.

6) Glue and clamp each row together.

7) Attach the top and bottom boards.

8) Countersink staples. I used a small electric stapler which is much weaker than one powered by an air compressor, and consequently it didn't sink all of the staples too well. I didn't want the staples to show so I sunk them with my nail set and hammer.

9) Fill in those holes with putty.

10) Sand off excess putty. I wanted my shelf to have a little character and show some of the wood flaws so I didn't worry about sanding the entire thing, just the putty.


Here is the shelf ready for a little paint.

11) Paint and distress. After painting, I lightly sanded all the corners and areas that would naturally get some wear.

 12) Glaze to accentuate the distressed areas. I rubbed this walnut gel stain on the wood then wiped off the excess.

Here is a close up. I'm typically a bit of a perfectionist, but this time I like how the wood doesn't match up perfectly.

Here it is up on the wall.


  1. Cute shelf Kristi!! What a fun way to display something Ryan loves.

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