I wanted this project to be relatively inexpensive and quickly-executed since we have other things going on. In the end, it took us a few hours over the course of 2 days (to give things time to dry/cure) and cost around $100-ish–not “cheap” but neither are store-bought shelves as chunky as these…
2″x10″x8′ Pine Boards – Untreated
6″ Steel Corner/L-Brackets
Minwax Gel Stain – Mahogany
Top Coat Spray – Matte
Cold Galvanizing Compound Spray Primer
Oil Rubbed Bronze Metallic Spray Paint – Satin
1) Plan out the bracket/shelf placement with a stud finder (or your intuition) and 1.5″ masking tape (2″ thick boards are actually more like 1.5″ thick in reality)
–I decided to stagger the upper shelves because…well, I don’t know really. After trying out a few different configurations with masking tape, I thought this was more visually interesting (and imagined the ends would also help to act as book ends since that corner wouldn’t be very useful if used solely for books. But here I am using it for crap other than just books so it may not have mattered in the long run.) We kept the two bottom shelves on an even plane just to “contain” the whole thing–not scientific, it just looked good. We also began the shelves up high enough so that they wouldn’t be blocked by any furniture in the room…or cat-butt.
2) Decide how to hang the brackets–“pointed upward or downward.” (Is there a technical term for this?) So you can mark out exactly where they’ll need to go.
–The hardest thing to decide was which way to hang the brackets. I liked the ultra-industrial look of completely underneath, downward pointing brackets…
…but decided to turn them the other way like a “hook” because I really liked the idea of the brackets being more hidden when things were on the shelves–I thought they might more resemble the look of floating shelves…
3) Prime the brackets with Cold Galvanized Compound Primer then paint with ORB metallic spray paint in satin, or leave them alone if the shiny steel look is preferred.
4) Stain and top-coat the cut-to-size shelves or leave unfinished
–I chose Gel Stain because I find it more tolerable to apply and it also appears much richer after the first coat than traditional stain–so I was able to achieve the color I wanted after just one coat (time s-a-v-e-r.) The Mahogany color is red enough to warm up the room a bit and coordinate with our bar stools and entry table, but not too red–sort of an orangey-red.
–What I used for a topcoat was a matte, clear-finish acrylic spray made more for art projects than finishing wood. I didn’t want the shelves to have a sheen, though, so this worked for me. I think this will be enough protection for some books and tchotchkes…but there are no guarantees.
5) Use 2″ screws to attach the brackets to the studs, starting at the top (so there’s enough room to attach the shelves to the brackets from underneath.)
6) Use 1″ screws to attach the shelves to the brackets from underneath
7) Put some stuff on the shelves!
8) …Go back to the basement