In my living room, there once was a blank wall that cried out for tender loving care. This led to a spark of an idea which led to a fun and experimental weekend project.

I decided to fashion some inexpensive shelves to attach to this blank wall. I needed them to be sturdy enough to hold small decorative items and books. (Not heavy textbooks, but mostly paperback books.)

First, I picked up two semi-hollow interior doors from a hardware shop and cut them in half vertically. (With two halves of two doors, I could make four long shelves.)

I decided to use 2″x4″‘s because they would fit fully inside the half-door without any gaping. I selected four 2″x4″ pieces of wood and cut them to the length of the interior of the semi-hollow door.

You can see (left side of picture) that there is some cardboard inside the half-door (ergo the semi-hollow core). This cardboard had to be pushed back further inside the half-door a few inches so that later, the half-door can fully encase a long piece of wood that is attached to the wall.

Once the cardboard is pushed back, the 2″x4″ pieces fit perfectly inside the semi-hollow half-door piece.

Semi-hollow door

Using medium and fine grit sandpaper, I lightly sanded the surface of the door so that it would be smooth and be able to take a stain. (Since this is an inexpensive semi-hollow core (half) door, you can’t sand too deeply since the wood veneer is not that thick.)

To make the shelves a little more decorative, I cut some trim that I found at the hardware store and glued it to three of the edges, that is, the three sides that would be facing out from the wall. Since I don’t have a circular saw for mitre cuts, I just used this simple box tool to make the diagonal cuts on the trim:

After fastening the trim to three sides of the half-door with wood glue, I lightly sanded the surface of the shelf again so that it would be flush on top:

Attach Trim to "Door"

Then I stained the shelf and sealed it with a topcoat. (All of this describes one shelf, but with the materials that I had I was making four.)

Using long screws (tailored to the material that is behind the wall, e.g., wood stud, drywall, cement, etc.) I drilled the 2″x4″ pieces into the wall, affixing them on their narrowest side so that the semi-hollow half-door/shelf could fit neatly over it. It was important to make sure these pieces were level, so I checked the level multiple times before drilling.

Finally, I fit a semi-hollow half-door/shelf (that was now stained and trimmed) over each 2″x4″ that was attached to the wall. Using wood glue on the semi-hollow inside as well as light copper nails to tack the shelf down to the 2″x4″ inside, I secured the semi-hollow shelf to the 2″x4″.

Stain and Attach to 2x4 in walls

Once all four shelves were attached and dried and settled, all that was left was the most fun part: run around and look for the books and stuff to put on this new display.

Here are the finished shelves (only half-decorated as I kept moving things around, trying to decide what to put on them).

I think that perhaps even Robert Frost would approve of this wall, especially since it has a book of his poetry on it now.