How to Build a Leaning Door Shelf (Without a Door!)

About a week ago, I promised a look at our brand new shelf, inspired by this one made from a reclaimed door. Jess loved the look, but we didn’t have access to any old doors. So I drew up a plan to build something similar from dimensional lumber. We are both really happy with how it turned out! Initially, I wondered if it would be obvious that this shelf was not truly an old door, but adding the knob and hinges makes it look really authentic. I sometimes forget that it’s mostly just 2×6’s!

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You can build this shelf yourself for under $40 ($60 if you choose to add the hinges and knob) using our free plan. Total time spent on this project was only about 8 hours, so it could easily be finished in a weekend.


Get the free plans for this project!

The Build

To start, I cut the lumber per the plan and drilled pocket holes in the ends of the horizontal rails.

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Then, using 2-1/2 pocket hole screws and glue, I attached the rails to the stiles to create the “door”.

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I cut the shelf supports at a 10 degree angle on the miter saw. While I had it out, I used the miter saw to cut a 1×12 into three 29″ lengths (the 6″ and 3″ deep shelves could be ripped from one 29″ piece of 1×12″). Next I beveled the edges at 10 degrees. I used a table saw because it’s faster, but this step could also be done with a circular saw and edge guide. I drilled pocket holes in the shelves and shelf supports and gave the pieces a quick sanding before assembly.

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To assemble the shelves, I started by attaching the shelf supports to the shelves using 1-1/4″ pocket hole screws and glue. I used two to three pocket hole screws between each shelf support and shelf. Then, I attached the shelf/shelf support assembly to the door frame. I used three pocket hole screws through the shelf and into the door frame. On the lowest shelf support I used two pocket hole screws per shelf support (due to the extra depth of this shelf). On all other shelf supports, I only used one pocket hole screw.

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Jess wanted a distressed look for this shelf, so we decided on the old tried-and-true technique of distressing using Vaseline. To start, I stained all of the visible parts of the door with a color called “Special Walnut”.

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Once the stain was completely dry, I applied a light coat of Vaseline to the edges of the door and to select areas on the front of some of the rails.

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Then I brushed on two coats of some semi-gloss Antique White we had setting around. It’s easy to see how the paint won’t stick to any spots where Vaseline has been applied.

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After the paint had dried, I went over everything with 150 grit sandpaper. The paint came off easily wherever the Vaseline had been applied.

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To complete the “door” look, I added hinges and a knob. I notched out the edge of the door where the hinge would be installed with a chisel for a more authentic look.

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Finally, I installed the knob with the included screws.

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The Final Product

And here it is, the finished product (dressed up, of course, by my talented wife):

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That’s it! This was a pretty simple project that took less than 8 hours to build and finish. If you want to make one for yourself, click here to get our exclusive plan.

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1 thought on “How to Build a Leaning Door Shelf (Without a Door!)”

  1. Another good way of making this is if you have access to a house with these type of old doors. Or sometimes you can even find these doors at flea markets,antique stores or a door store.And using the crackled paint you can really do any color you choose. I love old style DIY items like this.Great find!

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