DIY Natural Wood Shelves

pin natural wood shelves

Natural wood shelves have been a secret obsession of mine for some time now. I love the effortless beauty of raw wood and the warmth it brings into a home. This was the perfect project for us to tackle due to the fact that our backyard is practically a mini forest.

Shelves in general are a great way to fill up an empty wall space and get organized. Plus, we had plenty of lovely cedar trees to choose from.

I knew it was only a matter of time before I started a project involving wood shelves in our home and I’m glad we did because they turned out amazing!

So here’s how it went down.

Slicing and Dicing Our Cedar Tree

Since this project was basically screaming to be done, we dove right in and got it done. The hubs busted out our monster of a chain saw and connected the chain saw mill attachment and sawed away.

I wanted thick shelves, so he cut the planks on the 1.5″ setting.

cutting cedar planks

Measure Twice, Cut Once

All I needed was 2 planks from this log since it was so large. My goal was to make 3 shelves, each at 26 inches long. These babies are going into my laundry room that’s currently under construction.

The next step was the cutting process. I measured the 26 inches I needed and marked it with a pencil for an accurate cut. We used a table saw to do the dirty work.

raw cedar shelves

The Sanding Process

I decided to sand the chainsaw marks down for a smooth surface by using our super convenient mouse palm sander. I used 80 grit sandpaper.

The higher the sandpaper number, the finer the grit. The lower the sandpaper number, the grit is more coarse.

For example, if the wood is really rough it would be best to use a 40 or 80 grit sandpaper to easily remove large indentations in the wood.

sanding cedar 80 grit

Use a finer grit such as 120 or 220 to get a smooth polished feel after the initial sanding. I, on the other hand, only used 80 grit and the result was smooth enough for me.

There were a few slight chainsaw marks left, but I liked the look so I stuck with it.

sanded cedar plank 80 girt

I also sanded all the edges for a rounded worn look.

rounded cedar plank edges

Sealing our Cedar Shelves

The natural color of cedar is way too pretty to stain in my opinion, so I opted for polyurethane finish to seal my shelves. I used the clear Minwax brand with a 2″ synthetic bristle brush.

Minwax clear polyurethane

Excuse my can. Its been used and abused.

Make sure to dust and wipe the wood down before applying any type of sealant.

The last thing you want to deal with is getting your brush gunked up with loads of wood dust and messing up your smooth finish.

cedar shelves with polyurethane

The color came out so rich after applying the poly. LOVE.

Once the shelves dried, I sanded lightly with a 220 fine grit block and reapplied the poly. I only coated the bottoms with one coat of poly because who cares?…I didn’t. I was ready to slap these beauties on my wall. I have no patience. That’s one thing I’m still trying to master.

All done!

cedar planks with 2 coats of poly

Mounting Our Natural Wood Shelves

This was probably the scariest part for me. Not counting the chainsaw part because chainsaws and I don’t get along. I like my limbs attached to my body.This project wouldn’t have happened without my husband’s help.

I hate the leveling and drilling aspect of this because I feel like I just plain out suck at it. If I could eyeball everything and have it turn out perfect I’d be golden. Anyways, back to reality.

Tools You’ll Need for Mounting Shelves
  • Stud finder
  • Leveler
  • Screws
  • Screw driver

I decided the best way to do this was to mount my brackets to the wall first. So I grabbed my stud finder and went to work.

stud finder

The red light on the stud finder supposedly indicates the “edge” of the stud. I used my pencil to lightly mark the edges of the stud from both directions.

Next I placed the leveler on top of the bracket to make sure I screwed it in properly.

wall bracket with leveler

I’m not sure if this is the best technique for installing shelves, but it worked for me.

I measured the space I wanted to have between my shelves and continued on my way until I had all my brackets in place. Then I put the icing on the cake when I attached my cedar shelves, Viola!

installed natural wood cedar shelves

I present to you my beautiful natural wood shelves with my final touches.

Complete natural cedar wood shelves

Fill me in on your latest project using raw wood or shelving you’ve been aching to attempt!

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