Slat Wall Bookshelves

My son’s nursery had white IKEA picture ledges I used as bookshelves. And while these did the job, I knew I wanted to spice up the way that area looked. I scoured Pinterest for something more modern and creative. That’s when I found the perfect bookshelves for my son’s boho mid-century modern nursery: slat wall bookshelves! Of course, I knew I was going to change up my shelves a bit from the ones I found online. I also knew we had a wall outlet and a vent to work around. Despite the challenges, I absolutely love the way these shelves turned out! You can also make the shelves by themselves without the slat wall. We did this in my daughter’s room, which I will also show you below.

Wood needed for the slat wall (all found at Menards):

  • 1×2″ select pine boards for the slat wall…ours were 10 feet long because our walls are very tall. Make sure the boards are straight and not warped when you are picking them out.

Materials needed to make the book ledges (ours is 4 shelves…you could make less or more based on your preference and wall space):

  • 4 select pine 1x6x8 boards
  • 3 select pine 1x3x8 boards
  • Wood glue
  • .75″ brad nails
  • 4 wood dowel rods measuring 3/4″ width x 75″ length
  • Black spray paint

Tools Needed:

  • Brad nailer
  • Small circular sander
  • Drill press or hand drill
  • 3/4″ spade drill bit
  • Miter saw
  • Vice grips
  • Rubber mallet

Cut List:

  • Four 45″ 1×6
  • Four 45″ 1×3
  • 3/4″x45.5″ dowel rod (DO NOT CUT UNTIL PAINTED)
  • Eight 5″ 1×6

Instructions for the slat wall:

  1. Measure your space. Get your 1x2x10 select pine boards and cut them with your miter saw to the exact length of your wall from the trim up. We had to cut some boards shorter or notch in for where our outlet and wall vent were.
  2. Use your brad nailer to nail the boards into the wall every 6 inches or so. We did not wood fill these holes and they are barely noticeable.

Instructions for the shelves:

  1. Take each 45″ 1×3 and add a light line of wood glue on one long side to connect to the long face of the 45″ 1×6 in order to create an “L”. Vice on each end and in the. middle making sure that the edges are flush. Take your brad nail gun and nail the two pieces together from the bottom of the 1x6x45″ piece into the 1x3x45″ pieces spacing the nails about every 4-5 inches.
  2. Get your 4″ 1x6x5 pieces and place them on your drill press or on a flat surface with your hand drill so you can drill at a perfect angle. Measure 3/4″ from the top corner on your right and left pieces that will go on each shelf – make a mark in each corner corresponding with the inside panel where the dowel rod will fit. Drill with the 3/4 spade drill bit on each right and left piece, drilling about 1/4″ into the wood. It doesn’t have to be exact because the dowel rod will fit very snug into this hole.
  3. Now you can spray paint your dowel rods, making sure that at least 45 and a half inches of the rods are perfectly painted all the way around so it looks perfect on the shelf. I vice gripped each rod to two cinder blocks and painted one side, then rotated to paint the other side. Once dried, cut into 45.5″ pieces. Hammer the dowel rods into both 1x6x5″ pieces and test the fit on your L shelf making sure it’s snug. If it’s not snug, you can try to hammer the side pieces a little more or drill the 3/4″ holes a little deeper. I also had to sand the L piece on each end so that the pieces were absolutely even and it created a flush fit. Glue. each side of the L piece, fit the dowel rod piece around each side and brad nail the pieces all together.
  4. You’re almost finished, and at this point it makes sense to put a light sand across the whole piece to get rid of any mill markings or silvers from the cut process. You can also fill the brad holes with wood filler if you want, but I didn’t do. this as it looked pretty good without that step.
  5. To hang on a normal wall: identify the place on your slat wall that you want each shelf to hang. Mark where your studs are under the sheetrock, drill a small hole and find a good 2.5-3″ wood screw to secure each shelf to the wall (leveling as you go). Space the shelves according to your own specifications….I spaced 15″ to allow for taller books + a little more space.
  6. To hang on your slat wall: same steps, but you’ll be drilling into your slats.

Since we had a vent to work around, we were unable to fit a fifth shelf, so I decided to put the word “Library” above the shelves. I cut mine out of wood on my Glowforge machine, but you could find custom wood cut outs on Etsy if you want to add a word on your shelves. I spray painted my wood word cut out the same black we used on the dowel rods and hung it with sticky command strips.

Some of my son’s favorite books are the touch and feel books…I highly recommend them for keeping a toddler entertained and interactive. We love the “Never Touch a…” series. Here are a few my guy absolutely loves: Never Touch The Bugs, Never Touch a Tiger, Never Touch the Grumpy Pumpkins, Never Pop a Shark, and Never Pop a Unicorn.

And that’s it! What do you guys think of our slat wall book shelf? It’s going to be so useful in our son’s nursery as he grows!

2 responses to “Slat Wall Bookshelves”

  1. […] My husband built the book ledges (previous blog post on how to make these amazing shelves found here). We chose paint colors that went with her wall and bedding – pink, mustard yellow, and of […]

  2. […] easy and turned out SUPER cute! My husband custom-made book ledges for her wall (see instructions here…we did not do the slat wall with these). For her shelves, I did a mix of books and decor. I […]

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