The saga of the floating postcard shelves continues. Dan and I awoke early this morning, excited to have the day off from work, and even more excited to finally hang our floating postcard shelves. You may remember my sneak preview from last week when I detailed the feelings of failure that can come along with even the simplest DIY project. You may notice that this blog post is labeled “Part I”, so let’s just say… this post sadly will not have a big reveal for you. Frustration keeps sneaking up on us. Let’s look back on happier days for this shelf project.
Behold the (totally hot mess) office desk wall. Remember my beautiful 70’s era sewing machine desk? After finding her on the curb earlier this year, Dan and I decided to create an office gallery wall/shelving unit for our his-and-hers desk space. When we first decided to take over the office wall, we looked to Pinterest for some inspiration. I love a good gallery wall, but I also think that an office wall should maintain some level of functionality and storage. I really loved the shelving featured in offices like this and even bigger, sturdier shelves like in this office space. Shelving in an office can be doubly useful: both a practical piece and a focal point for art!
Based on a few options we liked, combined with the fact that we are parents to two curious kitties, we decided that floating, lightweight postcard shelves would be our best option. These floating shelves, paired with some fun art and a customized bulletin board, would be the perfect addition to our office space. We headed to Home Depot (a weekly occurrence for us) and picked up two 1×4 pine boards to create the shelves. They were each 48 inches long, and we planned to make two long shelves to display art and photos, including the (too many) cute animal postcards that I insist on buying every time I take a trip to Ikea.
Dan did some pretty serious woodworking to kick off this project. When we got home, Dan cut each piece of wood down to about 50 inches. He then cut a small piece off of each shelf to use as a mounting bracket. For the bracket, he drilled thru-holes (engineering speak) which is a hole that you can slide a bolt through in your piece of wood. He then drilled a larger hole to recess the bolt head (you can see this in the picture below – the holes are two different sizes).
With all the holes drilled in the bracket, he placed it against the back of the shelf piece and traced the thru-holes onto the shelf so he knew where to drill. Basically, he was making sure the holes in the bracket matched up with the holes in the shelf. He drilled the same holes in the shelf. Here’s the bolt in the mounting bracket:
Next, Dan installed dado blades in his table saw and used the blades to cut a groove into each shelf, fit for a postcard! Now completed, he took both the mounting bracket and shelf pieces and held them together. He cut the pieces together to their final 48-inch size using his table saw.
Once all of the woodworking was done, I took to painting the shelves by hand. Each shelf required two coats of paint each: on the top, bottom, and front sides. Adding in the time it took to wait for each coat to dry, this portion of the project took the better part of an afternoon. I used white flat paint (more specifically, a Glidden interior paint and primer combo) and, as you can see above, used a medium sized-paintbrush. Unfortunately for us, this was not the end of the shelf project. A few days after I finished painting, Dan noticed that one of the shelves had actually started excreting, er, oozing, sap, which effectively ruined my painting job. We were disappointed, but sometimes wood isn’t given enough time to dry out before it’s sold, so sap happens (ha, ha) from time to time. On the bright side, I was able to repaint the shelves using a small paint roller, which gave the wood a much cleaner finish.
In the last part of the prep stages, Dan put some apoxy on the shelves to hold the bolts into place so that everything would hold together.
Once we finished the month-long shelf project, we headed up to the office and measured, using the bulletin board as the center of the office wall. Level in hand, Dan measured out where the shelves would be placed above the bulletin board. We’re planning on putting art underneath the shelves as well, so it will be a full wall.
Next, Dan drilled countersunk holes in the mounting bracket piece and screwed the screws in partially, so that the tips stuck out. We then took the mounting pieces and pushed them up against the wall where we wanted the shelves to rest, leaving a few marks where we would actually drill into the wall. Once the holes were drilled, Dan put wall anchors into the wall and screwed the mounting bracket into the anchors. We were so close. SO CLOSE. But of course, in DIY world, things don’t always work out for the best. We slid the shelves onto the bolts of the bracket, taking a step back to admire our handiwork, and…
We discovered that the office wall was not flat. There was a big gap between the mounting bracket and the shelf, showing that despite our best efforts, these two pieces were never going to be flush up against the wall. Surprisingly, both Dan and I managed to keep it together and are currently brainstorming our next steps. Floating postcard shelf project, to be continued.