Striking Shelf

Many of us consider a home improvement to be totally expensive. Indeed it’s not needed to have an immense budget or take a zippy loan for this as renovating some decor or interior details can be a DIY project. Just like the one right below.

Quick project guide

Hard labor: – 4/10

Skill level: – 5/10

Time needed: ~ 2 hours  (excluding drying time)

Do it yourself for: Prices for secondhand  pieces and their preparations will differ (sugar soap, sandpaper, brushes, etc.  R55; water-based primer and paint R200)

Shopping list

• old tables or stools

• wood glue

• wood filler

• sugar soap

• paint remover

• water-based multisurface primer

• water-based enamel


• sandpaper

• angle brackets

• 16mm screws

• sponge or cloth or steel wool

• sandpaper

• cordless drill

• circular saw

• impact drill

• paintbrush and foam roller

Project notes

Don’t compromise an antique item by cutting it in half! We made sure that these were reproduction pieces partly made from imbuia-veneered chipboard.

1 Following package instructions, mix the required amount of sugar soap with warm water and clean the surface area with a sponge, cloth or steel wool. Leave for about 20 minutes to ensure that it penetrates any dirt or grease, then wipe down with clean water. Wipe off all excess moisture with a dry cloth and leave to dry out thoroughly. Then lightly sand the entire surface to provide a ‘key’ for a primer coat. You could just remove paint or varnish from affected areas rather than from the entire unit. Numerous layers underneath your topcoats will facilitate a distressed look as sanding will expose these layers in varying degrees to create a unique end result.

2 Use good wood glue to repair any loose joints or components.

3 Then clamp in place and leave to dry.

4 Apply quick-setting repair putty to any badly damaged areas on the pieces, building these up to the original profile and then allowing them to harden before sanding. You can also use a wood filler to touch up and repair or smooth over any smaller damaged areas.

5 Use a tape measure to ascertain the midpoint along each unit and mark out a line down the middle. Stick a piece of masking tape along this line to protect the wood and prevent excessive splintering when you cut it. Now cut along this line using the circular saw.

6 Apply a coat or two of primer in long even brushstrokes. Dulux Supergrip Primer, Plascon Multi-Surface Primer, and Plascon Wood Primer are all suitable for either raw wood or smooth surfaces. The first two are water-based, dry quickly and are opaque white when dry while the wood primer is pink. These not only serve as effective primers but a light color helps to lessen the number of subsequent coats needed to cover dark wood items. Once this is dry, paint the pieces with two coats of enamel in the color of your choice.

7 Fix a small angle bracket to the underside of the tabletop along the back edge using 16mm screws. We used an offcut piece of 18mm pine plywood and cut two pieces to fit inside the stool framework to complete the new ‘shelves’.

8 Now fix the individual pieces to the wall. Place each unit against the wall and use a spirit level to ensure that it is straight. Mark the positions of the holes by scribing inside the holes in the brackets. Then use an impact drill with a masonry bit suited to the size of the wall anchor you’re using to drill holes in the wall. Fix each piece in turn, resting the legs of the next on top of the one below until the shelf unit is complete.