From The Project File~ Wood Slat Shelf

Awhile back a friend dropped by to say that he had an overwhelming quantity of wood slats ready for disposal. He was replacing the 1920s lathe and plaster walls in his house with sheetrock (by no means a small job). And because he understands our fondness for vintage building materials, he thoughtfully offered the lathe strips to us before he burned them or hauled them to the landfill. There was a small truckload full, and the above picture represents only a fraction. 

By the way, if you hang out with me long enough, you'll realize that I love taking pictures of wood. Wood piles, stacks, stumps, pallets, and so on~ I think it's a texture thing.

There is a space next to our stairwell, roughly 1x3, that I can't adequately describe to you. It was a countertop of sorts; a leftover from the crude condition in which we found the house when we took possession. It's kind of a nothing space, in that it has no real purpose other than to fill a void. We have tried a couple of surfaces in this awkward little area, but nothing ever looked really good. 

I think all the browsing I do on websites such as Houzz and Pinterest led me to the idea of using the lathe strips to create a rustic shelf surface.

Take a look at the process. It was almost all done in place, as the photos show. That means we had about five power tools in the house while the project was underway, along with a carpet of sawdust.

I did all the cutting and fitting of the strips and I have to say, it was very empowering. I know that sounds silly, but truly, this small undertaking really made me feel competent. I am no longer afraid of the chop saw and I'm becoming increasingly accurate on first cuts.

What's that old saying? "Measure once, cut twice"?

When the cutting was complete and the slats in place, we nailed the them to the underlayment using an air nailer. Nailing was fun because there wasn't a lot of skill and precision involved. The downside to air-driven tools is the cycling of the air compressor. When it cycles on to maintain pressure it is loud and very startling. However, the hassle of power tools in the living room is small compared to the pleasure of having just the right tool for each step of the project. 

From the workshop~
Larry made the awesome bullnosing from old pallet wood to finish the project. I still marvel at how smooth and pretty the boards look, and the depth of the wood trim added the refinement the shelf needed. Although I helped with the design decisions, the fabrication was clearly above my pay grade.

As an aside, since completing the shelf I have painted the surrounding walls with an awesome color, coconut milkI have to say, great paint color choice. I don't always get this lucky on first attempt.

I'm forever moving favorite accent pieces onto and off the new shelf, but I even like the wood surface as a stand-alone. Maybe that's because I'm now puffed up about myself, having been a major participant, and like to admire my work whenever I walk by.

My ego issue notwithstanding, the varied wood tones are mellow and visually warm, and the lathe strip design satisfies my very linear esthetic.

Feeling stoked! I ceremoniously scratched another line item from the project list. 




  1. Dana,
    A woman with a power tool can do anything! I like the wood strips and can understand your leaving them empty to be admired.


  2. Wow, this looks fantastic! You and Larry are quite a team! You certainly dressed up plain space and turned it into a focal point! Love it!