I’ve wanted to make reclaimed wood shelves for so long, but I couldn’t find a space in my house where they would look good and serve a purpose. Until now.

We have a room in our house that is meant to be a formal dining room but since we aren’t formal people, the room was rarely used. 

The unfortunate thing about the room not getting used is that the views aren’t being seen. There’s 3 windows in this 13×13 room, two of which have a perfect view of the acreage and woods we have in the back.

It’s also the coolest room in the summer and warmest room in the winter, though I’ve not figured out why. So, I decided to steal this room and convert it into my office! Thus, the perfect spot for my new DIY reclaimed wood shelves!

How to stain reclaimed wood for reclaimed wood shelves

This first meant a room makeover. The room, at one point, was being used for LuLaRoe storage when I was a consultant. My husband had built shelving cubbies and hung heavy duty shelves. This meant repairing walls and painting, which we’ll cover in a post soon!

Once the walls were painted (a color, by the way, I’m in LOVE with!), then we needed to hang shelves for all my geekery collection. My husband had a large pallet with a transmission in it (or something along those mechanic-y lines) and he suggested using the boards for reclaimed wood shelves!

Here’s a woodworking tip! Save scraps of wood from any and all projects you do. Not only might you use them for projects in the future, but you can use them to test how paint or stain will look on your final project!

Starting Your Reclaimed Wood Shelves: Cleaning

The boards had great character and potential but first, we needed to clean them because they’d been God knows where!

We found the most amazing reclaimed wood boards that would be perfect for wood shelves in my office!

This was what the boards looked like before we cleaned them. We needed to get the dirt and *whatever* out of the crevices and off the surface so we had a clean board with which to work.

First, we had to power wash the boards to clean them

Once we power washed the boards, we left them to dry for 24 hours.

The boards looked amazing when they were drying, so we hoped we'd be able to seal them and keep that color

Once the boards were clean, they had such an amazing, rich color. We hoped that color would stay, but much of it was lost when they dried back to an aged, gray color.

Cutting Your Reclaimed Wood Shelves To Size

My next step was to cut the boards to size of the shelves I wanted. Since they were 6′ boards, I decided on 3 sets of 2′ shelves for two of the boards. The last board will be cut in half for two 3′ sections that will go above my desk in the office.

Cutting my reclaimed boards to the size I need for my reclaimed wood shelves

Once the boards were dry, I used my Makita compound miter saw to cut the boards to the sizes I needed.

It’s important to remember that, especially when you’re cutting repurposed or reclaimed wood, to avoid cutting anywhere they might be nails or screws. This will ruin your saw blade and might cause injuries. If you buy reclaimed wood, those metal items are usually removed, but not always. In our case, because we knew where the wood came from and was then thrown in a pile behind our barn, we knew this was a possibility and I was careful when cutting.

Our Reclaimed Wood Shelves Were Not What We Were Expecting

Once we looked at the boards on the wall, we knew we had to stain them

I loved this idea! I loved the grain of, and saw marks in, the wood. I was not pleased with the color once we checked it out in the room.

Just like sampling paint in the room you’re painting, we checked out the reclaimed wood against our painted walls. Against the Durango Blue walls, and with the Fennel Seed accent shelves that are painted, the color of the wood started to look yellow; a color that did not look good with palette we were going for.

We decided to stain them.

How To Stain Reclaimed Wood Shelves

Oh, the issue of choosing a stain. I wanted to find one that wasn’t too gray, which would cause a loss of that POP we wanted, but not too red because red, blue, and fennel just wasn’t working for me.

We decided on the PERFECT color! And, we super pleased with my decision. Here’s how we stained our reclaimed wood shelves. The whole beautiful process, using Varathane Special Walnut wood interior stain.


Now, we’re searching for the perfect brackets to go along with our perfect shelves and we’ll have the reveal soon on the blog!

What do you think of our project so far?
Are you comfortable doing projects like this?

About Author

Dusty is the editor of As Mom Sees It, a family lifestyle and travel site. She is a wife and mother of two in Ohio.

Dusty has been featured on ABC, on Mom Talk Radio and in iBlog Magazine. Her creations have been featured on Craftgawker, DIY Weddings, and in 2013, As Mom Sees It was named one of the Top 50 New Product Review Sites by Cision.

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