Category Archives: DIY Projects

DIY Scrap Wood Decorative Box

My out of control scrap pile has officially dwindled down to a couple of completely manageable bins .  Earlier projects like the  headboard and floating shelves sucked most of the life out of it.  But, those projects motivated me to keep working towards utilizing as much of it as possible, without purchasing anything new (yet).  The most recent result was this little decorative box.  Easy to build and perfect for all those little, bitty pieces you just can’t make yourself throw away.

The base pieces.  You start with these pieces to create the base structure.  The ? marks are there because you can use scrap pieces of different heights, just be sure you use all the same size depth.  I used 3/4″ stock for the the bottom (7×12) and the skinny strips you see (13.5 x ? & 7 x ?) and 1/4″ stock for the interior sides (4.5×7 & 4.5×11.5).

decorative box base piecesStart assembly by gluing and nailing the short skinny strip ends (7x?) to the bottom piece (7×12).

sides decorative boxRepeat with the long skinny strips.  You want the pieces flush with one side of the bottom.  You can see the skinny strips are not all the same height and it really doesn’t matter as long as there is enough extending past the bottom to attach the side pieces.

decorative box side

Then dry fit the sides of the box into the base to be sure everything fits properly.

dry fit decorative boxOnce you know everything fits properly, pull out the longer pieces leaving the shorter ones in place.  Those shorter pieces will just be used as spacers at the moment.  Use a good sized bead of glue  along the interior side of the base and then place the long sides back in place and clamp (pull the short ends out to clamp).  You could also nail these in place with a brad nailer.  I didn’t have any nails short enough, so glue worked alone.  I just had to have a little patience to allow everything time to dry.  Once dry repeat these steps for the short ends.

clamped decorative boxAfter all the interior sides are in place and set permanently it is time to start adding the decorative sides.  This is where all the little pieces come into play.  You want to use 3/4″ stock – the same as used for the skinny strips.

Start with the short ends (no in process pictures, sorry, I spaced).  Mark your side wall 1/4″ down from the top.  Do not place any pieces above that mark.  Apply glue to the side wall and glue each length in place.   My short ends were horizontal strips in various heights @ 7″ long.  The pieces should be flush with the ends of the short side.  These could also be tacked in place with 3/4″ brads, but glue alone works fine too.  Clamp the pieces to the side wall once they are all in place.  Let dry.

side pieces glued in place

Finished short end.  You can see the 1/4″ gap left at the top of the side.  It’s very important this measurement is the same all around the box.

finished side of decorative box

After both short sides are in place you can start the long ends.  Mark 1/4″ down from the top same as you did for the short ends.   For the longer sides I went with 3″ height along the length in vertical strips (because I have a ton of short, itty bitty pieces), but you could do longer strips in various heights just like the short ends or any other arrangement that works for you.

in process long side

I only nailed the first piece in place.  The rest of the pieces were just glued in place.  Keep going until the side is filled.


After all those pieces were in place, I cut a 13.5″ long strip the height needed to meet the 1/4″ mark near the top of the side wall.

finished long side decorative box

Repeat for the other long side.  My long sides are very similar, but not exact.  Like I said before it ‘s a puzzle you can put together in whatever design works for you and the scrap you have available.

With all the sides assembled, glued and clamped, it is time to assembly the top.

top for decorative box

Super simple to assembly.  Attach the 7″ long pieces with glue and nails to the short end of the top.  Repeat with the 13.5″ long pieces along the remaining two sides.

sides attached to top

That’s it.  Finished top.  Don’t worry if it looks a little off in the photos.  Some sanding is going to make it all look pretty.

finished top decorative box

Now it’s time to see if it all fits together.

finished box 1And it does.  Yay!


Now that it is built it is time to sand it down.  I did not fill in the nail holes because this is going to have a more old distressed look when I get done with it, so the nail holes just add to that look.

The almost finished box after loads of sanding…

scrap wood decorative box

I’m still debating on the exact finish I want to use.  The stain I would like to try is only available online (for me) and I’d have to order 2 quarts.  I don’t want to try it that bad.  Another possibility would be a faux distressed paint finish, but that would cover all the variances in the wood which doesn’t really appeal to me either.  More thought will have to go into this one.  Stay tuned…

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Thrift Store Bookshelf Makeover

I found this solid wood bookshelf at our local Habitat for Humanity for $12 and snatched it up quick.  It wasn’t in amazing shape, but bookshelves are usually not hard to revamp and being solid wood it was well worth the money.  Most importantly, I already knew where I wanted to use it from the moment I spotted it.

bookshelf beforeAt first glance I figured it would need another shelf to even out the large gap at the top and several of the shelves would need replacement trim.  I also knew the scrolled detail at the top would have to go bye bye.

bookshelf in progress 1Here it is with a new shelf added to even out the top area (I just eyeballed it’s placement since none of the other shelves are evenly spaced), wider trim placed around each of the shelves to make them match and the top trimmed out fix the odd extension of the legs above the top shelf.  Loads of wood filler filled all the gaps.

side view book shelfSide view.  The detail on the legs were one of the things that drew me to the shelf in the first place.    All the new trim was attached with wood glue and nails.  Also,  I was able to use scrap wood for everything on this project, so my out of pocket for the revamp was zero which is always nice.

book shelf 3This is it after top was added and lots and lots of sanding.  With the big mix of all the woods (some of the original shelves had been replaced with different wood in addition to the new trim) I knew staining it was out of the question.

side view bookshelf 2Side view with the top in place.  The top is actually a scrap piece of 3/4″ plywood finished with veneer edge banding,  I love that stuff.  Super easy to apply using a household iron and then you just trim it down with a box knife.  After a little sanding it looks just like a solid piece of wood.

black paint bookshelf

A few coats of Deep Onyx paint from Behr later.  I really love this black and will have to keep myself from painting everything in the house my new favorite color.

distressed bookshelf

To bring out a little bit of the detail in the legs and keep it from being just another painted piece I did just a little bit of distressing.  The distressing helped to age the newer wood to match the older more worn original wood.  I applied a little stain to the exposed wood and then wiped it down.   A good tip for applying stain to those smaller distressed areas is to use a stain pen which will help keep the stain just where you want it.

finished bookshelfI finished the shelf with a coat of wax before relocating it to it’s new home in the downstairs half bath.  It’s a small, windowless bathroom which makes it fairly difficult to get good pictures, but I was genuinely too lazy to stage it somewhere better lit only to remove everything and move it again.  No thank you.

finished bookshelf 2An up-close of the distressing.  I had to play with the stain colors on the shelves to match the legs.  The original wood stained darker and absorbed the stain more quickly than the new wood, so I played with the colors I had on hand until it darkened to a similar color.


Not bad for $12 and a couple hours on a Saturday, huh.  I love it when I find bargains for real wood items at our local thrift stores, which doesn’t happen very often up here.


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