Try This: Scrap-Lumber Vanity Shelf

Turn scrap heap into bathroom chic


Because the lumber was free scrap from a construction site, the only costs for this shelf were the round mirror ($18 custom cut at a local glass dealer) and about $2 for 12 finish nails and 6 wood screws. The shelf took about two hours to complete.

Content Tools

As much as a quarter of all waste in the United States comes from construction and demolition debris. On the typical construction site for a three-bedroom home, wood—much of it scraps and leftovers of perfectly sound lumber—accounts for 20 to 35 percent of the trash hauled away*. The construction industry is slowly implementing recycling policies that will help, but in the meantime we decided to get creative with that building-site trash heap. The result: a Zen-like vanity shelf for the bath made from a few pieces of scrap 1-by-6 pine. In addition to a bit of Dumpster diving, you’ll need a few tools and minimal woodworking skills to complete this project. We chose beeswax as a natural wood finish, but it could be painted or stained for a nice effect.

*Statistics from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.

(All pieces are cut from 1-x-6 inch scrap pine.)

• Back: 24 inches
• Bottom: 36 inches
• Top: 36 inches. The top has a 10-inch wide, 5/8-inch deep notch cut in the back edge for the mirror and a 2-inch hole drilled to accommodate a flower vase.
• Dividers: 3 pieces, 4 inches each

The first two dividers and the shelf back are placed 6 inches from each end. The next divider is another 6 inches in. The notch for the mirror is centered on the wider section, and the vase hole is centered in its 6-inch section.

1. Drill the hole for the vase and jigsaw the notch for the mirror.

2. Set the top and bottom of the shelf on edge, lining them up carefully about 4 inches apart. Place the two end dividers 6 inches from the ends as shown. Predrill four holes for each divider, then glue and nail them in place.

3. Put the shelf back in position and predrill the holes at each corner.

4. Put glue (we used Titebond) along the edges of the shelf unit. Remember not to get glue into the notch for the mirror.

5. Screw back into place. Let the glue dry before sanding lightly and rubbing or painting on the finish.