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Bryan’s Workshop

How to Build Shelves Between the Studs

Between-the-studs, built-ins, niche shelves, recessed shelves...dang, there's a lot of names! One things for sure, whatever you call these, they're awesome! There is a ton of potential storage space hiding in your walls. With a little planning, you can bring some of that space to light instantly turning a room into something epic to look at while also de-cluttering it. I am the king of clutter, folks! I built shelves into a wall in my small kitchen to decoratively store and display stuff. 


-Power drill


-Table saw


-Shop vac

-Stud finder


-Thin plywood

-Wood for shelves

-Wood trim


-Paint or stain

-Wood wax or finish

-Paint/stain brushes

-Clean up supplies


-Good mask

-Eye protection

-Hearing protection


These shelves were built into a non-load bearing wall which is a wall that does not support any gravity loads from the house. You can do whatever you like to non-load bearing walls since they are not responsible for the gravitational support for your property. The only weight these walls bear is its own and is basically constructed to divide a room. This non-load bearing wall has head plates and floor sills attached to the ceiling and floor joists. With the studs, this wall is incredibly strong and can support the extra weight of the shelves.

If you're unsure about the wall you want to build shelves into, it is easily identified by looking at the joists and rafters in your attic or basement. If they run parallel to the wall, they are most likely non-load bearing. You also need to check for electrical wires. An outlet or light switch on the wall tells you that there are wires in it. Let's look at a light switch. The wires are coming from the power source in your house, usually the fuse or breaker box. Turn off the electricity and open the switch cover to pull the switch out and see where the power is coming in from. This should give you a start on tracing where it's running. Now let's start!


Step 1: The Wall!

First, I tried to use my stud finder to mark all the studs with a pencil, but that thing was acting bananas! After failing at stud finding, I drilled a pilot hole in the wall big enough to fit my jigsaw blade in and made a hole to look in. There are no outlets or light switches on this wall, but I still turned of electricity and check by looking in the hole with a flashlight. No wires and no...ghosts. I live in Japan and am legitimately worried about ghosts in the house. You've see the Ring, right! 


1. My stud finder is junk! Dont trust your stud finder!

2. This wall had uneven spaced studs of different thicknesses.

3. Things got incredibly dusty, so mask and goggle up!

4. Have cleaning supplies on hand, but covered so dust doesn't get on it. 

5. I think I heard a ghost in the the one from The Grudge.

Step 2: Cut out the Wall!

Next, I used the ol' jigsaw and cut along the drywall. You can completely remove the drywall if you want, just be ready to deal with the drywall screws. I cut out wavy designs in the top of the walls and love how it all turned out. I would've got fancier with it too, if I had better jigsaw skills. The cutting part was easy but very messy! I'm talking dust and debris all over the place. I needed to stop and cover everything with drop cloth. You should be careful because the wall is open and it's easy to drop stuff down between the studs. Dust is easy to vacuum out with a shop vac hose, but I almost dropped my drill down there. Oopsy daisy!


1. Even messier, so wear your safety swag and have clean up stuff ready.

2. Need better jigsaw skills to be more epic

3. Almost lost a drill in the wall.


Step 3: Add the Trim!

It's trimming time! I cut pieces of trim out of the scraps from the wall and used a couple slats of cedar wood with it. I prefer cedar over pine, because I love how it looks painted and stained. It has an awesome textured grain.


- I think I heard that ghost the one in the wall from The Haunting of Hill House. Netflix ya'll!!

Step 4: Paint and Stain!

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