How to Build Your Own Wall Unit


Homeowners proudly display books, trophies and other collectibles on their wall units. Why not have them in your house as well? Custom wall units reflect personality and style and building your own wall units just makes sense. Wood choice tops the list of things to consider because some wood stains better than others. The same is true of painting. Choose something with raised grain for staining and something smooth for painting. Oak has raised grain and stains well, while birch plywood is smooth and paints as good as the oak stains.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 pieces of 15-by-84-by-3/4-inch plywood
  • Framing square
  • Wood glue
  • 14 pieces of 22 1/2-by-15-by-3/4-inch plywood
  • 8-penny finish nails
  • Hammer
  • Damp cloth
  • 2 pieces of 24-by-84-by-1/14-inch plywood
  • 4-penny box nails
  • 50-feet of 1-inch veneer edge band
  • Iron
  • Sanding block
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Variable speed drill
  • Philips head screw tip
  • 2-inch drywall screws
  • Put the four pieces of 15-by-84-by-3/4-inch plywood on a worktable. Measure from one end of the plywood and make marks at 3/4, 11 1/4, 12, 29 1/4, 30, 48, 48 3/4, 60, 60 3/4, 72, 72 3/4 and 83 1/4 inches. Place the framing square on the marks and draw lines acrossf the plywood. Do this for each of the four pieces of plywood.

  • Apply glue to the 15-inch ends of the 22 1/2-by-15-by-3/4-inch plywood (shelves), place them between the lines, and secure them to each other with 8-penny finish nails. Do the same for the top and bottom shelves. Clean up excess glue with a damp cloth. Set the nail heads with a nail set.

  • Run a bead of glue on the center of the edges of the two wall units. Place the two pieces of 24-by-84-by-1/4-inch plywood on the wall units and secure them with the 4-penny box nails. Turn the units over and clean up excess glue with a damp cloth.

  • Cut four pieces of the veneer edge band 85 inches long with the utility knife. Place them on the 84-inch edges of the wall units, hold one edge even with the inside edge of the 84-inch pieces and apply the hot iron until the glue activates and they stay on the plywood. Sand the overhang (the part hanging over the outside edge of the 84-inch pieces) with a sanding block and 100-grit sandpaper.

  • Measure and cut the 15-inch pieces of the veneer edge band for the shelves with the utility knife. Attach them to the edges of the plywood in the same manner as the other veneer and sand to fit. Install the units on either side of the window with 2-inch drywall screws.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fill the nail holes with painter’s putty for painting the units or wood putty for staining the units.
  • Trim the units where they meet the wall with screen molding.
  • Do not leave the hot iron on the veneer too long to avoid burning the wood.
  • Do not paint or stain the wall units without proper ventilation.

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  • Photo Credit Beautiful room for work in a modern apartment image by terex from
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