Simple Wall Shelf for Books or Magazines

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Free plans to build a wood magazine shelf from

Do you need a little more storage on a blank wall?  This easy to build wall shelf holds books and other small items, and can add a decor element to your space!  We love this super quick and easy project - make it today with free plans!

simple wall magazine rack

It's inspired by the Pottery Barn Kids Hayden Magazine Rack ... only my DIY version cost about $10 to make, instead of $89.  

It's narrow enough to fit in a pretty tight space that was otherwise not useable - the perfect spot for a magazine rack! 

How I Built This Wall Shelf

This wall shelf only took about an hour or so to build - it really was easy - 

First, I cut the boards with my miter saw.  If you don't have a miter saw, you can ask your hardware store to cut boards from the cut list, or use a circular saw or jigsaw (I recommend using a straight edge to guide your handheld saw for a more precise cut).

The boards I bought were just cheap whitewood boards, but I'm very picky, and will dig through the pile to get nice ones.  Yes, I'm that lady at the hardware store with the flatbed cart, knee deep in boards.  Crooked boards make crooked shelves.

Even though my boards were nice, I still sanded them with medium grit sandpaper, working in the direction of the grain. I sanded all four sides.

Now that's what I'm talking about.  Time to build!

I took the two side boards (the big 1x6s) and marked all the shelf locations.  I put Xs where the shelf goes.

And marked with a square the underside of the shelf.  I like to mark the underside when I'm attaching with pocket holes because I can see it as I'm driving my screws.

Then I transferred the marks to the other side board so both match up exactly.

Then I marked out each and every pocket hole needed on every board.

You don't have to use a pocket hole jig to build this magazine rack - you could also countersink screws or even use finish nails and glue - but if there's two things that have truly changed the finished quality of my projects it's this: using pocket holes and putting more time into sanding the project.

With the pocket holes marked, there's no guess work.  No wondering if this is the right side of the board, the right end ... it's just put board in pocket hole jig ...


Drill pocket holes ...


Line up board with marks ...

Drive screws ...

And build magazine shelf.  It's really that easy.

The other nice thing about pocket holes is you don't really need glue.  I tend to only use glue when there's just one pocket hole (like on the end of a 1x2 or 2x2) to keep the board from twisting out later.

To attach the rails, I used a scrap 2x4 to space the rails 1 1/2" above the shelf.

Why not make things easy on yourself?

With the shelf built, it's time to round those top edges.

And then slow and steady with the jigsaw, paying attention to the blade, making sure it's not beveling on me as I cut.

diy magazine rack


How to Build Your Own Small Wood Shelf for Magazines or Books - Free Plans

wall shelf dimensions
Dimensions shown above.


Shopping List
  • 1 - 1x6 @ 10 feet long
  • 1 - 1x2 @ 6 feet long
  • I used 1 1/4" pocket hole screws to build everything but you could also use 1-1/4" brad nails or trim screws
  • You'll also need some hardware to hang - a couple of long screws into studs in the wall works great.
Cut List
  • 2 - 1x6 @ 32" (sides)
  • 3 - 1x6 @ 15 1/2" (shelves)
  • 4 - 1x2 @ 15 1/2" (rails/back)
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Miter Saw
Power Sander
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Attach shelves to sides.

Step 2

Attach back to top, flush to top and back edges.

Step 3

Attach rails to sides.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.



Wed, 09/04/2013 - 21:26

you sound like me at the hardware store. lol. Except the HD where I live puts the wood I need way up high so I have to drag the big metal platform ladder thing over. I'm up there cutting all the bundles open scavenging through all the wood like a mad man. hehe. I love this shelf. Its gonna come in real handy for my son's school stuff. Thanks for all your wonderful, useful plans. :)
~ Melody
p.s. have you ever tried a scroll saw? I love mine. I have a skil scroll saw with a turny knob thingy on top to make sharper turns and cool designs. You can get all kinds of cool blades in a range of sizes & thickness'.
Hope all is well with Baby boy/girl White, along with you, Miss Grace and "The Ram" :)


Thu, 09/05/2013 - 09:57

Nice shelf, Ana. I'm trying to think of a spot in my house for one...

I appreciate you mentioning again that with pocket holes you don't need to worry about glue. I've always had a hard time positioning boards perfectly the first time (there's a lot of shifting to get it in just the right spot!). And while that's not a problem if you're painting your piece, it causes problems if you are staining as the stain won't catch over a smear of glue! I appreciate the reassurance, and I love the ease of working with my Kreg jig (which I wouldn't know about if not for you!)


Thu, 09/05/2013 - 10:30

That's the first time I'd read what the gender of your baby is, congrats on a girl!!! It'll be so fun for your daughter to have a's a special bond! Love the magazine rack plan and how cheap it is to make. Hmmm...maybe for in my bathrooms!!! :-)


Thu, 09/05/2013 - 12:34

How am I missing where she mentioned the gender? :( I re-read the whole thing again and still cant find where she said it's a girl.

If it actually is a girl, yay for Grace. I have 3 sisters and all r my besties :)



Thu, 09/05/2013 - 19:42

After the picture of the curve she cuts on the 1x4, Ana says "Not bad ... but I'll be sanding that edge regardless ...Hey, I'm building for my baby girl! She's worth the extra elbow grease!" :-)

In reply to by MichelleC


Thu, 09/05/2013 - 23:10

I think she's talking about Grace. I could be wrong but I figured she was talking about Grace since she building it for Grace's homework.
Oh well boy or girl, I'm sure Grace will love him/her anyway :) Thanks for helping me. I was like, wow, how come I can't see what other can. lol Have a great day/night (whatever it is where ever you are :) )


Fri, 11/22/2013 - 09:01

I am going to build a smaller version of this using 1x4 lumber to go in the bathroom. We don't have a medicine cabinet and there are vitamin bottles cluttering up the counter top. It's driving me crazy! But how do I hang it? I'm guessing that you have to screw nail into a stud using the top cross piece. As lovely as this little shelf is I just think this will look tacky. Any ideas on how to hang it nicely? Once I figure that part out I'll be making and hanging one. Thanks for any advice! (And I'm that lady too!! It always brings concerned store workers when I start digging through wood with my 3 boys swinging like monkeys on the wood cart!)