Reclaimed Cherry Wood Shelves

Oh, man. This project was kind of an undertaking. We started planning it about a year ago and just finished it within the last couple of months. There were lots of things that contributed to it taking so long, but we are just so glad now that it is finished and that we are so happy with our new shelves!

As you can see in the previous link, our inspiration was the reclaimed wood shelves from West Elm. We loved the aged wood look with the heavy black steel brackets. We ordered those brackets and planned to use them, but after bringing the wood home, we realized they were going to be WAY too small for what we were trying to accomplish. I’ve set them aside, now, and planned to use them for some smaller shelves elsewhere in the house.

We got the reclaimed wood from Porter Barn Wood in Phoenix, and it is hard for me to describe how happy we are with it. We were really impressed by the selection there, and hope to get more for future projects. For these shelves, we got a couple planks of the Johnny Cash cherry wood (you can read about it here under the Materials History list). We brought work gloves and a tape measure with us and wore comfy clothes and tennis shoes (it is a lumber yard, so you dig through piles and find what you can). The blank wall in our living room is kind of big, so we tried to get boards that were around 8-10 feet long.


15749600427_6d72b47af7_o(1)Sometimes, you’re a total idiot and completely forget rope and ties at home. Thankfully, we had my husband’s school ID lanyard to jimmy-rig a way to keep them from falling out of the car on our way home.

15313110224_bd563b7c98_o(1)Blurry, but hilarious. Here were are traveling down the busy freeway in Phoenix with our boards hanging out the back of our Element. Beverly Hillbillies status. You can tell by his face and hand to the forehead that Jonah’s just thinking, “You guys are SO embarrassing.”

The boards had a really gorgeous patina from the years spent in the elements. We had a really hard time deciding whether or not we should just leave them as is and clean them up a bit or sand them down. Our boards were REALLY dirty, had lots of deep milling cuts, and had a couple large spots of paint and other unknown substances, so we eventually decided to sand them and get down to the pure grain (please refrain from throwing stones at us).

I had a couple of freakouts mid-sanding where I all of the sudden thought, “OH MY GOSH. WHAT THE (insert favorite expletive here) ARE WE DOING!?” but then I would take a few deep breaths and soldier on.



We rented a power sander from Home Depot (my random orbital was barely making a dent), and my hunky man worked tirelessly for hours to get these puppies sanded down. I tried practice sanding on my scrapboard to the left, and it was pretty embarrassing. Those things are POWERFUL (hence the name). My puny little arms couldn’t take it. Also we ended up having to rent one twice… the first day we had a little accident that involved sucking a rag up into the dang thing and having to take it apart to remove it. By the time we got it out, our rental was almost over. DIY party foul!

This is getting pretty long… Stay tuned for sanded boards and turning them into shelves in the next post!


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