I considered calling this “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,” but it would have missed the mark for my SEO-loving mind. At this point, we’re running over a week behind for the original end-date of the One Room Challenge.
But, art takes time, am I right?
In planning for a room makeover, I knew I wanted some cool features and additional ways to bring plants into the bedroom because I am a #crazyplantlady if I am anything. I actually woke up with a start early one morning–staring at the wall–with a vision. I started mentally planning a wall of honeycomb shelves. Because I use adding machine tape for so many of my DIY projects, I got to work, creating this vision later that morning.
You know the saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Well, apparently that wisdom failed me. After waking up with my vision, I took Koko for an early-morning walk. I saw a pile of lumber at my neighbor’s house. Knowing them, I was pretty sure this wood was destined for a bonfire. After inquiring, I found out it was true–it was a pile of scrap hickory–and they graciously told us to grab whatever we wanted. Beautiful wood. Great condition. The perfect size for the honeycomb shelves.
What could go wrong?
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
To begin with, if you want to make anything out of wood, don’t use hickory. Do you know why builders use hickory? Because it’s one of the strongest woods out there. It’s the same reason they use it for hardwood flooring. But, how hard could it *really* be? The first red flag was how the original cuts we made with the table saw actually started smoking from the friction. We also broke a drill bit, just by trying to drill a simple hole into it. The brad nailer kept failing. But, of course, being gluttons for punishment, nothing is worth anything unless you struggle, right?
The BEST wood for this project would have been pine–even poplar. Much softer wood, making cuts easy and the joining of pieces simple. If you’re looking for durable, yet workable wood, (for something like a bookshelf that will be used more often than wall decor), this site recommends cherry, birch or maple.
How to Build a Honeycomb Shelf
After selecting a wood that could actually be simple to work with, the steps to this project are actually pretty easy. Keep reading to find out how difficult we made it, just for fun.
Step One: Determine the Size.
Using string, paper or drawing material, create the honeycomb shelf. Because of the angles, these shelves can come out bigger or smaller than you would imagine, so creating the actual dimensions can be a good way to start. In general, many people use 8″ lengths. We chose 10″ for ours.
Because I had already designed the wall, we knew we wanted them larger than standard, so we just did some quick chalk drawings outside the garage to play with the sizes.
The inside depth, how far it comes out from the wall, is up to you. I’ve seen them online from 2 inch depth to 4. I’m not sure there is much you could keep on a two inch shelf, but to each their own. We chose 3.5 inches for most of the shelving because we were using most pieces that were “found” at that depth. We also mixed it up with some shelves at 3 inch depth.
Step Two: Rip the Depth.
If you’re cutting a wider piece of wood, rip the depth first, cutting at your 3.5 inches so you can then do the angle cuts on the individual pieces. Scroll back up to the picture of Scott cutting one of the few pieces we had to change the depth in our project.
Step Three: Set the Angles.
I would recommend drawing right on a few pieces exactly where the cuts will be, since you’ve got to understand what they’ll look like when you’re done: The Trapezoid.
Keep in mind that there is an outside and an inside. Use your determined length, (ours was 10″), for the outer measurement. You’ll cut the ends at 30º angles. But, here’s the trick–you have to cut one end and then flip the wood so each piece ends up looking like a trapezoid.
Step Four: Cut Six Pieces.
For one honeycomb shelf, you’ll need six identical pieces. They should all be the trapezoid shape, with the same 30º angle ends, so when you put them together, they fit.
Step Five: Join Them Together.
This is where the path diverts. With a softer wood, you can easily use wood glue on the edges, hold them together and use a nail compression gun to connect.
For a more secure fit–or with much more stubborn wood–you have to biscuit cut each end, add glue to the biscuits and the ends, put them together and use a ratchet strap to hold in place.
Step Six: Clean & Stain.
We used a mineral spirits to clean the wood just prior to staining. The benefit is that it does a great job and dries quickly to speed up the time and not damage the wood.
For a staining project, it’s good to have latex gloves, clean rags and stir sticks on hand.
The stains we chose are Early American & Weathered Oak from Minwax.
The combo looks really pretty together, but applying them is different. The first one–the Early American–gets wiped on and immediately wiped off an instant later. I only dip into the stain container with the rag every few wipes. A little goes a LONG way. Let this first stain dry for a few hours before adding the next.
The Weathered Oak goes on heavier–mainly because it’s only going to add a bit of “grayish” tone to the grains. Once applied, I did the entire shelf before wiping off.
Step Seven: The Clear Coat
After everything is dry, you should paint with a clear coat. I used a matte finish coat, just once to protect the wood, but preserve the natural look.
Step Eight: Lay Out the Design.
This won’t be difficult if you have just a few shelves. But in our case, we had a whole wall of shelves to put together. Plus, with woodworking, there will be sections that might be better off hidden, and this is your chance to show off the best parts. (Take a picture for reference!)
I also marked the tops once the pieces were in place so I knew where to install the hardware.
Step Nine: Install the Hardware.
There are lots of ways to install these. But, having hung a ton of shelves, the hardware I thought was the easiest–and pretty clever–was the “i” hangers from the playroom. The only problem was…I couldn’t find them in stock anywhere. So, we had to improvise. Scott found these obtuse corner braces at Lowes.
I pounded them flat with a rubber mallet and spray painted them. (Of course I did.)
I made a hole with the drill bit, based on leaving enough room to screw these into the wall. Then, I took away the hardware to drill the actual hole. The wood was smoking. It smelled like a BBQ in my room.
I got a “pro” tip at the hardware store. Apparently if you have a tough wood project, using a grease stick actually helps the screws go in with ease. And, it worked like magic!
Step Ten: Install the Honeycomb Shelves!
Once the hardware is installed, you’re ready to hang your shelves! We used wall anchors if there weren’t studs available where the shelves were being hung. I started with one of the edge pieces, hanging each one individually and working over, one by one.
And, voila! They are done! We absolutely love them. So do the plants. Now, head on over to the reveal to see more of this room for the One Room Challenge.