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Build It | Entryway Wall Shelf

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor build a wall shelf for an entryway using stock poplar from a home center


  1. Mark desired lengths for the poplar and cut on a miter saw.
  2. Rip desired widths on the table saw.
  3. Rip the plywood to size on the table saw.
  4. Use a router with a rabbeting bit to cut rabbets on the pieces for the sides and the top for the plywood.
  5. Square off the rounded corner from the router with a chisel.
  6. To set the radius on the bottom of the sides, trace a round object like a plastic bucket or paint can and then cut the radius with a jigsaw.
  7. Use the roundover bit in the router to smooth the leading edges.
  8. For the top edge, drop the roundover bit lower to create a shadow line.
  9. Pre-drill holes for the dividers in the top and bottom.
  10. Glue each joint using wood glue, then screw the pieces together using trim head screws.
  11. Mark the location of the dividers on the back. Add glue, then secure the back with 1” nails.
  12. Sand the piece.
  13. Prime all surfaces.
  14. Fill the screw holes with wood filler.
  15. Apply a top coat of paint in desired color.


Tom built the shelf out of 1x4 and 1x10 poplar plus ¼” plywood. He used trim head screws and wood glue to secure everything, then finally attached coat hooks. All items used for this project can be found in a home center.