Super Simple Scrap Wood Wall Organizer
Lets talk about pine. The wood, not the needles. It's a soft wood, light colored, and almost always the cheapest thing available at the hardware store. I really, really want to love it, as evidenced by the fact it's always the first thing I reach for when I need wood for a project. But this is a mistake. Why? Because pine stains terribly.
I know this. I've learned this lesson already. But despite that, I always buy pine. "It'll be better this time" I tell myself. No. No it wont be. Stop lying to yourself, Lindsay.
For this project, as per usual, I went to the hardware store and purchased a bunch of pine. I went home and made all my cuts. Then I tested the stain. And, as I should have known, it looked terrible (see above.)
So then I stood in my basement brainstorming all the ways I could make this project work without going back to the hardware store. I looked at the birch plywood left over from the kitchen floor. I looked at all the 100 year old trim I pulled down when putting up cabinets. And I decided I could do this.
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I did no pre-planning for this DIY wall organizer. None whatsoever. This was a scrap wood project that I pretty much pulled together with things I had on hand. Afterword, though, I went back and made some (free!) printable plans because I thought it might be helpful to have a clear cutlist and dimensions. I've described my original "wing-it" method below, but do grab the printable plans if you think you'll make your own, so you know exactly how to build the organizer.
Additionally, these plans can totally be adapted to use different materials or to make a different sized organizer. If you're adapting the plan, there are two key aspects: 1) the lengths of the front, back, and bottom are all the length you want your finished organizer to be and 2) the total height of the front needs to be at least an inch less that the full height of the organizer for mounting purposes.
Front: All of my plywood was leftover from my plank plywood floor project, and therefore already cut into 4" strips. As a result, the front and back of my organizer would need to be multiple pieces. For my front, I used 3 pieces of 1/4" birch plywood cut to be 10"x 2". Alternatively, you could use a single piece of something (not pine!!!) that is 10"x 6".
Back: I used 2 pieces of 1/4" birch plywood cut to be 10"x 4". Once again, you could use a single piece of something that was 10"x 8"
Bottom: This was a single piece of birch plywood 10" long. I cut the height to size after assembling the front and sides.
Sides: I sanded all of the paint off some super old trim that was once on my walls, then cut off an 8" piece (the finished height I want my organizer to be). I set my miter saw to be 10" and then cut a piece that looked the right size. Real official, I know.
Wood Glue: I am not a brand snob for this, and typically purchase the cheapest stuff I can find on Amazon whenever I'm running low. At posting, that's this.
Stain: I used Minwax's English Chestnut. Which, in case you were wondering, looks much darker on this table than it does on this project. Different woods take stain differently, so test your stain first!
Nails and Screws: I used my nail gun (see below) to put brad nails in, but you can use an old fashioned hammer and nails as well. Just make sure the nails are small!
Miter Saw- Absolutely essential for this project. While I suppose you could make all your cuts with a circular/jigsaw and a protractor, you will be miserable. I have this miter saw, and it makes me happy every single day.
Brad Nailer- Not essential for this project. You could definitely get away with a hammer and some finish nails. It'd just take a little while. That being said, I love my little electric nail gun, and don't think I could DIY without it.
Random Orbital Sander- I used to have a terrible Harbor Freight sander that my dad got me when I first started DIY-ing. It was awful, and the paper constantly ripped and it never seemed to actually sand anything. I now have this one, and it is so much better.
Drill/Driver- For driving screws and drilling pilot holes.
Step 1: Make Cuts
See the free printable plans for what cuts to make!
Step 2: Sand, Stain and Finish
I sanded the sides (aka, the former trim) with 80, 150, and 220 grit sandpaper. The plywood I just gave a quick sand with 220 grit sandpaper, because I was nervous about sanding through the veneer.
I then stained with Minwax's English Chestnut. I choose to stain and finish before I put everything together to ensure I stained everything, plus it was a little neater this way. While you could stain after assembly, I think it would be difficult to reach some of the places inside the organizer, hence my decision to stain before.
I used Minwax Tung Oil Finish to finish my boards, primarily because I already had some in the house, but also because I just really like it. It's not pure tung oil (which is expensive), but is tung oil based and creates a nice solid, non-sticky finish on my wood projects. You do have to wait 24 hours in between coats, but if you're not in a hurry, it's a great finish.
Step 3: Assemble
I started by attaching the front pieces to the sides of the organizer with wood glue and brad nails. No screws here: this isn't going to be bearing any weight, so the nails and glue should be enough.
Then I attached the bottom. Same deal: wood glue and brad nails.
Finally, the backs. These I attached a little differently. Instead of just using wood glue and brad nails, I also used a couple of 1" screws on the top board. This was because the top of the back is what will be mounted on the wall, so I wanted to ensure it was securely attached to the rest of the organizer.
If you have a countersink bit (I didn't at the time, but got this one from Lowes a few days later) now is the time to use it. If the screw sticks out a bit it will push the organizer away from the wall, which is fine, but not ideal. Since I didn't have a countersink bit, I just pushed really hard with my drill when I was screwing in the screw, and achieved a similar (if not as pretty) effect.
Step 4: Mount
There are two different ways I considered mounting this: 1) with screws or 2) with construction adhesive and brad nails. The first method is sturdier, given that you can get your screw into a stud or are using some sort of molly or toggle bolt. However, you end up having a visible screw that must be disguised in some way. Options include painting the screw a wood-ish color, or countersinking it and wood-filling and staining over it. The wood fill/stain option looks nice, but makes it near-impossible to remove the organizer from the wall, so you better be sure you never, ever need to take it down.
Given that future me might want to someday remove the organizer, I was mounting on a bead board panel, and that I don't plan to put anything heavy into it, I chose to mount using option 2, construction adhesive and brad nails. It was relatively straightforward: put adhesive on back, then attach to wall with brad nails. See picture the picture below for exactly where I placed my nails.
And that's it! Organizer done! Be sure to download the free printable plans if you think you might make your own! I made two and used one to file receipts as I came in the door, and the other to store coupons from mailers that I might actually use. What would you use an organizer like this for? Tell me in the comments below! And if you love organizers, check out my super simple drawer organizer!