Floating shelves are pretty “in” right now, and I love the idea and look of them. The only problem is that they tend to lend themselves to more of a modern feel than what really fits with our home’s style. These rustic, natural wood floating shelves are the perfect compromise.
Have you ever seen black walnut wood? I hadn’t until fairly recently. My in-laws had a very large black walnut tree that came down and my husband was so excited to harvest some of the wood from it. I really couldn’t understand what the big deal was, but then I saw it. Black walnut is absolutely beautiful wood! With a very dark middle and a starkly contrasting light wood outer edge, this wood is truly gorgeous.
Now before I really get into this project, I need to put some disclaimers out there. Black Walnut dust is arguably poisonous. I have done a ton of research on the subject and have found some varied answers. Some say it is poisonous and that you absolutely MUST wear a great protective mask, and safety glasses etc. Some say it is actually more of an allergic problem and that some people are not affected at all while others will have respiratory distress of some sort. Regardless, all sources seem to agree that the wood itself is fine, even food-safe, the problem is only with the sawdust itself. While this project would be beautiful with any type of wood you choose, if you choose black walnut, please take the necessary precautions just to be safe.
Now back to the project, because we started literally from a fallen tree, our wood was pretty rough to begin with. (You could skip the next few steps by simply purchasing wood rather than harvesting from a tree yourself.) Using a chainsaw, we cut it into strips that were relatively long, thin and shelf-like.
Then I ran them through the planer. Over and over and over again… Finally resulting in mostly smooth shelves that were the proper width for our shelving. While the planer did a great job, there was still lots of sanding before the wood was truly nice and smooth.
But finally, the wood was ready to become shelves. So I cut them to size and coated them with several coats of clear coat.
And now for the fun part! This is the hardware we used to mount the shelves. It is not a super strong system, but these shelves aren’t meant to hold anything big or heavy so it’s not a big deal. Just don’t plan to use this concept for more substantial items. So this is a butterfly bolt (the length is about ¾ the depth of the shelf) coupled with a washer and nut.
When you squeeze this butterfly closed, it is approximately 5/8” in diameter, so we needed to drill 5/8” holes in the wall.
After carefully measuring and marking, we started drilling.
Then slid the butterfly/bolt head portion into the wall.
We wiggled it around a bit to make sure the butterfly had opened up inside the wall, then we tightened the washer and nut.
Then the wall looked a bit like that Hellraiser movie.
The coordinating holes in the shelves needed to be made in three parts so that the shelves could sit flush against the wall. First we drilled a space the diameter of the washer,
then a bit deeper with the diameter of the nut,
and finally the full depth of the bolt in the diameter of the bolt. The third section had to be done very carefully to ensure a straight channel for the bolt to slide into.
The shelves simply slid onto the bolts. It’s a bit more difficult than it sounds, and required a fair amount of wiggling, and jiggling, and even a bit of hammering to get them into place. Be sure to use a scrap of wood between the hammer and the shelf so you don’t accidently dent the shelf.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the way they turned out.
They are the perfect combination of modern meets rustic.
Each shelf is completely unique.
We tried to highlight the natural beauty in each individual piece of wood. I wish these photos could accurately show the color of the wood. The dark sections are much darker than they appear.
The outer edge of each follows the pre-existing shape.
I couldn’t get a good shot of the top shelf. Between the window on one side and the mirror on the other, there just wasn’t a way to get good lighting.
From the underside you can really see shape and contrasting color pattern.
oh, and lookey there… there’s a sneak peek at another upcoming post. Stay tuned. J
To see more of our bathroom makeover so far: