Canadian Woodworking

Pickett shelf

Author: J.P. Rapattoni
Published: October November 2004

This project is easy to build and just as easy to modify with your own special touch.


picket fence

This project is easy to build and just as easy to modify with your own special touch. I used recycled 1″ x 3″ wood. The wood has a beautiful
patina and is slightly distressed, which adds subtle character to this piece.

Prepare Your Stock

All the parts in this project are based on dimensional 1″ x 3″ inch pine, available at any lumber yard. You’ll need three 6′ pieces. If you use recycled lumber clean it first with a stiff bristle brush to remove dirt that may damage your cutting tools. Then sand to 120 grit. Wear a dust mask and safety glasses. If using new wood, you may want to do some light distressing at this point.

You will need four pickets that are 31 1/2″ long. Cut two pickets from one of the 6′ pieces, and one picket from each of the other two 6′ pieces. You will have two 40″ pieces left over; edge glue them together.


Choose a shape for the slat tops from the samples provided, or design your own shape. Transfer the shape to a cardboard pattern, and then use that pattern to mark the shape on each slat. If you have a band saw, cut all four of the slats at the same time. Otherwise, cut them one at a time.

From the boards you glued up previously cut two shelves 4 1/2″ x 10″. Cut a 1 1/2″ radius on the two front corners of each shelf. From the remaining piece, cut a 4″ circle, and then cut two 4″ radius semi-circles, then cut them in half. There will be enough wood left to cut two back supports 1″ x 1/2″ x 12″ long.


Lay the pickets face down on your workbench, about 1/2″ apart and square them at the bottom. Position one of the back supports 3 1/3″ from the bottom and the other 22 1/2″ from the bottom. With the supports flush to the outside of the pickets, glue and tack them in place.

Position the top shelf so it is centred on the front face of the pickets and the shelf’s top is flush with the bottom of the upper back-support. Fasten it in place with glue and brads. Position the lower shelf so that the bottom of the shelf is flush with the top of the lower back-support. Fasten with glue and brads.

Make sure the grain in the shelf supports is running in the same direction. Position them so the inside edge is flush with the inside edge of the outer pickets. Glue and tack them from the back of the pickets and top of the shelves. Drill two 1/8″ screw holes in the upper back-support between the slats to fasten the shelf to the wall. I finished the shelf with three coats of semi-gloss polyurethane.

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