Creating Beautiful Boat Shelves

Shelves that resemble boats are a great home accent for anyone who loves the sea and wants to create a nautical theme for a room. These shelves are also practical, since boat shelves can be used to store a wide variety of objects such as; books, portraits, and collectibles. They can be built in any size, and can be custom fit to any wall and even be situated into corners.

The first step to begin planning the construction of your shelves is to determine where you would like to display them. By studying the size of the room in which they will be placed, you will have a better idea of how large or small your shelves will need to be.

Purchasing plans or a template before you start construction on your boat shelves is probably a smart step to take next. These plans can be found on-line or in some hardware stores for anywhere from $15-$25. This option is much less expensive than having someone draw custom plans for you. Although, having a professional create the plans will ensure that the shelves will fit perfectly in the area that you have assigned for your finished project. While building this type of shelf isn't particularly difficult, it will be important to have drawings to tell you what steps to take, and spell out exactly what you will need to do.

Next, decide what type of wood you'd like to use to build your boat shelves. Plywood works well. It is sturdy and inexpensive. It also looks quite rustic and can easily be stained or painted. Maple and oak are a bit more expensive, but will have a look that is more refined.

One tricky thing about building boat shaped shelves is the curve in the wood that creates the top of the boat. It can be difficult to install the shelving platforms without having the wood professionally steamed and bent to fit. Wood steaming can be pricy, but thin luaun (also known as Philippine mahogany) applied to the sides will achieve the same effect without having to rent a wood steamer, or hire someone to do it for you. Luaun typically has a solid core material sandwiched between two layers of veneer. It is commonly used in interior applications, such as an underlayment for vinyl flooring. Luaun can be found in some larger hardware stores, or it can be ordered on-line. You will need to purchase it in 1/4 inch thickness.

First, measure the length of the boat shelf and cut a piece of luaun to fit the outside. Apply wood glue to the luaun and hold it in place against the shelves with clamps until the glue dries. Do the same for the opposite side of the shelf. Repeat these steps until you have acquired the thickness that you desire. After the last piece of luaun is glued into place, secure it into position with screws or nails.

Once you have finished the construction of your shelves, you are ready to sand and paint or stain them to the color of your choice. Using a back and fourth motion with a power sander loaded with a fine grain sandpaper, sand out any rough spots in the wood to create a smooth surface on every side. A rotary sander is not recommended, as it can damage the natural grain of the wood, and can affect the rustic appearance. Use a hand-held sanding block to access hard to reach places such as corners and edges. Wipe any excess sanding dust away using a cloth. To create an even smoother surface, repeat these steps with an ultra-fine sandpaper.

Now you are ready for the finish. Apply the stain or paint of your choice to the shelves with a soft paint brush. Allow the first coat of paint/stain to dry, and apply a second coat, taking care to touch up corners and edges with a detail brush. Seal the entire surface of the shelves with a matte, semi-gloss, or high-gloss sealer to protect the completed product. Once the finish is dry, you are ready to start using and enjoying your boat shelves!

by Mandi June Henderson