How to Build a Mid-Century Modern Shelf

This eye-catching Mid-Century Modern shelf will add style and grace to any living space. It was part of a larger entryway makeover project consisting of a Mid-Century Modern coat rack and storage bench.

Next Project

Two days






Display your stuff in style on this cool, Mid-Century Modern shelf.

Tools Required

  • Band saw
  • Basic carpentry tools
  • Cordless drill
  • palm sander
  • Pocket hole jig
  • Router table

Materials Required

  • 1-1/2" pocket hole screws
  • 4/4 cherry
  • Hide glue
  • Store bought shelves

Mid-Century Modern Shelf

Overall dimensions: 36-in. wide x 13-1/2-in. deep x 48-in. high.

Entryway Shelf Tech ArtFamily Handyman

Project step-by-step (6)

Step 1

Make The Cutting Templates

shelf cutting templatesFamily Handyman

Step 2

Make The Leg Parts

  • Trace the routing template and cut the leg parts out of the 4/4 cherry boards on a band saw. Stay about 1/8-in. away from the line.
  • Using double-sided tape, attach the routing template to the part blanks.
  • Trim the parts to their final size on the router table using a flush-cut router bit.

Using a Router TemplateFamily Handyman

Step 3

Glue Up The Legs

  • The way these angled legs join makes using clamps difficult. I went with the rub joint technique with hide glue.
  • Work the warm hide glue into the grain of the wood with your fingers and rub the two halves of the joint together until it starts to get sticky. Clean off any glue squeeze-out.
  • Let the glue joints set up overnight before moving on to the next step.

Rub Joint Gluing the Leg PartsFamily Handyman

Step 4

Make The Assembly Jig

  • A jig makes the assembly of this shelf much easier. Clamp the legs to a 2-ft. x 4-ft. piece of MDF, making sure they’re evenly spaced.
  • Attach guide blocks using thick superglue and accelerator. I used 1-in. tall blocks for the legs and 3-in. tall blocks for the shelves.
    • Pro tip: Use only dabs of glue or you’ll risk gluing the legs, too!

Making the Shelf Assembly JigFamily HandymanEntryway Shelf Assembly JigFamily Handyman

Step 5

Mark For Pocket Screws

  • With two legs in the assembly jig, center the shelves in the jig and mark where the pocket holes need to go.
  • Mark two holes per joint and drill them with a pocket hole jig.

Marking the Shelf for Pocket HolesFamily Handyman

Step 6

Assemble The Shelf

  • After drilling for the pocket holes, place the shelves back in the jig. Using 1-1/2-in. pocket screws, attach the shelves to the legs.
  • When you’ve completed the first side, flip everything over and repeat the process for the other two legs.
  • Once the shelves have been attached to the legs, stick felt pads to the bottom of the legs and you’re all done!

Screwing the Shelves to the LegsFamily Handyman