SouthEast PortlandTool Library
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The story of a shelf & some sawdust

One of SEPTL’s members, Krulia, sent us some pictures of a shelf she built using tools borrowed from our tool library, and a great description of the process.  Thanks Krulia!


I recently moved and had the idea to make a recycled bookshelf for my new room. Thankfully, I had heard about the SEPTL, so I was able to check out the tools I would need to be able to build something from scratch with a low budget. I built this bookshelf over the period of several weeks out of minimal materials and tools. I used five recycled 2x6s, eco-friendly stain, wood glue, and several screws to join the wood together. Thanks to the SEPTL, I was able to check out a hand sander, one clamp, one vice, a tablesaw, a paintbrush, paint mixer/key, extension cord, and tarp, all of which were extremely useful. All in all I estimate that it cost me about $22 to build. I owe everything to the SEPTL, without which I never would have been able to create this piece.

The wood was purchased from the Rebuilding Center. I wanted to make it as simple, lightweight, and straightforward as possible, so I decided to use two 2x6s on the side and three shelves between them; almost the bare minimum to have it stand vertically on its own. While I was looking through the wood to make my selections I saw two pieces that were cut at the ends, one cut diagonally, and one bevelled, and knew that I would leave them that way and incorporate that into the design. You will notice that the left side of the shelf is higher than the right. I believe that I had seen that at the Rebuilding Center in one of the pieces they had there for sale and decided to incorporate that into my design, as well.

Raw recycled wood, de-nailed, not yet sanded


During the preparation for the assembly, I used the SEPTL hand sander to sand the wood with three different grain sizes; 50, 80, and 120. It’s important when using recycled wood to wear a respirator to prevent inhaling mold and toxic wood treatments, so I used one that had removable cartridges to filter out dust and chemicals. I found out later that one of the pieces of wood I used was potentially painted with something toxic called copper napthenate. Wood is commonly treated with chemicals, so exercise caution with recycled wood when you use it to build.

Saving the dust for putty

It was important to me to put a lot of attention into the detail of this bookshelf given that the design was so minimal, so I chose a nice stain and stained it three separate times, making sure to feather while I went along to ensure that the finish would be as smooth as possible. I pre-drilled holes where I was going to screw the pieces together, and then drove the screws deep into wood so that I could fill the holes with a mixture of sawdust and wood glue, making the screws invisible. (Sawdust and woodglue make a stainable glue.) Viola! Here is a recycled, eco-friendly DIY project that went viral after being posted to reddit. It got over 100,000 views in three days, and cost very little to make. My biggest expenditure was on the sanding belts ($8).

Cut shelves

Testing the fit

Thanks so much to SEPTL for making it possible for us to make things we want to make, but don’t have the means to! You are an invaluable resource to our community.

– Krulia


  1. Great project, Krulia! It looks great and I admire your DIY spirit. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Krulia Krulyevich says:

    Thank you! Glad to share 🙂

  3. D. Ballerino says:

    Look at how that drum fits in there.

  4. INN-conspicuous says:

    That’s so creative and imaginative. You just inspired me. Thank you.