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Make a Shoe Rack with Modern Style

Here's how to make a trendy, modern ladder shelf for your entry with just $35 worth of supplies and only two tools! This shelf makes a great shoe rack. All measurements listed below could be customized to fit your space, but this is a great starting place.

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Build a Shoe Rack: Collect Your Materials

Build a Shoe Rack: Collect Your Materials

Make your shopping list and gather materials. I went to my nearby Lowe's but you should be able to find these supplies at most hardware stores, home centers and even your scrap pile. This project needs:
  • (1) 10'x 10' shelf board
  • (4) 42' deck baluster (railing) boards
  • (2) 1'x 42' dowel rods
  • (2) Gate Hinges
  • (12) 2.5' Wood Screws
Confused about lumber dimensions? Make sense of lumber dimensions with our cheat sheet here.

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Watch For Miters

Watch For Miters

When shopping, try to find baluster boards that have one end already mitered at a 45-degree angle. This will make it easier to balance the ladders on the level ground in your home. Are you a measuring novice? Learn how the pros use tape measure here.

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Cut Your Parts

Cut Your Parts

Measure and cut six, 11-in. long pieces of the 1-in. round dowel. These will become your ladder rungs.

Want to work more with dowels? Learn how to build shelves from dowels here.

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Pre-Drill to Avoid Splits

Pre-Drill to Avoid Splits

Use a power drill to pre-drill three screw holes slightly smaller than your screws centered in all four baluster boards 10 inches apart. Make sure the hole goes all the way through the board. Do not skip this step — the screws need a place to go or the board will split. Not sure which bits to use? Learn how to choose twist drill bits here.

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Do Some Dowel Work

Do Some Dowel Work

Pre-drill holes in both ends of the dowel rods about a half-inch deep. I used my workbench which has a built-in vise told hold it in place, which worked nicely, but isn't necessary.

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Prep for Assembly

Prep for Assembly

Get your screws ready by drilling them all the way through the railing board so just a tiny tip sticks out the other side. You'll use this tip to line it up with your dowel holes.

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Build a Shoe Rack: Align Your Parts

Build a Shoe Rack: Align Your Parts

Line your dowel up with the screw and drill downward to attach the dowel to the railing board. This was the hardest part, and demanded firm pressure to make sure the dowel end stayed flat against the board. We used gravity to our advantage by pushing downwards on the dowel, but a second pair of hands helping hold would do the trick too.

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Build a Shoe Rack: Finish the Rungs

Build a Shoe Rack: Finish the Rungs

Repeat this process with all three rungs on two of the boards.

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Build a Shoe Rack: Flip for Ladders

Build a Shoe Rack: Flip for Ladders

Now flip your pieces over, and attach the other side rails of the ladders to the rungs in the same way as the first side. Repeat and you will have two ladders!

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Build a Shoe Rack: Attach the Hinges

Build a Shoe Rack: Attach the Hinges

Lay your two ladder tops end-to-end and mount the hinges, making sure you leave a quarter-inch gap for the hinge to move and close.

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Build a Shoe Rack: Stand it Up

Build a Shoe Rack: Stand it Up

Stand your ladders up and now you have your shoe rack base structure. By using the hinge, you can spread the ladders out closer or farther depending on your overall desired width.

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Build a Shoe Rack: Cut Shelves to Size

Build a Shoe Rack: Cut Shelves to Size

Next, cut your shelving board into three pieces. You can easily customize your desired length based on how narrow you'd like the ladders to stand, but I chose to cut my boards at 52-in., 39-in., and 27-in. Make sure when you pick out your shelving boards to lay it down flat on the store floor and check for warping — this is especially common with the less expensive boards — but there are always a couple good ones in the pile. Never used a circular saw before? Learn the best and safest ways to use a circular saw here.

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Build a Shoe Rack: Sand and Finish

Build a Shoe Rack: Sand and Finish

Sand any rough edges on the boards and lay them across the ladder rungs to create a shelf. You can leave the wood unfinished and it will develop a natural patina over time. Or you can finish the wood with a finish of your choice. Pine can be hard to finish, but you can make it easier by using a pre-stain conditioner. Learn how to stain wood evenly here.

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Put it All Together

Put it All Together

Now it's time to assemble your shelf and load it up with shoes, gear or accessories. If you need to move it, just pull the shelves and collapse for easy transportation or storage. For a more permanent structure, secure the shelves to the rods by attaching round brackets on the underside of the shelves around the rungs.