A Letter Shelf

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A Letter Shelf

How to build a giant letter A Shelf with free plans from Ana-White.com

HANDMADE FROM THIS PLAN >>

Projects built from this plan. Thank you for submitting brag posts, it's appreciated by all!

Author Notes: 

Hey builders!

I have a special treat for you today!

It's actually kind of a treat for me to.

I know you already know my friend Beth from Home Stories A to Z, right?

Just in case you don't, you can meet her here.

Well, Beth and I have been wanting to work on a project together for so so so long! And finally, we made it happen!

Beth wanted to create large letters A and Z above her children's beds (yes, their names start with A and Z). We've had a ton of requests for the giant A and Z letter shelves from you, so I suggested shelves!

So Beth went to her workshop ...

And made this!

I'll be sharing the plans for the standard sized A shelf below. But Beth wanted bigger letters to fit her space below, so she modified the plan and documented everything in her post. And she also posted step by step photos of the build, so please, go check it out!

And of course, we'll be adding the Z shelf soon too!

Thank you Beth!

Shopping List: 

2 – 1x6 @ 8 feet long
1 – 1/4” plywood 23 ½” x 29”
(for both A and Z letters buy a 1/2 sheet of 1/4" plywood)
1 1/4" Pocket Hole Screws
2” (could get away with smaller) finish nails and wood glue
Hanging Bracket/Hardware that attaches to back (try heavy duty hooks)

Tools: 
measuring tape
square
pencil
safety glasses
hearing protection
drill
compound miter saw
level
countersink drill bit
General Instructions: 

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!

Dimensions: 
Dimensions shown for A Shelf
Cut List: 

1 – 1x6 @ 8” (long point to long point, both ends cut at 15 degrees off square, ends NOT parallel)
2 – 1x6 @ 4 1/2” (long point to short point, both ends cut at 15 degrees off square, ends ARE parallel)
2 – 1x6 @ 6” (long point to short point, both ends cut at 15 degrees off square, ends ARE parallel)
2 – 1x6 @ 30” (long point to short point, both ends cut at 15 degrees off square, ends ARE parallel)
1 – 1x6 @ 7 1/4” (long point to long point, both ends cut at 15 degrees off square, ends NOT parallel)
1 – 1x6 @ 10 5/8” (long point to long point, both ends cut at 15 degrees off square, ends NOT parallel)
1 – 1x6 @ 16 3/4” (long point to long point, both ends cut at 15 degrees off square, ends NOT parallel)
2 – 1x6 @ 5 1/4” (long point to short point, both ends cut at 15 degrees off square, ends ARE parallel)
1 – 1x6 @ 7 5/8” (long point to long point, both ends cut at 15 degrees off square, ends NOT parallel)
1 – 1/4" Plywood @ 29” x 23 7/8”

Step 1: 

TIP - If you cut your back plywood first, you can use it as a template for assembling all the pieces! So lay the back plywood down, and then build on top of it - just be careful not to drip glue and stay inside the rectangle. I'd suggest marking centers as well to keep everything square and symmetrical.

Start by attaching the center to the two short legs.

Step 2 Instructions: 

And now the leg bottoms - we are just working our way outward.

Step 3 Instructions: 

And now the sides.

Step 4 Instructions: 

And finally the top. Adjust here for square.

Step 5 Instructions: 

Add the top shelf.

Step 6 Instructions: 

Now build the center piece.

Step 7 Instructions: 

And attach it in place.

Step 8 Instructions: 

Trace the letter on your plywood and cut out with a jigsaw. Attach to back.

Shelf will be heavy, so make sure you attach to a stud in the wall. My recommendation would be to add an additional 1x2 support at the very top and also very bottom, and screw directly into the wall.

Step 9 Instructions: 

For hanging the shelves, I highly recommend adding some 1x2s inside the letter to give you something to screw directly into the wall into a stud in the wall. These shelves will be very very heavy and we don't want them falling off the wall! When you do hang it, it is very important to secure the structure of the letter (the 1x6s or the added 1x2 cleats) into a stud in the wall and use the appropriate hanging system for the weight of your shelf. Also consider added weight of shelf objects in hanging this shelf.

DISCLAIMER: This shelf will be heavy. Hang and use at your own risk.

Preparation Instructions: 
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth. It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Project Type: 
Estimated Cost: 
Skill Level: 
Style: 

Comments

Thanks love for the shout out and thank you so much for the bookshelf plans! My boys LOVE being able to decorate their own little space.

Great job!!!!! I love this plan and will be making one for my Isabel. One small thing in the video….. The way that you crosscut the board initially is very unsafe. On a table saw of that size I don’t see a crosscut sled working out very well (At least not with mine). The only way to use a table saw fence and crosscut is to attach a small block of 3/4" plywood behind the blade and set your fence for 3/4" more than the required cut dimension. Start with your work piece against the plywood and push the wood through the cut with the miter gauge. This will make sure that the cut piece does not get pinched between the blade and the fence causing kickback. This is a pretty eye opening video that I found on the Kreg channel. It is not my intention to tell you what to do but I have seen what kickback can do to a person and would hate to see it happen to anyone. Here is the video it shows what happens when the work piece get caught. http://youtu.be/u7sRrC2Jpp4

Great job!!!!! I love this plan and will be making one for my Isabel. One small thing in the video….. The way that you crosscut the board initially is very unsafe. On a table saw of that size I don’t see a crosscut sled working out very well (At least not with mine). The only way to use a table saw fence and crosscut is to attach a small block of 3/4" plywood behind the blade and set your fence for 3/4" more than the required cut dimension. Start with your work piece against the plywood and push the wood through the cut with the miter gauge. This will make sure that the cut piece does not get pinched between the blade and the fence causing kickback. This is a pretty eye opening video that I found on the Kreg channel. It is not my intention to tell you what to do but I have seen what kickback can do to a person and would hate to see it happen to anyone. Here is the video it shows what happens when the work piece get caught. http://youtu.be/u7sRrC2Jpp4

Hi Ana,
I have discovered your blog and am officially addicted! I especially enjoy reading the updates on the Momplex.
But today I am glad my name starts with an A so I can make this shelf! I can't guarantee it will turn out anywhere close to your A or Beth's A but I will give it my best shot and hope for the best!
Thanks for your creativity and willingness to share it.

Ali

Hi Ana:
LOVE the letter shelves! Would you consider creating plans for the letters G and N for my two little boys Nik and Gregor who share a room?

I am re-doing their rooms with your Storage Collection beds, built-in cubbies in their closet that I ripped out (my kids have no use for hangers so might as well make better use of a closet!). Have already redone my mudroom with your smiling mudroom plan with a few modifications. Ripped out my daughter's closet and did a built in desk, storage bench and wall shelves using your Brookstone collection for part of the plans. Love all of them. Now, if I didn't have to sleep, I'd get so many more of your projects done! Thanks for inspiring us moms to try something new!
Deborah

Curious as to how sturdy this would be without the plywood backing? I like the look of the shelves, but thought that might cut down on the weight. Not sure if you'll see this, but thought I'd ask! Thanks!

Without the plywood backing, the shelf would be extremely weak. You would be much better off cutting down the weight by using 1/2" rather than 3/4" wood. Also, use glue along with the nails to attach the back; and since the whole thing is getting spray-painted anyway, don't use coated board for the back, as glue (and the paint, for that matter) may not stick anyway. Finally, I second the poster above who noted that the way she uses her table saw in the video is unsafe. The danger is compounded if the blade is tilted, because the workpiece is all the more likely to get jammed between the blade and the fence, and then thrown back in your face. It's shocking, really, that 3M's lawyers didn't step in, because there's a lot of liability involved. There are some really good table saw safety videos on the website of Fine Woodworking magazine.