DIYdiy projects

diy project: driftwood shelf

by Grace Bonney

lauren and derek have a new diy wednesday post coming up at 1:30 but i wanted to share another fun diy project from d*s reader susan herr. she bought a fixer-upper cottage on the shore of lake champlain in vermont and was inspired to use some of the beautiful driftwood from the lake’s shores as part of her house “flip”. as susan puts it, “charming, simple and free- it was a no brainer”. click here for the full post and susan’s directions, or just click “read more” below. have fun!


When I bought a fixer-upper cottage on the shore of Lake Champlain in Vermont, I was inspired to use some of the gorgeous driftwood on the beach as part of my “flip”. Charming, simple and free, it was a no-brainer.

I used a fat chunk of log topped with a piece of glass as a side table. The bark had all been washed away, exposing a satiny wood with cool vertical grooves made by prior tunneling insects. I let it sit in the sun with top and bottom exposed for a few weeks, just to make sure it was thoroughly dry and insect-free. Done.

My husband thought I had lost it when I dragged home a 5-foot-long beautifully weathered board, complete with a charming protruding rusty nail. But my vision was a floating shelf, and I was a happy camper when the simple project actually worked as planned. It was a couple of years ago, and I have a sixty-year old brain, but here’s approximately how I did it:

I bought 3/8-inch steel rod at the hardware store and cut it into three 8-inch lengths with a hacksaw. Then I drilled 3/8-inch diameter holes about 3 1/2 inches deep into three wall studs, keeping the holes as level and straight as possible. Next I hammered the rods into the studs. I marked the location of the rods on the edge of the board, and drilled holes about 5 inches deep into the board. Then I slid the board onto the rods by whacking it heartily into place, using a wood scrap to protect the edge from the hammer. After looking online, I see you could simplify the project by using “blind shelf supports” from rockler.com. These screw into the studs, meaning you would only have to drill into the shelf itself.

My favorite use of driftwood was the simple hook for dishtowels I made for the kitchen, which I still think about, and will have to replicate when I build my get-away cabin in the woods. I gathered a few different possible driftwood branches, looking for good angles and for branches that were fairly close together. I cut the branches at an angle with a fine-toothed saw to make the hooks. I made an additional hook by drilling a hole and gluing in a piece from another branch. Then I drilled two holes for mounting, countersunk the holes, and screwed it to the wall. I covered the holes by gluing in “plugs” cut from twigs. A simple and beautiful thing.

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  • both pieces displayed are really beautiful and very professional, you should be very proud! and GREAT ideas. Whenever I walk along the shores on Vancouver Island I wonder what I could make with all the driftwood. unfortunately australian customs doesnt react kindly to bringing in bits of driftwood, no matter how beautiful!

  • I love this. I have some branches of driftwood that my grandfather and I picked on our last trip to the beach before he passed away and I’ve been looking for a creative way to use them in my home. I think they’ll work best for hooks!

  • loving all the nature inspired diy projects as of late. i live in a tiny ‘treehouse’ near the beach and am always looking for ways to blur the line between inside and out, and incorporate more storage. thanks & keep up the great work!

  • I did this over 40 years ago. I found a piece of driftwood at the local beach,that was originally an Xmas tree, I think.
    Hung on the wall it was a perfect spot for all my bead necklaces in the 60’s!

  • That is LOVELY! I am obsessed w/ driftwood lately, and I wish someone would teach me how to make a driftwood mirror like they have at Pieces in Atlanta (featured in Cottage Living in Nov as well). It seems simple, but I’m sure I’d make some sort of dangerous glue gun mess and get 7 years bad luck if I attempted it myself!

  • AmyE specifically – Driftwood is SO expensive on the internet. I’m only offering this for NOW…I’m not going to make a habit of this because I don’t have the time or will to do it, BUT, if any of you are wanting to make a small project for yourself or a family member, I’d be happy to find you some decent peices (let me know what your looking for). I only ask for you to pay for the shipping cost. I live minutes from the Ohio River, and driftwood is EVERYWHERE!!! Great peices, too. Let me know..

  • Hi Gary, how lucky that you live minutes away from an endless supply of driftwood. No chance you could send a piece for me to making a floating shelf is there?? only hitch, I live in South Africa!

  • Gary, I think you may have gotten yourself into trouble here. :-)
    I LOVE the floating bookshelf! It’s amazing! Have you seen any pieces similar to the above posting picture? I am an artist with a lost of heavy book so 20″ – 30″ would be ideal. Still offering? You can say no. It was super sweet of you to offer to everyone. Good karma coming your way….

  • Hello Gary, I know it’s been over a year since you posted but I am looking to make a drift wood shelf maybe 64″ long or so…I am originally from Ohio so understand your luck in finding great pieces. I’m in Cali now, Please let me know if you are still willing to find and ship!