Our bathroom towel rack kept falling off the wall because the standard mount was flimsy and apparently couldn't handle little kids doing pull ups on it. We were also a little tired of our boring white bathroom walls. So.... as usual, our issue gave us the genius idea... and the towel hook/picture ledge combo was born! The great thing about hooks instead of your typical towel rack bar, is that you can hang more towels on it (seems like our kids use our bathroom more than their own) and the hooks are stronger than your average mount. Also with this design you can decorate an area you might have struggled to dress up before. There are a variety of finishes you can use to make your towel rack look unique. You can get finishes from weathered to painted and fresh (links in materials and tools below). At the end of this post I have a link to the printable PDF for the ledges in all sizes. I have built this at 30" to replace my existing towel bar, but you can make it whatever length you want. And, the best new is you will only be at about $15-20 when all said and done!
The first thing that you will want to do is figure out what length you want and buy your materials accordingly. If you are going to build the 30" long ledge hopefully you have enough scrap wood around that you only have to buy a 1 x 12 x 48" long
1X2 Common Board - Length 96" (8')
1X4 Common Board - Length 72" (6')
1X12 Common Board - Length 48" (4')
Stain/Finish (pick your color and type)
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Now that we have the tools and materials handled lets get dirty. This Project is fairly easy and it takes more time for the glue and stain to dry then it does for anything else!
Step 1 - Measure your Material and Cut it to Length
This is 30" long so all your pieces will need to be cut to that length. The hard cut is going to be the 1X12 because most Miter saws are not long enough so you will have to make the piece with a straight edge for the whole length of the cut. So make your mark, cut one half and then flip it and finish the cut. If you have a table saw or a long radial arm saw this is easily done. If you don't have either you can get your lumber store to cut it for you and save yourself the headache of having to sand or fix the cut if you make a mistake. The nice thing about most lumber stores/home improvement stores is that they will do it at no cost to you
Step 2 - Sand Splintered Edges and Any Major Defects
Do not skip this step, sand away and make your life easier.
Step 3 - Glue and Nail the Back on
Before you start gluing and nailing the parts together lets figure out what is the back and the bottom. This is key because this is where you hide mistakes, defects in the wood, and also ensure that you have the most attractive grooves and knots in the wood showing. I have found that saw marks and material defects actually work out really well because the stain will bring out a lot of character the wood. Knots in the wood look really good stained and also if you see If you plan to paint for a fresh look, hide all defects and have them facing the wall or on the base/bottom. Now that I have typed your ear off, we will first mark where the nails go on our back piece. Locate the bottom of the ledge 3-1/2" from the top, Mark this location and line up the bottom ensuring it is straight along your line. If you start from center and up 3/8" from the bottom place a mark every 10" and then on the ends mark 1" in from the edge. It is nice to mark your nailing before hand so you don't clamp where nails go (this is shown in the plans when you download). Let's move to gluing the rear face of the base/bottom, this is the 3/4" tall face. We will put a thin layer of glue on this face and then take our back piece and line up a side and the bottom and clamp in place. Take note that this clamp should be placed about 3" from the edge so that you can nail the edge. Place your second clamp about 18" away (watch for where you marked for nails). Then start nailing down your markings moving the clamps as you go to keep the boards tight. You will see some glue squeeze out of the joint and you will want to wipe this up because most glues do not stain. Use a damp rag to clean up, do not let excess glue dry
I cheated on this step and did not use clamps. From this experience, I would recommend that you use clamps to keep the board straight. If you want to walk on the wild side and not use my advice, pay attention to your line to keep the shelf straight
Step 4 - Glue and Nail the Front on
Now repeat the process that I mentioned above but to the front of the base/bottom and the 1x2 board. Again mark your nail spots and glue the 3/4" tall face of the base. Clamp and nail awa
Step 5 - Bury Nail Heads, Putty, and Sand again!
This is the step where you decide what you want your finished piece to look. If you choose rustic, its easy because less is more. I mean this because making the ledge look rustic is easy because it is the less intensive prep for stain and finishing. Clean and sharp, this takes more prep. So depending on your finish I have links on this site to help you try and achieve your desired look. You want to make sure that you bury your nail heads before sanding, so take that nail punch you just bought and drive the nail heads about 1/16" under the surface. After this is done take you wood putty (stain-able or paintable) and fill any imperfections that you do not want shown and fill any holes and gaps. This does not have to be perfect because you get to sand after it dries. When dry you will want to sand smooth your putty/filler to give you the desired look you are going for and also get rid of any high spots, this is stain-able but it could be slightly off on color. Do not install hooks just yet!
Step 6 - Stain, Paint, or whitewash
There are so many colors to chose from on stains and paints that the options limitless. Depending on what you want to do I recommend you try out your finish on scrap piece of material, if you are anything like me you may have 1 or 2 after some projects. Stains react differently to each type of wood and also to imperfections on the wood. I really like stains because they bring out different colors and textures of wood compared to most paints. For stains my best advice is to test it first, then try it on your piece but do not let it set to long before wiping off your first coat. This is because you will see if this is the tint or color that you want. If it is apply a second coat and let it set a little longer, the longer it sits the darker it gets. Do not let stain dry on top of the wood. What I mean by this that you will want to wipe off any excess after it has set for your prepping time. Another trick to bring out the best look is to wipe off the stain in the direction you want to pull the color or hue to. When you do this, you are working the stain into the wood. The longer you work it the darker it will get. I usually always have a stain cloth when I wipe. One other tip is wear gloves! Hopefully you did a read of this whole article before you started working on your ledge and didn't get stain all over your hands. If you have never used stains before hopefully you become a fan, if not there is paint and paint can dress up anything if you chose the right color. Paint is pretty straight forward, and like stain test it first so that you can see how it is going to dry. I always recommend multiple coats to get good coverage and also bring out the true color of the paint. After your paint/stain has dried chose an appropriate top coat for what you just applied, and, good news....because this is going in a bathroom I recommend a top coat because of moisture. After all this, install your hooks to the desired locations you want. I have the locations for my 4 hooks shown, but I would lay yours out and see how it works for you! Good Luck Logan Street Crew!
If you have any questions or comments please let us know. We are always striving to be better and supply you with the best content to make projects easy and affordable. If you have any project ideas or something you would love to build or have built and want to share please contact us and we will do what ever we can to help. Stay tuned and Lets Keep Improving! Jeff
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