DIY Knockoff Chalkboard Shelf

Hey there friends! Today I’m excited to share these new DIY furniture plans for a DIY Knockoff Chalkboard Shelf! Inspired by the Ballard Designs Oxford Chalkboard Shelf, this is an easy to build project and in this tutorial I’ll show you how to make your own for a fraction of the cost!

diy chalkboard shelf 5

I noticed an adorable shelf in the latest Ballard Designs catalog. The shelf is a simple crate-like design, the corners are joined with metal strapping and the back is a chalkboard for writing or drawing. At $159 I thought I could knock it off for less.


Here’s my knockoff version. It’s nearly identical to the original. The Ballard Designs piece used mango wood, but I used pine, and went a little darker with the stain than the original version.

diy chalkboard shelf 2

And the chalkboard was super easy… it’s a sheet of 1/8″ hardboard coated with a chalkboard material that I found at a big box store. No need for chalkboard paint – so easy! To knock off the metal strapping I used “L” brackets sprayed with oil rubbed bronze paint.

diy chalkboard shelf 6

One more note about the construction. I didn’t use any glue to assemble this shelf. Here’s why, all of the edges of the boards were rounded over with sandpaper to match the original. I was concerned if I applied glue that it could get trapped in the crevices and resist the stain.

diy chalkboard shelf 3

Are you ready to get this on your wall? Then let’s get started!

Ballard Designs Knockoff Chalkboard Shelf Plan

Printed Plan
Click here to download a pdf of the Ballard Designs Knockoff Chalkboard Shelf Plan

(4) 1x3x8
(8) 2″ “L” brackets
24″x48″ 1/8″ chalkboard
1-1/4″ pocket screws
1-1/4″ finish nails
(2) “D” ring picture hangers
Spray primer
Spray paint for the “L” brackets – oil rubbed bronze or your color of choice

Miter saw
Circular saw
Kreg jig
Hammer or nail gun

chalkboard shelf dimensions

Step 1. Make the Sides. Cut 4 pieces of 1×3 to 36″. Using sandpaper round the edges of all the pieces.

Step 2. Cut the Shelf Boards. Cut 8 pieces of 1×3 to 22-1/2″. Using sandpaper round the edges of all the pieces.

diy chalkboard shelf rounded corners 2

Step 3. Assemble the Shelves. Take 4 of the shelf boards and drill three pocket holes in the edges. Clamp one board with pocket holes to one board without pocket holes and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws. Repeat for remaining boards.

diy chalkboard shelves 2

Step 4. After the shelves are assembled, drill two pocket holes in each end of the shelves.

Step 5. Assemble the Carcass. Note: the sides are simply stacked (no glue or pocket holes). Place the top and bottom, so the pocket holes face towards the outside of the shelf, clamp the sides to the top and bottom and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.

diy chalkboard carcass

diy chalkboard carcass 1

Step 6. Attach the Shelves. Cut 2 pieces of scrap to 11″ to help position the shelves. Place the scrap on the bottom, clamp shelf in position so the pocket holes face down and towards the back and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws. Repeat for second shelf.

diy chalkboard shelf installation 1

Step 7. Stain the Shelf. It’s a good idea to stain the piece now before attaching the back. I chose to stain mine using a variation of my Dark Chocolate stain technique.

diy chalkboard prestain 1

I skipped the tea step, but applied the oxidation solution.

diy chalkboard prestain 2

Once oxidization solution was dry, I sanded and applied a coat of Rust-Oleum “Kona” stain. The piece was finished with a coat of Bob’s Miracle Finish.

Step 8. Attach the Back. Cut the back to 36″. Apply painter’s tape on the cut line to avoid chipping the chalkboard. For an easy way to make a long straight cut, check out my “How to Make Circular Saw Crosscut Jig”. I applied some of the Kona stain I used for the shelf to the edge of the chalkboard, so it would blend with the shelf. Clamp the back in position and attach using 1-1/4″ finish nails.

diy chalkboard back

Step 9. Attach the picture hangers.

Step 10. Attach the corner brackets.

diy chalkboard corner installation

That’s it – it’s just that easy. Hang it on the way, get your chalk out and write some clever messages!


how to make a diy ballard designs chalkboard shelf

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    1. Thank you – glad I could inspire you! Please share a pic when you do the bookcase makeover ­čÖé


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