Eco-Friendly Kirei Wood Display Shelves

Sustainable wood from sorghum stalks is used to make display shelves to line a divider wall.

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The rich grain of the kirei wood gives these ladder-style shelves an exotic look.

Tools and Materials:
three sheets of 3/4" kirei board
wood glue
tape measure and pencil
construction adhesive
cordless drill with 1-1/4" screws
two quarts clear polyurethane and a natural bristle brush
painter’s caulk
table saw
precision-guided circular saw
3/8” chisel

1. Use a table saw to cut a piece of kirei to your preferred height and width of the display ladder (ours is 6’ x 24”). This piece will support the shelves and will be fastened to the wall.

2. Using a table saw, cut a sheet of kirei to the same width as your base piece (ours is 24”). Determine the depth of your shelves; add 3/8” to compensate for the part of the shelf that will be recessed into the dado cuts on the base piece. Cut the shelves to size. Our shelves are 6” deep, so each of our shelves measure 24” x 6-3/8”. Sand all cut edges to smooth.

3. Measure and mark the long base piece for your shelf placement. Make each mark 3/4” wide because you will cut 3/4” wide slots to fit the 3/4” thick shelves. Our three shelves were marked 16 inches apart from one another to accommodate larger decorative items.

4. Make the dado cuts (notches) in the marked areas for the shelves to be inserted. Set the circular saw’s blade depth to 3/8”. Line up your circular saw with the shelf marks on your big piece of kirei. Cut the markings 3/8” deep along the full width of your base piece.

4. To finish your dado, use a 3/8” chisel to even out the notch. Make these as smooth and flush as possible so that the shelves fit tight. Once finished, dry fit your shelves into the dado slots.

5. Fasten each shelf one at a time. Run a bead of wood glue inside the dado slots. Insert your shelf into the notch until tight. Use a rubber mallet if needed so that each shelf is tight in the notches and the wood glue binds the shelves. Finally use a drill and three 1-1/4” screws or 1” finish nails to secure the shelves through the backside of the base piece. Do this for each shelf.

6. Brush on a clear finish coat of polyurethane. Be sure the shelf is dried thoroughly before mounting.

7. To mount your shelves, mark the areas on the wall that will hold your display shelf. Put dollops of construction adhesive in that marked area. Press your display shelf up against the wall. Put six 1-1/4” screws or 1-1/2” finish nails in the corners and at midpoints to fasten the shelves to the wall.

8. After your construction adhesive has dried and your display shelf is secure, run a bead of painter’s caulk along the perimeter where the wood meets the wall.

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