Airplane Shelf for a Nursery

The Challenge: To make Ana White’s Airplane Shelf for my son’s nursery. I am due with my second son in March and I wanted to change son #1’s old nursery room from a book theme to an airplane/aviation theme.

My Inspiration: I have used Ana White’s plans once before when I made son #1’s Toy Bin for his big boy room. He was evicted out of his nursery back in October and he needed a place to store his many, many toys. Now that the nursery is vacant, I decided I wanted to spruce it up a little bit and revamp the theme. I chose an airplane/aviation theme because: 1) it’s adorable 2) my dad is an aircraft technician and airplanes have a very special place in my heart. When I wanted to make something special for son #2’s nursery, I went to Ana White’s blog to see if she had anything in the aviation realm and of course she did! I found her “Plane Old Shelf” plans and got to work!

What I Need: 


Who is Helping Me: My Handy Hubby (MHH) Adam helped me when it was time to use his nail gun. I didn’t feel confident in using it by myself. I asked him lots of questions and asked his advice on how to do certain things, but when it came to construction and finishing – it was all me!

Who is NOT Helping Me:  MY HUSBAND’S TAPE MEASURE! It’s the WORST. I know, I know.. Milwaukee Tool is the best… but they seriously missed the mark with this tape measure. It’s not level on the bottom so it can’t stand on its own and it constantly falls over. When you try to mark your boards, the heavy tape measure is falling all over the place and pulling the tape in all sorts of directions. My husband says that they’ve since redesigned their tape measure but he’s still stuck with this crappy one.

How I Did It:

  1. I procured all my supplies/lumber from Home Depot and my husband’s workshop.
  2. I made all my cuts (See Ana’s site for more details..)
  3. I constructed the body of the shelf with screws. This was actually kinda hard for me. I didn’t ask MHH’s advice and I didn’t bother to investigate on how to connect the boards correctly. I ended up sitting on the ground and hanging the boards off a table and screwing the big long board to the smaller boards together from underneath…. which according to MHH, this is NOT what I should have done. I should have used clamps and blah blah blah… screwing from underneath is like the stupidest way to do it. Here’s how it turned out:Body.jpg
  4.  After a short tutorial, I used MHH’s jigsaw to cut the rounded pieces. I needed to make circles for the propeller and the wheels and a rounded edge for the landing gear. Like most things I do, I botched my first attempt at the propeller. On my first attempt, I tried cutting the circle precisely with the jigsaw and it did not go well. Luckily, I had extra wood so I tried again and changed my technique. On my second attempt, I traced my circle onto the wood and then used the jigsaw to cut a few millimeters bigger than the drawn circle. I left the extra millimeters of space so I could use the sander to create the perfect circle. See below: circleattemptsMaking the wheels and the rounded landing gear went a little bit better.
  5. I enlisted MHH’s help with his nail gun to attach the wheels to the landing gear, the round part of the propeller and the propeller “blade” (which is a cut paint stick).
  6. I sanded and painted the airplane shelf. After the paint dried, I had MHH hang it for me. Please see the final results and a helpful tip below:banner-1-2ShelfFinal1.jpgShelfFinal3.jpgWould I Do It Again: Yes! Compared to the Toy Bin, this was a much, much easier project. Just like everything else I have done for the blog, I have learned a lot from my mistakes and my confidence in using power tools and doing woodworking stuff has grown. I will also definitely be more cautious with my toddler when he’s in a shopping cart. Thankfully, he was not injured. I felt awfully, terribly guilty for the whole ordeal and may have fed him excessive amounts of sugar in the aftermath.


  1. Lindsay, you are such a gifted writer! I just laughed and laughed…until I gasped when my little man fell out of the cart! But I can so see him reaching for those paint swatches!! The Plane shelf is too cute! You did a great job! Owen will be so proud of his mommy!


  2. I think this is one of your best projects yet – very cute and I like the colors you chose! And don’t worry, your mom-guilt should totally be cancelled out by the fact that his bedroom is on-theme. Definitely only extra-awesome moms do that. So, zero-sum, right? 🙂


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